So I’ve been blind 5 1/2 years & in that time I have met & interacted with some truly remarkable people. Made friends with people I probably would have never even know existed. The flip side of this is I have a also met some people I rather not have met, namely those that refuse me access or a service. I thought I’d mention the 3 that come to mind & effected me most. Now I partnered up with Quasia not only for my safety but that of my daughters. I want a normality of life back that went with my sight. I wanted to be able to do the normal things, like taking & fetching them from school, taking them shopping for presents & most importantly for days out.
So we’d been given the talk about the DDA 1995 and refusal of assistance dogs. I’d read about refusals on Twitter and online & alwas thought it never happen to me I’m too strong willed to take no for a answer . I know my rights and the law & being a grown man know how to fight my corner. I always offered help and advice to others who had been refused service.
So the first time I got refused service was on a cold wet night early December 2012. I was absolutely gob smacked when I was told I couldn’t get in because Quasia was wet. I argued that I had told them when I’d booked the taxi that I had a guide dog with me & I’d wait for a suitable car. He drove off and I called the taxi company back. All of a sudden they’d lost my booking, I ended walking almost 5 miles home with us both soaking wet. I got in & felt that I had let Quasia down, I hadn’t fought hard enough for her. I did complain but without witnesses or evidence it came to nothing.
For my youngest daughters 4th birthday we went to Stratford upon Avon Butterfly Farm. We walked in & was told straight away that there were no dogs. I asked to speak to manager has I pointed out it was unlawful to refuse entry. Manager wouldn’t come & talk. I ended up standing outside while my family went around. People were coming up to talk to us & in no uncertain terms I let them know what they had done to us. Quite a few people walked away with the words if there is no guide dogs I not giving them money either. So then come the hard part, explaining to a 4 year old why her dad had been treated has a second class citizen. I explained that there was a law & she said phone the police. I then had to explain not all laws were enforced by the police. My daughter was really upset that I’d not been part of her birthday, I put her to bed that night and then sat down & cried, this time I’d not only let Quasia down but also my daughter.
The first big place I’d ever taken Quasia was my local Zoo. www.dudleyzoo.org.uk I phoned ahead of our visit to find out if it would be ok. The lady said she get the head keeper to give me a call back. Later that day I had a call, it was a real breath of fresh air. Not a problem bringing Quasia, just a few places that she’d not be able to go where the animals were running free, but if I wanted to go in they get a keeper to look after Quasia whilst I was led around. We went & all loved it Quasia probably the most. The Tigers were really interested in her, we had a photographer follow us around snapping the animals reaction to Quasia. In fact we loved it so much we had a annual pass & went a awful lot of times, money very well spent.
So the last refusal that is a painful memory. My sister sponsored a snow leopard cub for my oldest daughters birthday at Tywcross Zoo. In the pack was a free entry for my daughter, so we all went and took 1 of their cousins with us. We entered & were pointed to customer services were I was give a line drawing of the zoo with almost all of it off limits to Quasia. I argued to no avail. Again it ended up Quasia & myself outside with my family inside. So my family rushed around the zoo & we left, with my daughters birthday ruined by a service refusal.
So to the point of the post is this, if you run/own a company & you refuse an assistance dog service, it’s not only the dog you are refusing it can be a whole family. You could be leaving a bad memory in a child thought not a great one. You might not be lighting the way but you might find that it really impacts your business in a very negative way. Assistance dogs usually get a very positive reaction where ever we go & the companies who embrace us get the same. I tell everyone how wonderful and caring the staff are at Dudley Zoo & how guide dog friendly they are.
Guide Dogs are a life changing dogsto anyone lucky enough to be partnered, don’t be the person to change it back.
For those with sight some pictures around Dudley Zoo, please visit