Owen Thompson MP met with guide dog owners in the Houses of Parliament to hear about their experiences of being turned away by businesses. Over 100 guide dog owners had travelled to Westminster from across the country to talk to their MPs about the discrimination they face in their daily lives.
The MP for Midlothian gave support to the Guide Dogs charity’s “Access All Areas” campaign, to ensure guide dog owners can carry out everyday activities such as travel by taxi or go to the local shops, without the risk of being turned away.
According to law, guide dog owners are allowed the same access to shops, restaurants and taxis as everyone else. Yet, all too often, guide dog owners are told that their dog is not welcome and not allowed in. In fact, three out of every four guide dog owners has been turned away from a taxi, business or service because of their dog.
Mr Thompson is supporting Guide Dogs’ call for disability equality training, and for offenders to be properly punished under the law when they illegally discriminate against guide dog owners.
James White, Senior Advocacy Manager for Guide Dogs, said:
“Guide dog owners rely on their dogs to feel confident and supported. Being turned away by a business leaves people feeling angry, upset and embarrassed. It can rob people of their independence and can leave them unable to do everyday activities. Despite the law being clear on this issue, guide dog owners are still experiencing this form of discrimination every day and this needs to change.”
Owen Thompson MP commented:
“I’d like to thank Guide Dogs and their members for coming to Westminster from across the UK to share their experiences of discrimination. It was eye-opening to learn about the issues with which guide dog and assistance dog owners must contend on a daily basis, and I am happy to help the Guide Dogs ‘Access All Areas’ campaign however I can.”