International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners
AUSTRALIA CONSULTS IAADP ON QUARANTINE ISSUE
Possible Exemption from 30 Day Quarantine for Service and Hearing Dogs
Subject: Import conditions for assistance dogs
Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 09:43:56 +1000
My name is Dr Bob Templeton of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) in Canberra. I am currently working on the development of import conditions of assistance dogs into Australia. AQIS has produced a caring guide dog import policy that has been well received . The lawyers bringing the class action against the State of Hawaii on guide dog imports used the Australian conditions to win their case.
With the guide dogs it is easy to establish 1. the owner'sdisability and, 2. the dog's qualifications. We are having trouble working out some method of acceptable confirmation that a dog is indeed an assistance dog. I believe that your organisation is truly international and that we may be able to use some form of accreditation from you as verification of the assistance dog's status. Can you provide such verification?
The problem is that dogs imported from many countries are required to spend a set amount of time in an approved quarantine station. From the USA it is a minimum of 30 days. Guide dogs, however, are placed under quarantine surveillance and are not placed in a quarantine station. Assistance dogs should be able to have the same privileges as guide dogs. We don't want a pet dog masquerading as an assistance dog missing the 30 days quarantine confinement. The conditions could be easily open to abuse.
Can you also supply me with information on how other countries treat assistance dogs when their owners wish to take them with them. Australia is free from rabies and of course we wish to remain so. Taking an assistance dog to Canada from the US might be easy but getting it into Hawaii, Japan, the UK, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway or Australia may be hard or even impossible. Preservation of these country's rabies freedom is their primary consideration.
I hope you can help me. Best wishes in your endeavours.
Dr Bob Templeton
Senior Veterinary Officer
IAADP REPLY TO AUSTRALIA
November 7, 1998
Dr. Bob Templeton, Senior Veterinary Officer
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service
Dear Dr. Templeton,
Thank you for contacting IAADP in your endeavor to develop a reasonable import policy for assistance dogs while continuing to protect Australia's rabies free status. We hope the following response will be helpful and that AQIS will rapidly move toward developing a policy which permits the importation of assistance dogs without the requirement that they remain in a quarantine station. With the much heralded event of Australia hosting the Olympic Games, which for the first time in history includes the Paralympics, the need to move quickly should be readily apparent. Disabled athletes and supporters would like to be accompanied by their assistance dogs to maintain their level of independent functioning.
Although IAADP is indeed an international organization, with members in more than ten countries, it is not an accreditation agency. Rather, it is a consumer /advocacy organization, and, as such, vitally interested in breaking down the barriers erected against the free movement throughout the world of people with disabilities and their assistance dogs. Therefore, we want to do everything we can to include hearing and service dogs in the quarantine exemption.
In addition to guide dogs, the two major categories of working canines are hearing dogs and service dogs. Hearing dogs alert their deaf and hard-of-hearing partners to unheard sounds in the environment such as the smoke alarm, door knock or bell, telephone, emergency vehicle warning sounds, name call, etc. Service dogs retrieve dropped or requested items such as telephones, writing and reading material and clothing, open and close doors, ring elevator buttons, etc.
In your letter you note that it is easy to establish the qualifications of guide dogs. Although these dogs provide a more standardized form of service for their blind partners, hearingand service dogs, through their individualized and disability specific training, provide a vital service to those choosing to be teamed with a canine assistant. In your current quarantine regulation, guide dog users are not asked for proof of legal blindness nor required to demonstrate the functioning of their dogs. In like fashion, other disabled people should not be asked to prove their disability or their dogs' services.
The problem in extending current policy to all assistance dogs you suggest is the fear that pet dogs could come into Australia masquerading as assistance dogs and bypass the present restrictions. That could indeed be a problem. The best solution is to clearly notify everyone that any attempt to pass a pet dog as an assistance dog will be met with punitive action in the form of fines and imprisonment and the dog placed in quarantine.
We believe AQIS should focus on the central issue of keeping Australia rabies free while removing restrictions placed on disabled people who want to travel to your country with their hearing and service dogs. If we focus on that issue, then the fear of an occasional pet bypassing the import station requirement becomes less significant than establishing the veterinary medical procedures necessary to guarantee that no infected dog will enter the country. Since these procedures are already in place for guide dogs, extending them to hearing or service dogs should not be a problem. We need to balance the fear of an occasional impostor with placing restrictions on those disabled people who have chosen to work with assistance dogs. Many of these same arguments must have been raised in the debate over relaxing restrictions on guide dogs, but AQIS did decide to exempt them from the need to stay in a quarantine station and remain under quarantine surveillance.
In fighting the Hawaii quarantine issue in the courts, it was pointed out that no guide dog on record had ever had rabies, that guide dogs were essential in maintaining the safety and independence of their blind partners, that leaving dogs at home while traveling to Hawaii threatened the bond and the dog's training and that separation from the guide dog limited the blind person's ability to participate in the programs and services provided by the state of Hawaii. Exactly the same can be said of those working with hearing and service dogs. In fact, when the next litigation is undertaken against the state of Hawaii, this parallel need for hearing and service dogs will be a fundamental issue. These same arguments are applicable to the Australian situation.
I hope this letter and the material accompanying it will help you and AQIS move toward an enlightened policy extending the same rights of entry to Australia to hearing and service dogs as that currently offered to guide dogs.
Ed Eames, Ph.D., President
3376 North Wishon
Fresno, CA 93704-4832
IAADP INVITES INPUT FROM THE ASSISTANCE DOG COMMUNITY
After IAADP responded to this inquiry from Australia, we obtained permission from Dr. Templeton to share his letter with others in the assistance dog community. All the assistance dog partners and representatives of guide dog and/or service dog and /or hearing dog programs attending IAADP's Conference Day received a copy of his letter and IAADP's reply in their conference packet. We also shared this important communication with the Board of Assistance Dogs International so it could respond as an organization.
We are publishing it in Partner's Forum along with IAADP's reply, to inform all IAADP members in the USA and other countries of Australia's willingness to provide those partnered with service and hearing dogs with the same exemption received by guide dog users if a suitable method of identification can be worked out. All the individuals and organizations which participate in our information and advocacy network now have an opportunity to respond with a letter expressing their thoughts on the subject if desired. Please send it to IAADP. We'd like to know how assistance dog partners feel about the identification issue and how others in the assistance dog field suggest it be addressed. You are welcome to submit a Letter to the Editor for possible publication in the newsletter and on the website, on the subject and if so, be sure to mark it "Letter for the Editor" so we will know we have permission to share it with others through Partners Forum and the website.
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