Thursday, June 1, 2017

Assistance Dogs in Japan

Survey: 60% of blind people with guide dogs face discrimination

The Asahi Shimbun  by MASAHIKO OHTA/ Staff Writer June 1, 2017

Photo/IllutrationGuide dogs, service dogs and hearing dogs are promoted at an event in Osaka’s Kita Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Sixty percent of blind people who use guide dogs were refused entry to restaurants and other public places, despite a law enacted in April 2016 that bans such discriminatory action, a survey showed.

“It might be easier for restaurants and other facilities to discriminate against disabled people with assistance dogs because they can use the excuse, ‘No dogs allowed,’” said Takao Shioya, head of Eye Mate, an association that trains guide dogs.

Eye Mate conducted the survey in February and March on 248 blind people who use guide dogs trained by the association.

It asked them if they suffered any discriminatory treatment between April 2016, when the law took into effect, and February this year.

The survey showed 75 blind people, or 60 percent of the 121 respondents, said they had experienced discrimination during that period.

Allowed to give multiple examples, 57 respondents said they were refused entry to restaurants, 10 were denied entry at commercial facilities such as supermarkets, nine could not enter or stay at accommodation facilities, and nine were rejected by taxi drivers.

A female employee in her 30s who lives in the Tokyo metropolitan area said a restaurant refused her entry because “there are customers who don’t like dogs.”

A homemaker in her 70s from Shizuoka Prefecture said she was told that dogs were prohibited inside a restaurant, so staff escorted her and her guide dog to a terrace seat despite the winter chill.

A man in his 50s from Saitama Prefecture said he was denied entry to a temple after being told, “Even if it’s a guide dog, a dog is a dog.”

The law prohibits business operators in the private sector from discriminating against people because of their disabilities. It clearly states that refusing services for people because of their assistance dogs is discriminatory and unjust. However, there are no penalties for violations.

Dogs are used to help people with other disabilities, and they, too, say they are being discriminated against.

For example, eight members of a hearing dog users association said they have been experienced discrimination, according to the survey by the group.

The survey reflected a similar trend in discriminatory practices, with refusal to allow entry to restaurants as the most common problem. Some respondents were even turned away at convenience stores and hospitals.

Hearing dogs alert the users to important sounds, such as alarms or doorbells.

Various breeds are used as hearing dogs, and business operators might not understand the role played by the animals because deaf and hearing-impaired people may not appear to be disabled.

“We dress our hearing dogs in orange clothes with certifications,” said Moto Arima, chairwoman of the hearing dog association. “However, there are small breeds, such as Chihuahua, so many of the hearing dogs often go unrecognized as such.”

Although figures were not available, reports show that disabled people who use service dogs for mobility have been rejected at hospitals and other facilities.

“Unfortunately, discrimination has not decreased even after the anti-discrimination law took effect,” said Tomoko Takayanagi, a director of the Japan Service Dog Association.

As of May 1,966 guide dogs, 73 hearing dogs and 70 service dogs were actively supporting disabled people, according to Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Many assistance dog users are expected to visit Japan when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Paralympics.

“More awareness among business operators is required,” Arima said. “Discriminatory treatment against disabled people will never decrease unless society matures about the circumstances surrounding assistance dogs.”
Interesting.  Over here the biggest problem seems to be fake assistance dogs...


Fake Assistance Dogs Cause Legitimate Harm

Trained assistance dog teams line up, each person with their trained canine partner

International Assistance Dog Week and Assistance Dogs International plea:
Don’t be a part of the problem. Fraudulent service dogs create serious issues.

July 24, 2016 | Santa Fe, NM and New South Wales, Australia—As more and more people with disabilities are paired with assistance dogs to help them lead more independent and productive lives, service dog teams are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in public places around the world. But how many of these dogs are just pets in vests?

This year during International Assistance Dog Week (IADW), August 2-8, assistance dog training groups around the world, including the members of Assistance Dogs International, a coalition of not-for-profit assistance dog organizations setting standards for the industry, are holding events and doing outreach to educate and raise awareness about the harm being caused by untrained pets posing as service dogs.

When these fake service dogs behave badly, people who truly need assistance dogs can face added discrimination and lose access to public places, both violations of anti-discrimination legislation. Recently, more and more legitimate partners of accredited service dogs have been asked to leave businesses, being told that it is because the shop or restaurant has had so many people try to pass off their unruly pets as accredited service dogs, they now suspect all dogs as fakes.

President of Assistance Dogs International, Richard Lord, from Australia, says that many member organizations have reported that fake service dogs have increased dramatically within the last few years. “A major part of the problem is with online sales of service dog jackets and service dog certifications and ID cards,” Lord explains.

Easy access to cards and vests just adds to the ease of committing fraud. The fact that very few countries have national laws around the proper use of a service dog makes prosecution of fraudsters very difficult.

“I understand people love their dogs and don’t want to leave them at home,” says Marcie Davis, Founder of International Assistance Dog Week. “But they don’t realize that pretending their pet is an assistance dog can be harmful to people like me who depend on a service dogs for essential daily tasks at work, in public, and at home.”

Complicating matters in some countries for businesses concerned about the legitimacy of a purported service dog is that only limited inquiries are allowed, according to standards such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Under that act there are two questions that staff may ask: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? And, (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. A business also has the right to ask a person to remove their dog if its behavior is out of control or a threat to others.

Service dogs are more than a vest purchased for a few dollars online. They require years of expert training to perform specific commands and provide calm, reliable assistance to people with disabilities, including veterans and first responders injured while fighting for their country or supporting their community.

Don’t let anyone be denied the benefits of a trained service dog when they truly need them. Help us expose service dog fraud and stop the discrimination it can cause.

When looking for an assistance dog we recommend that you deal with an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International or the government accreditation body in your country. Please report fake assistance dogs to your local authorities.

Help us celebrate the hard work and devotion assistance dogs provide to their partners by participating in International Assistance Dog Week. Visit for more information.

Contacts: Marcie Davis, or 505-424-6631

Richard Lord, or +61 1800 688 364

International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations. During International Assistance Dog Week, we raise awareness and educate the public about how these specially trained animals are aiding so many people in our communities and honor puppy raisers and trainers. IADW was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, a paraplegic and CEO of Davis Innovations, a consulting firm based in Santa Fe, NM. Davis is the author of “Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook,” and the host of the “Working Like Dogs,” on

Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a coalition of not for profit assistance dog organizations and an IADW partner. The purpose of ADI is to improve the areas of training, placement, and utilization of assistance dogs, staff and volunteer education, as well as educating the public about assistance dogs, and advocating for the legal rights of people with disabilities partnered with assistance dogs. ADI has a comprehensive accreditation system and members have to be regularly assessed to ensure they meet the high standards expected of assistance dog programs.

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