Learn About
UK ASSISTANCE DOG LAW
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This is a resource that was put
together to inform the public of
the law governing assistance
dogs in the United Kingdom.
There has been a lot of
confusion about what is legal
here and what is not.
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UK ASSISTANCE DOG LAW

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All program and owner trained assistance dog owners are protected under this law.

Download the European Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Ability Scotland booklets to help explain your rights here in the UK.

This is the law in Northern Ireland

This is law in England, Wales & Scotland 

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Here are the sections which cover you.

2010 c. 15 Part 2 Chapter 1 Section 6 – Disability

 

(1) A person (P) has a disability if—

 

           (a) P has a physical or mental impairment, and

           (b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

 

(2) A reference to a disabled person is a reference to a person who has a disability.

 

(3) In relation to the protected characteristic of disability—

 

           (a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person who has a particular disability;

           (b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who have the same disability.

 

(4) This Act (except Part 12 and section 190) applies in relation to a person who has had a disability as it applies in relation to a person who has the disability; accordingly (except in that Part and that section)—

 

           (a) a reference (however expressed) to a person who has a disability includes a reference to a person who has had the disability, and

           (b) a reference (however expressed) to a person who does not have a disability includes a reference to a person who has not had the disability.

 

(5) A Minister of the Crown may issue guidance about matters to be taken into account in deciding any question for the purposes of subsection (1).

 

(6) Schedule 1 (disability: supplementary provision) has effect.

2010 c. 15 Part 2 Chapter 2 Adjustments for disabled persons Section 20 - Duty to make adjustments and being substantially disadvantaged

 

(1) Where this Act imposes a duty to make reasonable adjustments on a person, this section, sections 21 and 22 and the applicable Schedule apply; and for those purposes, a person on whom the duty is imposed is referred to as A.

 

(2) The duty comprises the following three requirements.

 

(3) The first requirement is a requirement, where a provision, criterion or practice of A's puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.

 

(4) The second requirement is a requirement, where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.

 

(5) The third requirement is a requirement, where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to provide the auxiliary aid.

 

(6) Where the first or third requirement relates to the provision of information, the steps which it is reasonable for A to have to take include steps for ensuring that in the circumstances concerned the information is provided in an accessible format.

 

(7) A person (A) who is subject to a duty to make reasonable adjustments is not (subject to express provision to the contrary) entitled to require a disabled person, in relation to whom A is required to comply with the duty, to pay to any extent A's costs of complying with the duty.

 

(8) A reference in section 21 or 22 or an applicable Schedule to the first, second or third requirement is to be construed in accordance with this section.

 

(9) In relation to the second requirement, a reference in this section or an applicable Schedule to avoiding a substantial disadvantage includes a reference to—

 

            (a) removing the physical feature in question,

            (b) altering it, or

            (c) providing a reasonable means of avoiding it.

 

(10) A reference in this section, section 21 or 22 or an applicable Schedule (apart from paragraphs 2 to 4 of Schedule 4) to a physical feature is a reference to—

 

            (a) a feature arising from the design or construction of a building,

            (b) a feature of an approach to, exit from or access to a building,

            (c) a fixture or fitting, or furniture, furnishings, materials, equipment or other chattels, in or on premises, or

            (d) any other physical element or quality.

 

(11) A reference in this section, section 21 or 22 or an applicable Schedule to an auxiliary aid includes a reference to an auxiliary service.

 

(12) A reference in this section or an applicable Schedule to chattels is to be read, in relation to Scotland, as a reference to moveable property.

 

(13) The applicable Schedule is, in relation to the Part of this Act specified in the first column of the Table, the Schedule specified in the second column.

2010 c. 15 Part 2 Chapter 2 Discrimination Section 15 - Discrimination arising from disability.

 

(1) A person (A) discriminates against a disabled person (B) if—

 

            (a) A treats B unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of B's disability, and

            (b) A cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

 

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if A shows that A did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that B had the disability.

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ASSISTANCE DOG LAW

Q&A

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Frequently asked questions we hear from the assistance dog community.  Contact us if you have any further questions and we will add the answers here.

 

Is training your own assistance dog/service dog allowed in the UK?

            Yes. Many people like to train their own dogs because they can be trained better for the handler's individual needs.  The training programs existing in the UK cannot keep up with demand. 


What makes an assistance dog?

            The dog will mitigate their human partner’s disability by performing certain tasks.  The dog will act to a high standard in pubic.  They will be calm, clean and well presented.

 

What’s the difference between an assistance dog and a service dog?

            There is no difference.  An assistance dog is what a service dog is called in the UK.  Service dog can refer to military dogs as well in the UK.  So we will use assistance dog, from now on in this portion.

 

Is there an UK Assistance Dog Registry?

            No.  There never has been a registry here.  Dogs do not have to be registered to work in the UK.  This is a myth.

Are there UK assistance dog ID cards?

            No.  The training program that trained your dog may issue an ID card.  This does not make your dog any more legal than an assistance dog without an ID card.  At present there are no government ID cards. 


How do I spot an assistance dog?

            The assistance dog will be wearing something that labels it as an assistance dog or service dog.  The dog may be wearing a jacket or a vest also they could be wearing a harness.  Any colour can be worn and no colour means anything specific. There are photos throughout this site of assistance dogs in different garb.

Do I need to tell people what my assistance dog is for?

            You do not have to answer people who may ask what your assistance dog is for or how they are trained.  You cannot be excluded because of what kind of assistance dog you work with.  You will likely get asked by the general public, but staff are not allowed to ask more than if you're with an assistance dog.  It's up to you if you want to reply to people about what your dog does.    It's totally dependent on what kind of person you are. 

 

            We have members who have long conversations about their dogs, ones who like to explain any behaviour beforehand and others that pretend they can't hear and just walk past people.  We would suggest being open with medical staff about what they can watch for in the dog's behaviour.  They have thanked us for explaining to them how our assistance dogs telegraph medical emergencies.

Do I need to insure my assistance dog?

            It is not legally required to insure your assistance dog or assistance dog in training.  We would recommend it though. Most programs will have insurance set up to cover their dogs.  Non-program dogs should have their own insurance as well.  This will ensure equal standing in our community.  There are many insurance companies that will insure assistance dogs.  Be sure that your dog is insured as an assistance dog and not just a working dog.  Liability should be covered.

Where can I take my assistance dog?

            Assistance dogs are legally permitted in all public places.  This includes grocery stores, department stores and malls, Parliament, jails and Sheriff Courts, cinemas, hotels and amusement parks & many more!   We have listed some of the exceptions below.  If you do not know for sure then it is worth a phone call to find out.  Some websites will not have been updated so calling is best.

How can I get started owner training?

            We recommend that prospective teams go through the Good Citizen Training Scheme.  At the moment this is the best way to get socialisation and obedience training that we know of.  If you do go through the Scheme, then you have certificates to prove your training.  A private trainer could also do it.  If you feel you can do this training on your own then try it, it's not illegal.  This will give you a firm foundation for assistance dog training. 

            During obedience training, socialising your dog in assistance dog accessible places is up to you.  This is very important.  YouTube is very handy for helping you understand what special medical training your dog needs to learn & how to teach it.  

What if my dog is in training?

            If you're unsure of how your dog will act in a new situation, please be sure they are marked as In Training, even if it is just for that day.  Dogs in training have less rights than full assistance dogs.  But by the same token a wider variety of behaviours are tolerated.

            Owners should try to prepare their dog for likely distractions in each environment before presenting them.  It makes us all look bad if one of us has not done the work to make their dog prepared.  Please don't let the team down! 

Am I protected if my assistance dog is attacked?

            Yes, you are protected by law.  Even if your dog is exercising and is not marked as an assistance dog, you can prosecute. 

Can I travel with my assistance dog?

            Travelling on buses and trains is very easy in the UK even for pet dogs.  Public transport (Such as trains, buses, trams & the underground) is great for disabled access though people using motorised scooters will probably have problems.  With taxis, boats and ferries, it can depend on the company.  This is the same for all assistance dogs at the moment.  We would suggest you call them because websites can have old information on them.  With airlines it can depend on the carrier.  Flights from other countries are generally fine but flights out of the UK can be difficult.  Currently Rizzo's Legacy is working on helping us solve these problems.

Can I travel to different parts of the United Kingdom with my assistance dog?

           The Equality Act of 2010 covers England, Wales & Scotland.  In Northern Ireland the Disabilities Discrimination Act of 1995 is the law.  Despite this, we have never heard of a problem with travel throughout the UK.

Would my assistance dog be welcome at my GP's office?

            GPs and other non-hospital doctors can be ignorant of assistance dogs.  It is up to us to show them what these dogs can do and how beneficial they are for us.  In a lot of cases our dogs can be better than a lot of medications, they also keep people living independent lives.  You may have to bring printouts for them to read.  This goes for all assistance dogs, owner trained and program.

What if I need to go to the hospital?

            The NHS is very understanding of assistance dogs.  We can't count the number of times we have been told by nurses, doctors and emergency staff that having an assistance dog is beneficial at the hospital.  They are welcome on ambulances as well as in the hospital. Let the staff know you have an assistance dog and what to watch out for as they work.  If you must stay in the hospital, then your dog can stay with you as there's no legislation to say that a dog is different to auxiliary aids.

            If you have a patch on your dog's gear that reads "Do Not Separate Dog and Handler" then staff are responsible to keep your dog with you.  This is comforting to know in case of loss of consciousness.  When travelling in an ambulance it is recommended to have a seat belt leash for your dog, even if it is just transport.

Can I take my assistance dog to my church?

            Yes you can.  It is best if you ask at your temple, church, synagogue or mosque before showing up. We know lots of people who worship beside their assistance dogs.  If the building is a tourist attraction, we can't see how they would not allow it.  Maybe checking with your travel agent would be best.  In some cultures dogs are not revered.  Its always best to be respectful and choose places you and your dog will be welcome. 

Can I bring my assistance dog to my child's school or can my child take their dog to school?
          You have the legal right as with anywhere but due to there being children involved it  we would suggest calling the Head and presenting the dog to him/her after school hours.  They might ask to do a Risk Assessment.  This is something they would do for anything like events and special guests.  This may be the case even if the dog is a visiting adult's and not a child's.  It depends on the school with all of this, so please ask.  Visiting guests should make the school aware of their assistance dog before the day of their speech.

 ****These dogs are more than what they wear!!!****   

 

Below are videos showing some tasks assistance dogs can be trained to do and how an assistance dog should act in public places.       

 

WHY CHOOSE TO OWNER TRAIN?

Owner training is a wonderful way to bond with your future assistance dog.  Even if you have the help of a professional, through classes or one on one help, you and your dog will become an amazing unit.

Tailoring our dogs to their handler’s individual needs is a big plus in owner training.  Many of us have complex conditions or a lot of diverse health problems.  An owner trained dog can be trained in a wide variety of tasks.  Some programs provide dogs trained in two disciplines.  But a dog trained specifically for you can be trained in more than two.  Many of our dogs are trained in four or more disciplines.

Here are a few conditions that are not covered by the UK programs: 
Complex disorder/any form of brain damage, multiple disability, MS (doesn’t have a set presentation), any condition that affects more than one sense (deafness with Hemiplegia from Meningitis for example), brain tumours (cases were treatment has been successful but left with difficulty), post traumatic accident (such as a car crash). Rhett Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, chromosome disorders, Encephalitis, Gilliam Barre, spinal injury, Neuroblastoma, PTSD, Parkinson’s, joint and connective tissue disorders that also have cognitive and sensory involvement (such as Fibromyalgia, ME and Lyme Disease).

We give kudos to those UK programs that dual train your assistance dogs.  It is a way forward for many people.

 

In short owner trained dogs are a much needed resource.  While there have been great strides here, there are so many combinations of cross training that no program could cope with it.  Helping vulnerable people feel empowered to live on their own.  Saving the NHS money by patients needing less doctoring and reduced medication.

 
Dom, Archie, Snoop, Karma, Vali & Sargen

Our campaign (OTCC) was started by three friends with owner trained assistance dogs here in the UK.

We realized that people in our community were being unfairly discriminated against.  This was because their assistance dogs were not trained by certain  large training programs.

To make the public aware of what was happening we put together an online petition in 2015.  Through this, we became in contact with a very worried community of fifteen hundred+ owner trainers throughout the UK.  This includes many of the UK's smaller training programs.

We work together with advocates from Rizzo's Legacy to fight discrimination in all levels of life in the UK.  Together we have made our voice heard at the UK Parliament and we are now involved in creating new protection for our community.

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Dom, Archie, Snoop, Karma, Vali & Sargen

The OTADCC was started by three friends with owner trained assistance dogs here in the UK. We realised that people in our community were being unfairly discriminated against. This was because their assistance dogs were not trained by certain large training programs. To make the public aware of what was happening we put together an online petition in 2015. Through this, we became in contact with a very worried community of fifteen hundred+ owner trainers throughout the UK. This includes many of the UK's smaller training programs. We facilitate communication between users and have created a close knit community. Assistance dog partnerships that used to think they were alone now meet up with others in their area.

In 2017 our advocates helped change the
European Human Rights Commission Guide to Assistance Dogs publication so it was in line with the law. The OTADCC have been invited to meetings with the DWP ODI and APDAWG group at the UK Parliament. We also are regularly at the Scottish Parliament in their CPG for Disability. Advocates also help any one who comes to us with issues with Housing, Public Services and University discrimination. We provide written materials and educate at schools. We are volunteers and all this is free of charge. We fight everyday against discrimination and ignorance in the UK. Our goal is to bring about equality for all assistance dogs. 

Vincent
Vincent
Luna
Luna
Marmaduke
Marmaduke
Archie
Archie
Bandit
Bandit

Bandit

Bruce
Bruce
Laz
Laz
Nugget
Nugget
Storm
Storm
Diesel
Diesel

Diesel

Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
Lola
Lola
Jimmy
Jimmy
Odin-Lee
Odin-Lee
Lone Star
Lone Star
Skye
Skye
Hunter
Hunter
Rocky
Rocky

Rocky

 
 

SHOP 

At the OTADCC we fight for assistance dog rights under UK law.  Discrimination should never be considered normal.

We work together with advocates to fight for equality.  The
OTADCC made our voice heard at the UK Parliament & the Scottish Parliament. 

 

We are currently involved in creating new protection for our community. 

 

Please help us with our work!

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News & Events

WATCH THIS SPACE

13/03/17 - 13/06/17 - EHRC Guide to Businesses

Advocates from the OTCC & Rizzo's Legacy worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on making their new booklets Assistance dogs: a guide for all businesses & Take the lead: a guide to welcoming customers with assistance dogs.  We made sure that these booklets reflected the Equality Act of 2010 and showed all assistance dogs in the UK as equal.

Thank you to OTCC Co-Founder Alison & our Advocate Sharon (Rizzo's Legacy)

16/08/17 - 1pm-3pm - Caxton House

Assistance Dog Rountable Meeting 

UK Parliament assistance dog meeting about the future of the law in the UK.

Thank you to our Advocate Sharon & Ottie; Co-Founder Alison & Bear!

27/07/17 - Park Primary - Alloa,Scotland

Assistance Dog Talk for P2

OTCC Co-Founder Alison taught a class of P2 about assistance dogs.   Education is very important to our movement!  This was covered by the local paper Alloa Advertiser See the article.

20/02/18  - 10am-3pm  -  Quad

The Therapeutic Use of Animals

Many UK programs, both ADUK and non, will have tables available there.  We are honoured to have been invited as well.

 

Thank you to OTCC Co-Founder Shane & Ambassador Kar & Sharon for making this a successful event!  Assistance Dogs Loki, Dom & Ottie were stars. 

08/04/18 - 11am-5pm - Costa Coffee

London Stratford (Westfields) E20   

OT Assistance Dog Meet Up

Whether your assistance dog is fully trained or in training, this location is a great place to test the dog's skill to focus. We can work on things such as heeling through crowds, attention around distractions.

Thank you to Co-Founder Shane & Ambassador Kar for making this a successful event!  There were three dogs and four humans.  Kar hopes to be running this meet up more often.  So watch this space!

 

10/06/18 - International Publicity 

IAADP Partner's Forum

Our website has been added to quite a few other UK assistance dog websites for the information we provide.

Now the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) have taken notice of us. Co-Founder Alison Skillin has been quoted, in newsletter 23 page 5, and mention was made of our campaign.  Links to this page and to our petition from 3 years ago were in the article too. It is great to get some international attention.

21/09/18 - Letter from Minister for Old People & Equalities

The Scottish Government attests that they will not be seeking any amendments to the Equality Act of 2010.  

The Minister for Old People & Equalities, Christine McKelvie MSP, says that any breach of the Equality Act is against the law.  (more on our FB page).

12/11/18 - 11am-5pm - London Stratford (Westfields) E20        OT Assistance Dog Meetup 2018 -

Lunch & Training

Thank you for the amazing response!  We had 6 assistance dog partnerships come along to our event.  Training and fun was had by all.

Thank you to Ambassador/Training Adviser Kar for putting together this event and meeting everyone there.

18/02/19 - London Stratford

 (Westfields) E20   

OT Assistance Dog Meet Up

We had a lovely meet up.  Thank you to Michael for organising it and to Violet for keeping him company!  They used a mobility scooter to train ADiT Eevie while AD Holly-May showed her how she should walk with it.

22/02/19  - OTCC article published

A short 500 word article was published on My Assistance Dog Inc.  It is an overview of the discrimination our community have had to deal with due to ADUK.  We hope it leads to some change.  Please comment and share.

10/05/19 - International Publicity 

IAADP Partner's Forum

This is a mega article!  Our fight is public now for all the world to see.  IAADP published a 4 page expose on discrimination in the UK and the OTCC.  Look at page 18-22 though you can see Dom on the front page!  Thank you so much to Editor Laura Rose.

30/05/19 - OTCC Delegation to National Express

A  delegation of owner trained assistance dog owners confronted National Express coaches today.  They have revised their policy to not allow the whole of that assistance dog community.  Now we've been told that they will be looking at changing the policy back.  Right now they only allow ADUK/CGI on board.

Thank you to Sharon, Issy, Aimee and Beth for representing our interests.

05/06/19  -  Meeting with MSPs

Alison and Bear were invited to a meeting on disabilities at the Scottish Parliament.  She posed questions to the Secretary Minister for Old People & Equality Christine McKelvie and other MSPs on the assistance dog situation.  Contact information was asked for by the ministers.  She was invited to the next meeting of the group.

19/10/19 - ASA Award Finalist

The OTCC has been chosen as a finalist in by the Animal Star Awards in the Animal Education Award category for the services we provide to our community.  Though we didn't win our team are proud to be nominated.  

 

 

10/09/19 - New OTCC Group and A New Team Member

We would like to announce a new FB group hosted by the OTCC.  We felt this might be the best way for our community to get to know each other.  Please come along and see what we're about.

I'm also pleased to welcome a new admin to our team.  Lexy Barrable is a law student.  Welcome Lexy and Jaxx!

29/10/19 - House of Commons - Animal Welfare

Alison Skillin was invited to the APDAWG meeting on Animal Welfare in the UK House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster.  

She is currently advocating for our rights with them.

Thank you to Shane Snowwolf for acting as Alison's Carer.

18/12/19 - Scottish Parliament - CPG on Disability - Meet Up @ 2:30pm

Co-Founder Alison Skillin & Monk attended the Cross Party CPG on Disability at the Scottish Parliament in the early afternoon. 

Thank you to everyone that came at met me at the Meet Up after the meeting.  Due to the amazing amount of interest we'll hold another one when the weather is a bit warmer.

19/02/2020 - Nominated for NDA

Thank you to everyone who nominated us for the ITV National Diversity Awards 2020. This is for our grassroots and the strides we have made for the owner trained community.

Please vote for us and tell them what we have done for you and those your know.  Help us bring our issues into the UK public spotlight.

12/11/2020 - New Head

Alison Skillin steps down as head but still stays on as an advocate.  Lexy Barrable takes the reins to lead us into a bright new future.

COVID!!! -- ADAWG & SP CPG Zoom

Alison Skillin still attends APDAWG meetings at the UK Parliament House of Commons and the CPG for Disability at the Scottish Parliament virtually via Zoom.  The last meetings before the break for both groups were in March. 

01/04/21 AD Access Survey by Alison Skillin

Our advocate was invited to give a ten minute presentation to the UK Parliament groups, APDAWG & APPG on access right problems for our community.  She plans to ask for universal government signage for businesses and public services plus a look at unlawful policy.  Fill in this anonymous survey.

 

We wish her the best of luck! 

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Advocacy

One of our experienced advocates will help you with any access problems you are having.

We ask for a donation.

Provide Leaflets

We have leaflets that might help you with any issues. 

We are working on more varieties of these.

Free

 

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