uK laws

UK laws

What is the Current UK Law Regarding Psychiatric Assistance Dogs?

Assistance dogs, including psychiatric assistance dogs, are protected by the Equality Act 2010 and have legal rights. Psychiatric assistance dogs are specifically trained to help individuals with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, by mitigating their symptoms. These dogs do not only provide emotional support, but they also do specific work for the benefit of these individuals.

Assistance dogs are not classified as pets; they are considered auxiliary aids. They undergo extensive training and perform various tasks to help their handlers/users feel more comfortable in social situations. Common responsibilities of psychiatric assistance dogs include providing companionship, alerting their handlers /users to oncoming episodes, and diverting their attention from unwanted thoughts or behaviors.

It is illegal to discriminate against a disabled individual, including their aids such as an assistance dog.

Assistance dogs in the UK are typically trained by members of Assistance Dogs UK, although some canines may be trained by individuals. These dogs are trained to remain calm and well-behaved in public places while also assisting their users/handlers with various tasks, such as safely crossing roads or alerting them to epileptic episodes.

What Do Tenants Need to Know About Psychiatric Assistance Dogs?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has created a valuable resource that outlines the rights of individuals regarding accessible housing.

According to the Equality Act 2010, it is illegal for service providers, including landlords, rental agencies, and housing associations, to discriminate against disabled people or those who rely on assistance dogs or guide dogs by treating them less favorably.

Landlords, rental agencies, and other housing providers are obligated to make reasonable adjustments for disabled individuals who use assistance dogs.

In order to avoid disadvantaging tenants with disabilities, landlords may need to modify their policies or practices, including changes to tenancy agreements. For instance, a policy that prohibits pets should be adjusted to accommodate disabled individuals with assistance dogs.

It is not permissible for landlords to increase rent or impose additional cleaning fees solely because a tenant has an assistance dog or guide dog, even if a contract includes charges for pets. In this context, an assistance dog should not be treated as a pet. However, charges can be applied for actual damage caused by the dog.

If you encounter a landlord who refuses to comply with your requests to have a psychiatric assistance dog in a rented property, it is essential to understand your rights. Begin by discussing the matter directly with your landlord to explore the possibility of policy modifications. If necessary, seek assistance from a local disability rights group or legal aid office to gain a better understanding of your rights and determine the most appropriate course of action.

Can You Fly With A Psychiatric Assistance Dog?

In general, visually impaired passengers who have guide dogs have no issues when entering the UK. This is because guide dogs are already legally recognized under the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, which prohibits refusal of entry to the UK solely based on the presence of an assistance dog.

According to this law, assistance dogs encompass guide dogs for individuals with visual impairments, hearing dogs for individuals with hearing impairments, and seizure-alert dogs.

However, there are no unified regulations on whether psychiatric assistance dogs receive the same treatment as guide dogs when visiting the UK or not. Legal professionals have yet to establish clear guidelines on the use of such animals by individuals with mental health conditions. The lack of consensus between different countries has made it challenging for travelers to understand the procedures for flying with their assistance animals Currently, there is no definitive answer, and airlines retain the right to refuse psychiatric assistance animals access to the passenger cabin.

At this point, it remains uncertain whether service animals like psychiatric assistance dogs will be permitted on UK flights or not, even if they have been already accepted by other countries.

If you are a traveler with a mental health condition who requires the assistance of a psychiatric service dog, you should directly contact the airline you are planning to use. Additionally, airports may have specific rules and regulations in place, so you should ensure that you are well-informed about their policies before proceeding with your trip. Seeking guidance from relevant organizations such as airport authorities or local tourist offices can also be beneficial in ensuring a smooth and problem-free travel experience.

Psychiatric Assistance Dog Training

Many people choose to train their own assistance dog. Some individuals prefer to work with their dogs on a one-to-one basis, while others may simply not be able to afford expensive professional assistance dog training programs. 

The assisted training we offer will enable you to train your own psychiatric service dog. This type of dog takes about 120 hours to train and does not require as many hours as a guide dog or a hearing dog. The psychiatric service dog is trained to respond to the mental disability of a person in a uniquely suited way.

The service dogs we help train are shaped by their bond with their owner/handler. PSDs are trained to assist with opening and closing tasks, keep their users focused, provide emotional support, keep you alert, bring medication to you, ground you and interrupt repetitive behaviour.

Your paw partner can be a pillar for your mental health and help improve your social life.

Psychiatric Assistance Dog and School

Under the Equality Act 2010, disabled individuals who use assistance dogs are entitled to certain rights. The law protects people with disabilities so that they can enjoy the same privileges as everyone else when using services such as shops, banks, hotels, libraries, pubs, taxis, and restaurants.

Service providers, including schools, are required to make reasonable adjustments to their policies to accommodate disabled individuals who use assistance dogs. This will allow them to access their services and premises.

Some assistance dog owners may wish to accompany their children onto the school premises while being supported by their assistance animal. It is recommended that individuals who use a psychiatric assistance dog engage in a conversation with the school in question before bringing the dog onto the premises.

If a school has concerns about the behavior of an assistance dog or perceives a potential risk to the safety of the children, it is appropriate for them to discuss with the owner of the assistance dog any measures that can be taken to mitigate such risks.

Psychiatric Assistance Dogs and Alllergies

The Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (in Northern Ireland) ensure that disabled individuals have the same rights to access services as non-disabled individuals. These acts require reasonable adjustments to be made to facilitate access for individuals with disabilities.

Occasionally, an allergy to dogs is given as a reason for denying assistance dogs access to these services. While allergies in general are increasing worldwide and are an issue that should not be taken lightly, the prevalence of allergies specifically to dogs may be lower than commonly believed.

If an establishment can objectively identify a clear allergy risk due to the presence of an assistance dog on the premises, appropriate steps should be taken to minimize the risk. For instance, accommodating the assistance dog team in a separate area or assigning non-allergic staff to serve the individual who uses an assistance dog.

It is unreasonable and excessive to refuse entry to assistance dogs based on the possibility that other people might be allergic to them.

For more information about allergens and allergies to dogs, please refer to the link below.