Tom Brake MP is joining forces with the charity Guide Dogs to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by guide dog owners.
At an event in Parliament, Tom heard from guide dog owners about the impact of being turned away by businesses because of their dog. While it is against the law, except in the most exceptional circumstances, to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog, a survey has found that three quarters of assistance dog owners had been refused entry by businesses at some point.
Businesses that closed their doors to assistance dog owners included shops, supermarkets, gyms, campsites, places of worship, public transport, taxis and minicabs, pubs and hotels.
Carshalton & Wallington MP Tom Brake said:
"It was a pleasure meeting Kate and her guide dog Phoenix in Parliament. I was shocked to hear about cases of guide dog owners being turned away by businesses. 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. That’s why I’m supporting Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to open all doors to guide dog owners."
James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said:
"It’s against the law for a business to close their doors to someone because of their assistance dog, but it’s still a daily concern for many guide dog owners going about their lives.
"When you rely on your guide dog to get around, leaving the dog outside is not an option. Businesses shouldn’t be allowed to make guide dog owners feel like second-class citizens. That’s why we’re calling for better enforcement of the law, and better staff training in some sectors to stop this discrimination from happening in the first place."