skip to content

We understand... you and your dog you and your cat now is the time to register your dog desexing can reduce aggression in dogs desexing cats leads to less unwanted kittens that every dog can bite that Good owners lead to good dogs that good cats have purrfect owners

Homepage-banner

Accreditation of disability dogs

  1. What is a disability dog?
  2. How are disability dogs used?
  3. Where is a disability dog allowed?
  4. How is a disability dog identified?
  5. Can any dog be a disability dog?
  6. Can other animals be accredited?
  7. Can my companion dog be accredited as a disability dog?
  8. What training does my dog need to do to be a disability dog?
  9. How do I apply to have my disability dog accredited?
  10. Where can I get a disability dog that has been trained for me?
  11. Can accreditation be revoked?
  12. Can I pat a disability dog?

 

1. What is a disability dog?

A disability dog is defined under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 as follows:

'a dog trained and used, or undergoing training to be used, for the purpose of assisting a person who is wholly or partially disabled'.

Back to Top

2. How are disability dogs used?

Disability dogs help the disabled or partially disabled in a number of ways.  People with conditions including vision or hearing loss, epilepsy, diabetes, mental illness can be assisted by a disability dog.

Disability dogs help people by providing guidance, confidence, alerting when there is a sound or smell (e.g fire alarm or a person's low blood sugar) or simply by helping some one up if they are prone to falls. Disability dogs can help a person to access the community in the same ways as you and I.

Disability dogs (also referred to as assistance animals) are protected under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Equal Opportunities Act 1984.

Back to Top

3. Where is a disability dog allowed?

    Accreditation provides disability dogs with ‘public access rights’ which permit them, when accompanied by a disabled person, to go anywhere that you or I can go as a member of the public. This includes shops, cinemas, restaurants, buses, trains and libraries.

 Disability dogs may not be permitted where the public is not permitted or where there is a public health risk e.g. intensive care units in hospitals, food preparation areas, private residences.

Does Board accreditation mean I can travel with my dog in-cabin on an airline?

Board accredited ‘disability dogs’ (assistance dogs) do not automatically have the right to travel in-cabin on airlines.

Carriage of assistance animals in aircraft is covered under the Civil Aviation Regulation (1988) 256A. Further information is available on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website: https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/air-operators-rules-and-regulations

Airlines have their own specific policies on the requirements an assistance dog must meet to travel in-cabin, and airlines determine whether or not they will accept any assistance dog for in-cabin travel. Unfortunately the Board is unable to assist with getting access for an assistance dog to travel in-cabin on an airline.

You will need to contact airlines directly to find out their specific requirements and if in-cabin travel with your dog is possible. The requirements may vary from airline to airline, so it is important to contact each airline that you plan to travel with.

For more information about travelling with an assistance dog, please see: https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/assistance-dogs-general-information-travellers or contact airlines directly.

Travelling interstate or overseas with a Board accredited ‘disability dog’

The Board accredits ‘disability dogs’ under SA’s Dog and Cat Management Act 1995. Board accreditation provides a dog with access to public places in South Australia. Other states and territories may have their own local legislation covering assistance dogs and the Board’s accreditation may not necessarily be recognised outside of South Australia.

Before travelling interstate, it’s important that you contact the state government of where you’re planning to travel to get advice on the local laws and requirements around assistance dogs.  

You may also like to find out about public access rights with an Assistance Animal under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 when travelling outside of SA. You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419 or visit their website at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/

If you plan to travel overseas, it’s important to know that your dog’s accreditation under Australian legislation may not be recognised. You will need to contact the government of each country you plan to visit to find out their local laws and requirements for assistance dogs before you travel.  

You will also need to contact the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture to find out about quarantine requirements when travelling overseas and returning to Australia with a dog. For more information visit: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs

 

Moving to South Australia from overseas or interstate with an Assistance Dog

If you are moving to South Australia from overseas with an Assistance Dog you will need to contact the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture for information about importing a dog to Australia. For more information visit: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs/assistance-dogs

The Board may only accredit dogs for people who live in South Australia. Therefore you will not be able to apply for the Board’s accreditation until after you have moved to South Australia. 

If you wish to receive the Board’s ‘disability dog’ accreditation and carry-card issued under Section 21A of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 , you will need to apply in accordance with the Board’s ‘Accreditation of Disability Dogs’ Policy (even if your dog has been accredited by another agency overseas or interstate).

However, accreditation of a 'disability dog' by the Board, is not an absolute requirement for a person with a disability to claim public access rights due to the protection that is available under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). Therefore, if a dog has been accredited by an overseas or interstate agency, you may already have public access rights with your dog under the Commonwealth DDA. You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission infoline on 1300 656 419 for advice on public access rights and 'assistance animals' under the DDA.

Back to Top

4. How is a disability dog identified?

Disability dogs that have been trained by an organisation may wear a jacket or harness which identifies them as a disability dog.

The owners of disability dogs that are accredited by the Dog and Cat Management Board carry a credit card sized identification card which has a photo of the dog and the owner.

  If you are unsure if the dog is a disability dog you can call the Dog and Cat Management Board on 08 8124 4962 or dcmb@sa.gov.au.

View the Dog and Cat Management Board's Accreditation of Disabilty Dogs Policy here

Back to Top

5. Can any dog be a disability dog?

A disability dog can be any shape, colour or size from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane.

Dogs that are not adequately trained, have been declared dangerous, menacing or nuisance and dogs that are unfit to be a disability dog (as decided by a veterinarian) will not be accredited by the Board.

Back to Top

6. Can other animals be accredited?

The Dog and Cat Management Board can only accredit dogs (canine familiaris).

Back to Top

7. Can my companion dog be accredited as a disability dog?

Yes, your companion dog can be accredited as a disability dog if:

  • You are disabled
  • You require a dog to access the community
  • The dog is trained to meet the required standards
  • The dog is fit for service as decided by a veterinarian

Back to Top

8. What training does my dog need to do to be a disability dog?

Your dog needs to be under effective control and hygienic at all times (well groomed, toileting on command etc). Your dog must not be aggressive, anxious, easily distracted or easily startled.

Back to Top

9. How do I apply to have my disability dog accredited?

In South Australia contact the Dog and Cat Management Board on 08 8124 4962 or dcmb@sa.gov.au

Other States and Territories

The Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992, applies throughout Australia and contains information about access rights with an assistance animal and the definition of an assistance animal under the Federal Act.  

You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419 or visit their website at  https://www.humanrights.gov.au/

Only Western Australia and Queensland have their own formal accreditation system.

In Queensland, the Department of Communities, Child Safety, and Disability Services can provide information about assistance dog accreditation under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009. They can be contacted on 13 74 68 or ghadogs@communities.qld.gov.au. Website for more information: http://www.qld.gov.au/disability/out-and-about/certification-public-access-test/

In Western Australia, the Department of Local Government and Communities can provide information about assistance dog accreditation under the Dog Act 1976. They can be contacted on (08) 6551 8700 or info@dlgc.wa.gov.au. Website for more information: http://dlg.wa.gov.au/Content/Community/Dogownership/AssistanceDogs.aspx

 

Back to Top

10. Where can I get a disability dog that has been trained for me?

Assistance Dogs International has a list on their website of organisations that may be able to assist you to find a disability dog www.assistancedogsinternational.org

Back to Top

11. Can accreditation be revoked?

Yes, if the dog is found to be unsuitable as a disability dog, accreditation can be revoked at anytime. If the dog is declared dangerous, menacing or nuisance by your local council, accreditation will be revoked.

If the Board receives complaints from the public about how the disability dog is being used, or how it behaves, accreditation may be revoked.

Back to Top

12. Can I pat a disability dog

You should always ask the owner before you pat a dog, this is particularly important for disability dogs who often have an important job to and should not be distracted under any circumstances. You should never pat a dog without permission from its owner.