MP attacks Guide Dog discrimination

Bridgwater and West Somerset  Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has added his voice to calls for improved accessibility for owners of assistance dogs.

His demand follows attended an event run by the charity Guide Dogs to raise awareness of discrimination against guide dog owners, many of whom are being turned away by businesses.

It is illegal refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances. But a Guide Dogs survey found that three quarters of assistance dog owners reported that they had been refused entry to shops, supermarkets, gyms, campsites, places of worship, public transport, taxis and minicabs, pubs and hotels. 

Mr Liddell-Grainger said he was shocked to hear about such cases.

“This isn’t just poor customer service; it’s discrimination and it’s unacceptable,” he said.

“Disabled people have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local pub.”

 Senior campaigns manager at Guide Dogs James White 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.”