Assistance dog refused entry to public venues

Cheryl Guest and Cello spend all their time together and share a very close bond.

Cheryl Guest and Cello spend all their time together and share a very close bond.

A Shoalhaven Heads woman has become increasingly frustrated with the reception her poodle Cello receives when he accompanies her out in public.

Cello is a mindDog.

A mindDog is a psychiatric assistance dog and come in many shapes and sizes. They receive formal training and before taking up their role they must pass a public access test. 

Owner Cheryl Guest said Cello has been part of the mindDog program for three months.

“I’ve had several shop owners will not permit him into their shop whatsoever,” she said.

Owners are obliged to produce evidence their dog is a legitimate assistance animal when asked. 

“I hand them the identification card and they still refuse to have him in their shop,” Mrs Guest said.

“They told me I could not have a dog near fresh food.”

Under the Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992, like all assistance dogs mindDogs are guaranteed access to all public places in Australia in order to fulfill their duties.

“They have all the same rights as a seeing eye dog,” Mrs Guest said.

“He’s very well behaved, when he goes out he’s very quiet.”

Mrs Guest said it was important the public understood the role of a mindDog and were able to identify them by their bright yellow vest.

“There is one cafe in Nowra who said there was no worries,” she said.

“I offered to stay outside to be considerate of people and the manager told me I couldn’t stay outside in the cold, so he welcomed me inside. It made all the difference in the world.” 

Places used by the public include:

  • Public footpaths and walkways
  • Educational institutions
  • Shops and department stores
  • Banks, credit unions, building societies
  • Parks, public swimming pools, public toilets, and pedestrian malls
  • Cafes, restaurants, pubs
  • Hotels, motels, rental accommodation.
  • Theatres and other places of entertainment
  • Lawyers’ offices and legal services
  • Libraries
  • Sporting venues
  • Government-run services
  • Social and sporting clubs
  • Government offices
  • Public transport including trains, buses, ferries, boats, ships and planes
  • Dentists’ and doctors’ surgeries
  • Hospitals
  • Hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Travel agents
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