A group is campaigning for businesses across Stamford, Bourne and Rutland to welcome assistance dogs for disabled people into their shops and cafes.
Denise Taylor, who works for the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, has teamed up with South Kesteven District Council to help improve awareness among businesses and encourage them to display Assistance Dogs stickers.
The current law allows businesses, including food and drink outlets to give access to dogs which accompany people who are registered Assistance Dogs UK users.
Owners of registered assistance dogs carry ID endorsed by the Chartered Institue of Environmental Health (CIEH) to help clarify to managers that the trained dogs do not pose a hygiene risk if they accompany a user.
Denise, who works with disabled people who need these specially trained dogs, has been campaigning to raise awareness among business owners that are refusing access to Registered Assistance Dog users, including Hearing Dogs, Medical Detection Dogs and Canine Partners.
Denise said: “Everyone is aware that Guide Dogs have the right of access to shops, restaurants and public places, but unfortunately a lot of businesses are unaware of the changes in the law that give other Registered Assistance Dog uses the same access to their premises.
“This can lead to humiliation and distress for the disabled person, when they are refused entry and can cause a great loss in self confidence.
“It is not easy to tell when a person is deaf, or if a person may have a potentially life threatening illness.”
The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to refuse Registered Assistance Dogs access to premises and every business premises should now be displaying the correct Assistance Dog UK signage.
Among the businesses already welcoming assistance dogs are Gooches Cafe in Stamford.
Denise said: “We want to encourage those businesses that are unaware of the change in law, to find out more about their obligations towards Registered Assistance Dog Users.”
SKDC’s Environmental health team leader at South Kesteven District Council Judy Hulland said many food and drink owners in the district allowed assistance dogs. She said she knew many business owners were concerned about infringing environmental health law.
She added: “All we ask is that they enquire thoughtfully and respectfully with the customer that the animal is a registered assistance dog and where required request to see the ID.”
To obtain an ADUK Registered Assistance Dog sticker visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk.