Hearing Dogs’ Position Statement on Assistance Dog Standards and Public Acceptance

Hearing Dogs is aware that an increasing number of people are training, and using a dog to assist with their disability. We are also aware that some people are fraudulently stating that their pet dog is an assistance dog, to access services normally only accessed by assistance dogs.

Hearing Dogs and the other members of Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK) have worked for decades to obtain public recognition of the function of their dogs and the high-quality standards to which those dogs are trained. However, some people feel that the recognition of dogs trained by members of ADUK has restricted use of their assistance dog and has breached their human rights and their rights as a disabled person when accessing services.

Hearing Dogs and the other members of ADUK work to published international standards for dog training and welfare as part of their compliance and membership of Assistance Dogs International (ADI).

Whilst ADUK recognises the significant contribution a dog can make to assist a person with a disability, and would not look to actively restrict their access rights, we feel that the training and welfare of those dogs, needs to meet publicly acceptable standards. This is done to protect the public, service providers and safety critical operations, from dogs whose behaviour may negatively impact on the service provision, or the perception of people accessing that service.

We believe that high quality standards are important to protect:

  • welfare of a working assistance dog.
  • welfare of the dog’s owner.
  • welfare and safety of service provision and the public.
  • the ability of people with a legitimate need to be assisted by a dog to have access to services and to be actively included in society.

Hearing Dogs and members of ADUK robustly defend the high-quality standards to which they train their dogs, and the legitimate rights of individuals to use a dog to assist with their disability.

We will achieve this through our continued work with government, its agencies, service providers, and the work we are participating in, to establish:

  • Consistently high values related to our own organisational standards.
  • UK state recognition of legitimate assistance dogs.
  • European standards work on the training, and ownership of assistance dogs.
  • International work to establish a global ISO standard for the training, management and welfare of assistance dogs and the organisations who train them.

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Media enquiries and interview requests:

David Robson

david.robson@hearingdogs.org.uk

T: 01844 348137