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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Mayor supports Guide Dogs NI ‘Open Doors’ campaign

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, is supporting the Guide Dogs NI ‘Open Doors’ campaign for the rights of guide dog owners to access businesses and services.   

Recent research has shown 81% of guide dog owners have been turned away from shops, businesses and taxis because they have been told their dog is not welcome.

The law gives assistance dog owners the right to access businesses and services without discrimination. Being refused access can have a significant negative impact on the confidence, independence and wellbeing of people who use assistance dogs.  

Guide Dogs NI is campaigning to raise awareness regardingthe access rights of guide dog owners and to make business owners aware of their legal duties to support assistance dog owners. 

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said:

“I would like to remind all local businesses across the Borough to be mindful of this vitally important campaign and encourage them to ensure all doors are open for everyone in our community.

“The law is clear, and yet guide dog owners continue to experience access refusals which is simply not good enough. I hope this campaign educates people on the rights that guide dog owners have accessing businesses and services.”

The Mayor recently met with guide dog owner Torie Tennant in Cameron's in Ballymena, who said:

"When I've been refused access to businesses in the past, it has been crushing. It's a lower standard of service than anyone else would expect. If it's getting a taxi or going for a meal we shouldn't be denied entry. It makes me feel like a second class citizen and it would make me question whether I want to revisit a business in case I'll be refused.

"I am so thankful to everyone who's got behind this campaign, from businesses to the Mayor. 99% of the time I have felt welcome but all it takes is that one refusal to knock you back so its vital awareness is raised."

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