Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Charity
Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Foundation (PADs) opened its online application and user platform to applicants in May of this year (2023), allowing them to begin the journey to having a dog registered as a trained assistance dog. Assistance dogs for psychological conditions have grown in popularity in recent years, but support, availability and understanding of them are still in short supply, all of which inspired the creation of PADs.
“Thousands of people in the UK rely on an assistance dog to help them with day to day activities that many people take for granted. Assistance dogs carry out a variety of tasks for people as well as supporting their independence and confidence” – Equality and Human Rights Commission
On 19 June 2020 PADs Foundation won a landmark claim (Seward vs Matadar) at Manchester County Court, where it was ruled that an assistance dog owner had been unfairly discriminated against for their disability and denied access to a service because of their assistance dog.
The individual suffers from both Post Traumatic Stress and Bipolar Disorder and so enlists the help of their assistance dog who accompanies them at all times when away from home. In 2018 the two were turned away from a news and souvenirs shop in Manchester even after attempts at explaining the law and their assistance dog clearly using a Charity issued Assistance Dog harness.
As an assistance dog that is fully-trained in Public Access and Mitigating behaviours both the dog and handler should legally have been allowed to enter the store premises under the Equality Act 2010 but were denied access for not showing a visible disability.
More than 7,000 people in the UK rely on the help of assistance dogs with many owners likely having faced the same issues. It is the PADs Foundation’s hope that with this ruling not only will it help businesses and members of the public understand the law better, but also empower those who have faced discrimination for their disability to step forward.
“We hope this case will raise awareness of the legal rights of assistance dog owners and highlights the fact that not all disabilities are visible and not all assistance dogs are affiliated with larger organisations.” Zoe Norquoy (PADs Co-Founder)
About the PADs Foundation
The PADs foundation was set up to improve the quality of life and independence of those with psychological conditions through utilisation of assistance dogs. As well as allowing owners to regain independence, assistance dogs alleviate pressure on the NHS by reducing the need for carers.
Psychological assistance dogs in other countries have been used by people with a wide variety of diagnoses, including: Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, and Schizophrenia.
The purpose of the Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Foundation is to relieve those in need as a result of having a psychiatric disability by:
- Education or training persons with a psychiatric disability in the proper and safe use of their psychiatric assistance dog
- Raising public awareness of psychiatric disabilities and the benefits of assistance dogs to persons with such a disability;
- Otherwise supporting persons with a psychiatry disability in particular with their ownership and use of an assistance dog with a view to promoting their independence in society.
The PADs Foundation website contains more information about assistance dog owners’ rights as well as information about registering dogs and training them.
Registered Charity Number: 1173512