My submission on the Human Rights (Disability Assist Dogs Non-Discrimination) Amendment Bill

Submitted by nat on Tue, 09 Nov 2021 - 17:48
Close-up photo of the jacket of a disability assist dog, which includes the words "Assistance Dog" and "Don't Pet Me I'm Working"

In 2008 New Zealand received the World Disability Award in recognition of (among other things) New Zealand's role in negotiating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and for developing and implementing the landmark New Zealand Disability Strategy. It's a shame that today, more than a decade later, disabled people continue to be routinely denied service or accommodation simply because they require the help of a service animal.

There are many reasons why a person might need a disability assist dog, including neurological or psychiatric conditions, autism, or epilepsy. Others might use a disability assist dog because they are Deaf or hearing impaired, or because they are blind or have visual impairment. The term 'guide dog' does not encompass the wide range of reasons why a person might need to use a disability assist dog.

New Zealand's National Dog Database already classifies 'disability assist dogs' as working dogs. It's time for the rest of New Zealand society (and New Zealand legislation) to catch up and get with the programme.

I support the Human Rights (Disability Assist Dogs Non-Discrimination) Amendment Bill as currently written.

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