In the UK Disabled people have important rights under the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). It is unlawful for public services, service providers, and local authorities to treat disabled people less favourably, e.g. refusing services or offering less services because a disabled person has an assistance dog.

Read the ADUK Quick Guide to Welcoming Customers with Assistance Dogs.

The law states that anyone offering a service, be that private business or public service must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people so that they can access their venues, goods and services. Except in the most exceptional circumstance e.g. a surgical or disease control hospital ward, this would mean allowing access to a disabled person and their assistance dog, even if you do not normally accept pet dogs. 

Assistance dogs are recognised by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, who state that assistance dogs should be allowed access to restaurants, food retailers and other premises where food is available.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have declared that the very specific training and health tests that assistance dogs trained by ADUK members go through, means they are unlikely to be a risk to hygiene in these premises.

There is no conflict with food hygiene laws in allowing access for assistance dogs. This may not be the case in areas where food is prepared.

Disabled people with assistance dogs should not have their access resisted by being expected to sit in pet-friendly areas or outside seating areas. By restricting the choice of the disabled person, you would be offering a less favourable services.

Disabled people should not bear the cost of any additional cleaning.

Where a clear allergy risk to a specific individual is identified, steps should be taken to reduce this risk, but a refusal of access for assistance dogs based on the possibility that other people ‘may’ be allergic is unlikely to be classed as a justifiable response.

Refusing access to an assistance dog user due to fear of dogs amongst staff or customers is unlikely to be considered a justifiable response.

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