Blind World Magazine

United Kingdom.
Blind customer's guide dog ordered out of pub.

November 17, 2005.

A PUB landlord told a registered blind woman that her guide dog would have to leave as it was not allowed on his premises.

Dorothy Knight, 28, was enjoying a drink with her partner in the Coach and Horses pub in Greasby, Wirral, on Tuesday night when they were approached by the landlord.

Ms Knight said: "My guide dog was lying at my feet when the pub owner came over and said 'excuse me, but the dog will have to leave.'

"My partner said a guide dog could not be refused as it was against the Disability Discrimination Act but the landlord insisted it would have to leave because it was only a small pub and there might be people who don't like dogs.

"I said the dog was not used to being left in a vehicle, and in any case I may need it in case I needed to go to the toilet."

Ms Knight, who has had her guide dog Yogi for six years, contacted the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) about the incident.

Barrie Mitchell, who has been licensee of the Coach and Horses for the past nine years, defended his actions.

He said: "I told the couple dogs were not allowed in the pub, and asked them to take it out, though by all means they could finish their drink first.

"This is a tiny little pub and the dog was lying half-way across the doorway and obstructing it.

"I didn't feel I was being discriminatory. The woman was with a bloke, who could see perfectly well, and there was no reason for the dog to be in the pub.

"It didn't look like a guide dog as it had no harness or collar on it, and I wasn't convinced that it was.

"I've been in this business for 21 years and I've nothing against dogs, and guide dogs have been in here before."

The Disability Rights Commission, an independent body established to stop discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people, has advised her to write to the landlord about the incident.

If he did not respond within 14 days or she was not satisfied with his reply, they would take up the case on her behalf.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 established legal rights for disabled people, covering employment, access to services, education, transport and housing. New employment rights and rights of access became law in October, 2004.

'They wouldn't have done this to David Blunkett'

RICHARD McLINDEN, access officer for the Liverpool Association of Disabled People, said refusing to serve someone for bringing a guide dog into the pub was illegal.

He said: "You can't do that under the Disability Discrimination Act.

"If it was a wheelchair user would they have asked her to take that outside? The dog is her eyes as the wheelchair is someone's legs.

"This is illegal and it's stupidity. They would not have asked David Blunkett to take his dog outside.

"Whether she had someone with her makes no difference. The Act is to make people independent and people should be trained in it.

"What if she had to go to the toilet or her friend had to leave early?"

End of article.

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