Animal Welfare Alert: 2 Pieces of Labour Legislation That Fail Service Animals
Yesterday, a story quietly broke that was overlooked by the news stations but did make the newspapers. The story involves a middle-age deaf man and his service dog being thrown out of a restaurant in Wimbledon.
On a superficial level, there is nothing news worthy. People go into a restaurant every day with their service animals. So what makes this story newsworthy? The deaf man did nothing wrong besides bringing his service dog with him.
When I read the story it highlighted for me the current issue Britain faces regarding the definition and use of animals. For me, the article again highlights not all animals are equal and some animals are vital for people to contribute to society. Today, I focus on this story today because it highlights the problems with the Animal Welfare Act and the Equality Act.
Animal Welfare Act
To begin with, as many of you who follow me know, I am not a supporter of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and my followers will know I believe the Animal Welfare Act has many problems. The Animal Welfare Act legislation passed under the last Labour government. However, it is a “one size fits all” approach to animal welfare. In an earlier article, I demonstrated where opportunities lie in a post-Brexit Britain for animal welfare reform and demonstrated Britain lags behind other developed nations when it comes to animal welfare.
Using the above article as an example, how could the Animal Welfare Act be amended to prevent yesterday’s incident from happening. I believe there are two parts to the act for amending. The first is redefining animal as other countries have to differentiate between companion animals, service animals, wild and livestock. By differentiating the types animals I believe it will make it easier to write legislation that protects the rights of the disabled.
By redefining animal, I believe in the Animal Welfare Act further can be made to clarify a business responsibility to a service animal. This can include providing water, ensuring the animal has space and ensuring the animal is safe while on the business property.
Equality Act is another piece of legislation passed by the last Labour government that fails disabled people with service animals. Granted, Equality Act strengthens and harmonizes previous legislation; however, the legislation does not go far enough. In the United States, for example, Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requires businesses to provide access to service animals and to provide the protection required. However, Equality Act is silent on this important issue.
Whilst, I do not believe those who do not provide access people with service animals should be placed on the animal abuse register. Nonetheless, I do believe legislating access for service animals is vital and I also believe legislating the business responsibility to the service animal is vital. Furthermore, I believe this article demonstrates dogs, in particular, play a vital function in society by helping those with a disability to become fully contributing members of society. Thereby deserving further protection against harm. By amending the Animal Welfare Act and amending the Equality Act I believe, it will improve animal welfare, further protect the disabled, and help bring about the fundamental change in attitude that is vital for animal abuse register.