The organisation has been working towards assisting working dogs and their owners to gain access to public spaces such as restaurants and shopping centres through their Working Dog Access Programme.
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The executive director of the South African Guide-Dogs Association Vernon Tutton said, “We’re on a mission against anyone who takes the rights away from people with disabilities. We have many cases where our dogs, including puppies in training, can’t go into a restaurant or supermarkets.”
Tutton added that the organisation doesn’t support people entering establishments with their household pets, they only focus on those who need working dogs to move around.
The organisation has begun a process of meeting up with various stakeholders and organisations to discuss these processes.
Members of the SA Guide-Dogs Association gathered on 8 October to thank The Rock in Kyalami for the consistent care they give to working dogs and their owners. Locals and puppy trainers Colin and Robyn Drowley joined the event with their third puppy-in-training, Upton. The puppy training process acts as a form of assisting the organisation in taking in a prospective working dog for a year to help them learn to socialise with the outside world before they go back to the organisation for further training.
Robyn said going into public spaces is very important to the puppy’s training. “The Rock has been so welcoming to us, even the staff. They have been amazing to us and it’s been so positive, but it’s been quite mixed when it comes to other restaurants. Some won’t let us in.”
Colin explained that, in their experience, it has been an effort to educate people about working dogs – usually front of the house in restaurants and security in supermarkets show resistance.
Spokesperson for the SA Guide-Dogs Association Pieter van Niekerk added, “We are currently in the progress to talk to security companies in order to educate them on the importance of working dogs and giving them access.”
Manager of The Rock Christelle Vermeulen said that the restaurant gladly serves patrons with working dogs. “I’m also a dog person. I think the work that the SA Guide-Dogs Association does is absolutely fantastic and we are happy to assist.”
South African Guide-Dogs Association: (011) 705-3512.
Via Fourways Review