Guide Dogs Scotland call for an end to 'access refusals'

Local MP John Lamont is backing a call from Guide Dogs Scotland to end the common practice of illegally refusing entry to assistance dogs and their owners.

The MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk attended an event in Parliament run by the charity Guide Dogs to raise awareness of discrimination against guide dog owners.

It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances. 

However, a Guide Dogs survey found that the majority of assistance dog owners have been refused entry by businesses. 71% of those surveyed this year have been refused entry to a restaurant,   73% have been turned away by taxi drivers and 60% have been refused access to a newsagents.

John Lamont MP said: “I was shocked to hear about cases of guide dog owners being turned away by businesses. It was really concerning to hear from dog owners about their experience of being refused access to businesses or services.

“This isn’t just poor customer service; it’s discrimination and it’s unacceptable. Disabled people have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local pub.

“I support Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to open all doors to guide dog owners. It is time the UK Government reviewed the enforceability of the current laws which are meant to ban this practice. And the Scottish Government needs to deliver on its for better training for transport providers.”

Guide Dogs Scotland asked local dog owners for their experience. Margaret, an assistance dog owner from the Borders said: “Access refusals for people with guide dogs and assistance dogs must be brought to an end because such refusals are an example of unfair discrimination. Only the power of the law and its enforcement can ensure that this is comprehensively ended.”

Jan, an assistance dog owner from the Borders said: “It’s the law, and everyone really should know it. It’s outrageous that guide dogs are sometimes refused. Try walking a mile in a visually impaired persons shoes and see how you get on.”