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Blind woman and guide dog thrown out of a hotel due to allegations that her assistance dog was "fake"

View profile for Abigail Martland
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Blind woman and guide dog thrown out of a hotel due to allegations that her assistance dog was "fake"

It has been reported that, during a stay at a London hotel, a resident was disturbed in the middle of the evening by hotel staff and security, due to their assertions that their guide dog was ‘fake’.

During the incident, it is understood that hotel staff had stopped the resident’s partner, to request proof that the dog was in fact a guide dog. Despite assurances being provided, it is reported that the hotel staff continuously demanded evidence of guide dog status, stating that he “looked like a fake guide dog” and thereafter, told the resident and her partner to “leave the hotel” as “if you had a guide dog, you would know to bring documentation”.  

It is understood to be alleged that hotel staff used a ‘master key’ to open the hotel room door, and insisted that the resident leave the vicinity, despite having been shown a yellow ID booklet and the guide dog’s harness, which stipulated that the assistance dog is ADUK trained.

It is understood that the incident, which was recorded by the resident has now been circulated online due to concerns that the hotel staff had acted unlawfully.

The hotel chain have now responded to allegations made by the resident online, stating they “take the needs and equal treatment of all our guests extremely seriously and all team members receive disability awareness training to make sure all guests get the same warm welcome and enjoy a great stay”.

It is understood that they further commented that they were “shocked and appalled” to see the allegations made online, insisting that an “urgent investigation” had been underway into the incidents reported as they have a “zero-tolerance approach towards discrimination”.

A spokesperson for Guide Dogs said: "Guide dog owners deserve to be able to live their lives the way they want and feel confident, independent, and supported in the world."

She added: "The law needs to be stronger, so we're calling on the government to end access refusals and ensure that, unless there is a valid legal reason, that guide dog owners are welcome with open doors when they use businesses, shops and taxis."

The law

The Equality Act 2010 requires that disabled people have the equal access to services such as accommodation, restaurants, pubs and cafes. A disabled person should not be put at a disadvantage due to their need for an assistance dog. For example, a disabled person should not be asked to sit in a specific area to keep the dog out of the way.

Both ADUK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have extensive online guidance for businesses and service providers to access. Most importantly, whilst assistance dogs will usually have formal identification on them in the form of:

  • ID tags on the dog’s collar
  • a harness
  • an organisation-specific branded dog jacket or harness
  • a lead slip,

it is not a legal requirement for assistance dogs to wear any identification, nor possess an ID book. As such, it is unlawful for an assistance dog to be refused access if their owners do not have the relevant identification available.

How Stephensons can help

Our discrimination law team will be working in the upcoming months to produce important content for individuals and businesses, to help understand their rights and obligations in regard to assistance dogs.

If you believe that you have been subject to discrimination in relation to an assistance dog, we have a number of specialists who could assist you with pursuing a claim for damages and injunctive relief.

Alternatively, if you are a business or service provider, and would like to understand your obligations in respect of assistance dogs, we can provide you with support and training to ensure that you act inclusively, and avoid potential litigation being brought against you.

Contact our specialist discrimination team on 0161 696 6170 today.