Andrew Selous MP is backing a campaign by Guide Dogs to tackle discrimination against guide dog owners.
The MP for South West Bedfordshire spoke to guide dog owners at an event organised by the national charity, on Wednesday, June 19. They shared their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their dog and Andrew Selous spoke to them about the lasting impact of these refusals.
It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances.
Andrew Selous MP said: “It was disturbing to hear how common these incidents of discrimination are for assistance dog owners.
“No one should be turned away on their local high street because of their assistance dog. I support Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to tackle the ignorance that causes access refusals, and make sure businesses are held accountable when they occur.”
Despite it being against the law, a new Guide Dogs survey found that three out of four (76%) assistance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog.
Taxis and minicabs were the worst offenders – experienced by 73% of those reporting refusals in the last twelve months. Refusals at restaurants (54%), newsagents (42%) and high street shops (36%) were also common.
Guide Dogs supports changes to equality legislation to make action against businesses who refuse access easier.
Chris Theobald, Public Affairs Manager at Guide Dogs, said: “The law is very clear that assistance dog owners have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local restaurant.
“Despite this, our survey shows assistance dog owners face refusals on a regular basis. When you rely on their guide dog to get around, businesses that refuse to allow your dog in are effectively slamming the door in your face.
“Businesses have a responsibility to make sure all their staff welcome assistance dog owners.”