Flying with Your dogs in the UK

Last night, Twitter rallied behind a blind lady and her Guide dog who had been left stranded at Gatwick Airport in London, where she was supposed to fly back home to Belfast, Northern Ireland. For are non-UK friends, this is considered an internal/domestic flight and so the Guide Dog did not need a passport. Or so you would think.

On an interview, Joanna Jones gave to the Nolan show, she said they asked to see the dog’s passport and then changed it to her “paperwork”. On their website however, it states the dog’s harness and tag are sufficient enough but have said that they wanted to see an identity card, stating the guide dog was a working guide dog.

Miss Jones, did not have this identity card and has not had one for her guide in the time she has regularly travelled between England and Northern Ireland. The Guide Dogs Association are apparently backing Easy Jet and saying she should have produced an identity card.

I hear you saying, but she didn’t have one, did she? No, and who is responsible for that? Yes, the guide Dogs Association for the Blind, here in the UK who is our biggest training organisation for working Guide Dogs in Great Britain.

My question to all those UK guide dog owners, do you have such a card and when did you receive it? Was it on qualification or should we all run out and ask for one now. Because, I see a potential slippery slide coming up. Soon, all those difficult businesses we encounter, taxi drivers who do not want to take guide dogs, are going to hear this story and start demanding “proof” of our guides being “real” Guide Dogs.

I hate to say this but the association has failed Miss Jones. Easy Jet failed too as they never asked for such identification on her outbound trip to England.

We have checked, a UK Guide Dog Harness, complete with badges and tags cannot be bought on Ebay so how ridiculous is that? The worst thing is, I know when I have spoken to Guide dogs in the past about flying to Ireland to Dublin about Bailey flying, no mention of such identification was had. I was “advised” to maybe get a piece of paper saying he was a Guide Dog but never had a mention of an identification card.

I know one thing for sure, Miss Jones was not at fault as Easy Jet have said publicly. She was misguided by the Guide dog association on travelling with her guide and a victim of a lack of consistency on Easy Jet’s behalf. Right or wrong, they handled this very unprofessionally. Miss Jones must feel very let down by the very association who claim to want to advance blind people’s mobility.

Has anyone had a similar experience to Joanna? And if so, please share it with us. Please let us know if any of you lovely lot are in possession of such an identification card. This could be a district issue.

Marie

I am 29 and feel like I have more blogs than I care to think about. That's where Life without sight has come into it. I finally have grown up and stepped into the hosting world. Lets see how this goes :)

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Hi, this is a classic example of discrimination and I’m glad that it’s being publicised – although that doesn’t really help Joanna. You asked about ID cards. When I qualified with Trudy in 2008 I received a photo ID card which reads “Registered Blind Guide dog owner”. This was issued by Worcester team and I assumed it was a practise adopted by Guide Dogs nationally – obviously not! I just hope that we don’t have to produce ID cards every time we want to access a public service, as I have noticed that more vendors and taxi drivers are refusing to admit me if I have Trudy with me. In my view this constitutes apartheid and it seems that the situation with Guide dogs being allowed access is getting worse rather than better. It’s such a shame as working with a Guide dog actually makes me feel very privileged.

    1. I also hope the attitudes toward Guide Dogs changes soon. It seems there is a definite consensus of lack of support and little consideration for owners and dogs versus the public image of the association. Also, there seems to be a split of who has these photo IDs and who does not. Lets hope we won’t all have to start producing them on a regular basis and having to prove our pups are genuine Guide Dogs.

      marie Howarth marie.jane2005@gmail.com

      1. I just wanted to let you know that on Amazon UK there is a Guide dog harness available although it is nothing like the genuine Guide dog harnesses. I doubt whether a dog wearing this would pass as a genuine Guide dog, but it does beg the question: “What is the purpose of this harness?” I can’t tell whether it’s supposed to be humorous or fraudulent. GDBA take Guide dog harneeses back though once your dog retires or is no longer with you, so I can’t imagine there’s many genuine harnesses lying around for potential misuse. Here is the link to the Amazon product: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Service-Harness-Working-Security-Military/dp/B004P5CM66/ref=sr_1_34?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1324447524&sr=1-34

  2. I have also got a little wallet with a card about the law, an ID card, and other such important numbers. I qualified in 2010 with Ushi.

    I only bring my cards to places i am visiting for the first time but i think i am going to have to start carrying it with me at all times. Xxx.

    1. Is this a new thing then? As, I qualified almost six years ago. I need one of those law cards, must call the office about that. May enquire about a photo ID. Better to be safe than sorry. Hate to say this but think there’s a potential or a fall out over this.

      marie Howarth marie.jane2005@gmail.com

      1. When I trained with my first dog in 1999 I did not receive any ID paraphernalia. But in 2008 as Torie did, I received a wallet containing (among other things) a card about the Environmental Health Act and Guide dogs being allowed on food premises. I also received a separate photo ID card as described above. Although I have never had to produce any ID as yet I have noticed a distinct change in attitudes towards Guide dogs. If someone refuses entry to me and Trudy I tend to walk away rather than fight the issue. When I ring for a taxi I always tell them I have a Guide dog to prevent any arguments with drivers. It concerns me that Guide dogs are supposed to bring freedom yet occasionally they are made to feel like millstones hanging round our necks. I just think it’s wrong that we should have to prove our dogs are genuine Guide dogs in the first place, and it’s people choosing to be awkward. Any rational-thinking person can tell that a Guide dog in-harness is genuine.

  3. this is interesting! do you see people with an ID card verifying that people are cane users? at least our taxi drivers in wangaratta victoria australia wouldn’t refuse a guide dog. I think where i live there are only a few guide dogs. about 1 or 2 at best maybe 3 i’m not sure. our taxi drivers would go out of their way to help people! where in melbourne it is a whole different kettle of fish. but this topic begs another question. I was going to the train station from the children’s hospital as i was going to the dentist there at the time, we were waiting for a taxi out the front and when one pulled up the driver said “i can’t take a short fare. the thought was, bullshit! either you take us or you will hear about it. though my mother told me not to tell the driver and of course not to fight about it or i’d get kicked out of the car. to refuse a short taxi fare i know is illegal but our taxi drivers take short fares all the time and do they refuse passengers and tell them they can’t take short fares? I don’t think so! just because they are indians and packestanies in the city that’s probably why. and for a blind woman to be refused a cab outside the guide dogs training centre? that’s just, well, how can you put that into words without really using words that should be sensored? I’m not going to lose a friendship by using horrible language. no way!

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