International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners


22 February 2004
Contact: Michael C. Osborn;  Phone:  (001)  949 376-9242

From 24 February 1 March (London) Phone: 0870 333 9120

OUT OF THE DOG HOUSE: British Ban on Assistance Dogs in Airplane Cabins Comes Under Fire

Blind U.S. citizen Michael Osborn is challenging Parliament to change a law that would prohibit his Guide Dog, Hastings, from traveling with him in the cabin of an airplane bound for the U.K. Guide dogs are specially trained to provide safe mobility for people who are blind, Osborn said. This law essentially denies access for people using assistance dogs by separating them from their canine partners. Although my dog lives in my home, he is not a pet, and should not be classified as one.

At issue is the requirement stated in the United Kingdom Pet Travel Scheme, that guide dogs and other assistance animals be held in sealed crates in the cabins or cargo holds of airplanes traveling on flights of five hours or more to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is the only country in the world that will not allow an assistance dog to travel with its handler on such flights. Osborn s proposal was submitted in September 2003, but only now has reached the desk of the Minister of Defra, Ben Bradshaw.

Professionals who train guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure dogs and other forms of assistance dogs have joined in the battle. In addition, more than one hundred individuals, representing over a dozen countries, have submitted testimonials describing successful long haul travel with their assistance dogs.

Mrs. Jill Allen-King, MBE, Chairperson European Blind Union Commission on Mobility and Guide Dogs, stated It seems preposterous that I can travel to the United States, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, with my guide dog at my feet; however, on the return flight I would have to agree to put my dog in a sealed crate in the cargo hold of the airplane.

The five hour cabin policy is arbitrary, not based on experience and seems designed to keep disabled travelers out of the United Kingdom, stated Ed Eames, PhD, President, International Association of Assistance Dog Partners

Michelle Jack, a representative of South African Airways, related, The particular breeds of dogs used as guides are good travelers. They don t have temperament and adjust well to flying. We have researched this policy well and advise that we will not discriminate due to impairment and would adhere to allowing guide dogs aboard South African Airways flights.

Ken Rosenthal, Chairman of the International Guide Dog Federation, stated, A realistic travel scheme is really for the benefit of British guide dog users as much as for those of us from overseas.

The following letter was sent to the British Broadcasting Corporation after Mike Osborn and Tom Pey, representative of the British based Guide Dogs for the Blind Association had appeared on television.

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
President: Ed Eames, Ph.D.
3376 N. Wishon, Fresno, CA 93704-4832
Phone:  (559)224-0544  Fax: (559)224-5851  E-mail:  eeames@csufresno.edu

Board of Directors:
Chris Branson, Toni Eames, Jill Exposito, Joan Froling,
Lynn Houston, Carol King, Devon Wilkins

March 6, 2004

Dear BBC Representatives,

We find it difficult to understand the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's suggestion that flying in the cabin with an assistance dog for more than five hours is cruel and inhumane treatment of our guide dogs.

In 1986 we flew on TWA from New York to Tel Aviv, a 12 hour flight. We both travel with guide dogs and they handled the flight with aplomb. We were invited speakers at the International Mobility conference.

In 1998 we were part of a People to People delegation to South Africa. In addition to our two guide dogs, three other delegation members traveled in the cabin with their service dogs. The flight from New York to Amsterdam was seven hours and the subsequent flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg was 11 hours. KLM was receptive to our dogs and there were no problems.

In 2003 we returned to South Africa on South African Airways. We were again speaking at the International Mobility Conference, did four presentations at veterinary meetings and two for South African Airways. The flight from Atlanta to Cape Town was 15 hours and the return flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta was 18 hours with a fueling layover nine hours out. Although passengers were not allowed off the plane during this stopover, SAA arranged for us to take our guide dogs onto the tarmac for relief.

Over the years, we and our dogs have made approximately 25 coast to coast round trip flights within North America, usually entailing six hours in the air. We have never had a problem in flight.

Disabled long distance travelers carefully regulate their dogs' food and water intake prior to and during flights. Our dogs fit comfortably under the seats in front of us and do not intrude on other passengers.

In 1989 and 1990 we received a grant from the World Institute on Disability to research the guide dog movement in the UK. We made the sacrifice and left our dogs with friends in California in order to carry out our research mission. Being forced to travel with canes was extremely stressful and we vowed not to return to the UK until the quarantine is completely lifted. We know a number of disabled people who have taken a similar position. When the UK welcomes disabled travelers with their assistance dogs without unreasonable restrictions, a new tourism market will be opened for your country.


Ed Eames, Ph.D., President
Toni Eames, M.S., Treasurer

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