Sign In

Assistance Dogs

August 11, 2020

A Canberra woman is taking two Blue Mountains accommodation providers to the Australian Human Rights Commission for breaching the Disability Discrimination Act.

Melanie Maclean said she has lodged a complaint with the commission after Leura House and 3 Sisters Motel declined to take her booking because of her son’s assistance dog. Both providers said they were unaware of legislative requirements at the time.

On June 30, Ms Maclean tried to make bookings for the July school holidays at 3 Sisters Motel and Leura House. When both were refused, she couldn’t face the prospect of a third rejection and decided to stay at home.

She said their labrador Shiloh is a certified assistance dog who has been hugely beneficial for her seven-year-old son Gus, who is on the autism spectrum.

“He hasn’t had a full meltdown in two years. He self-regulates with her,” Ms Maclean said.

“There is no way that I would go anywhere without her.”

Ms Maclean said life was challenging enough for her son and precluding him from having a holiday with his assistive technology – equivalent to a hearing aid or wheelchair – was hurtful.

Certified assistance dogs are required by law to be clean and groomed, have had extensive training, including toilet training, and also have documentation, she said.

Ms Maclean said she’s not seeking monetary compensation from either business, she just wants to generate awareness.

“I want them to accept animals and acknowledge that,” Ms Maclean said.

3 Sisters Motel manager Jason Dorrington said until Ms Maclean had sent him a link to an article explaining that service animals must be accepted at any property, he was unaware of the law.

“I read it and said I would take the booking and thanked her for sending the email to me. I had no idea service animals had to be accepted,” he said.

Mr Dorrington said he would accept certified service animals now.

Garry Maxfield from Leura House described it as a “misunderstanding”.

“Along with other accommodation providers we weren’t aware of the rules, the requirements and the certification,” he said.

“In the future it’s not a problem.”

Ms Maclean also raised the matter with Blue Mountains Council.

“Council is liaising with local accommodation providers about federal legislation that requires that assistance dogs be welcomed at their establishments,” a Blue Mountains Council spokeswoman said.

“Council is not a regulator of discrimination. Council acts as an advisor with respect to the provisions of discrimination legislation. This follows council’s commitment to the principle of equal access for all.”

The office of Gareth Ward, the State Minister for Disability Services, Families and Communities declined to comment on federal legislation.

The Gazette contacted the Australian Human Rights Commission, but a spokesperson said it was not their policy to comment on complaints.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more