Rights of assistance dogs and their owners
Allergies to dogs are caused by a reaction to certain proteins found in oils secreted from a dog's skin and in their saliva - it is not the hair itself that causes allergies. When a dog sheds hair, or its skin flakes off, these proteins are carried into the immediate environment where they may cause an allergic reaction.
Allergies are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to guide dog owners and other assistance dogs. When a person who is allergic to dogs has to share the same room with a guide dog owner e.g. in a classroom, they both should be accommodated by assigning them if possible (depending on the activity or size of the room) to different areas within the room or a different room within the facility.
Being careful is the key to dealing with allergies.
- it is a good idea to let the guide dog owner know that you suffer from dog allergies
- it is advisable to avoid physical contact with the dog if you have an allergy
- wash your hands after you touch the dog
- never touch your face or eyes after you've touched the dog
- you may want to restrict your dog's access to certain areas where there is restricted space or an activity involving contact with others in unavoidable. The dog can be kept in a room with a member of staff and sighted guide provided
Care within the facility
- wipe down smooth surfaces in the room regularly and vacuum frequently
- use air sterilisers and vacuum cleaners with filters
- an ozone machine could be used in areas regularly used by a dog when it is vacant
Unless you are a taxi or minicab driver and you have a valid exemption certificate (issued by your local authority), it is against the law to refuse access to an assistance dog owner.