A disability dog is defined under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 as follows:
disability dog means a dog trained and used, or undergoing training to be used, for the purpose of assisting a person who is wholly or partially disabled
Accreditation by the Board allows a dog, when accompanied by a disabled person, to access areas that a dog would not ordinarily be allowed e.g. public transport, supermarkets, restaurants etc. This right of access to public places is referred to as ‘Public Access Rights”. This includes shops, cinemas, restaurants, busses, trains and libraries.
Disability dogs may not be permitted where the public is not permitted or where there is a public health risk e.g. intensive care units in hospitals, food preparation areas, private residences.
Accreditation of a disability dog under the Act, is not an absolute requirement for a person with a disability to claim public access rights due to the protection that is available under the federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (the DDA). For protection to be provided under the DDA, a disability dog handler must be able to provide evidence that proves the dog ‘is trained to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place’ (Section 9 (2) (c) (ii)).
Handlers of dogs that have been trained by an organisation accredited by Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation can demonstrate that the dog meets the standard required for protection under Section 54A of the DDA.
If the dog has not been trained by an accredited organisation, it may be difficult for the handler to demonstrate that the dog meets the required standard for access to public places. This can be remedied by obtaining accreditation under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 which is recognised under the DDA. This provides protection and public access rights to handlers and dogs that have not been formally trained, or that have been trained by an unaccredited organisation
The Dog and Cat Management Board can only accredit dogs (canine familiaris).
The Board has developed criteria to assess if a disability dog meets the requirements to be granted public access rights. The requirements and application process is set out in the Board's 'Accreditation of Disability Dogs Policy'.
When received, the application will be processed to ensure that it meets the requirements of the Board’s policy. The Board is responsible for approving or rejecting accreditation of disability dogs. The applicant will be advised by Board staff if the application is successful.
Under Section 21A (5) of the Act the Board is required to keep a register of accredited disability dogs (which may be kept in the form of a computer record) that is readily available for public inspection without fee. Only disability dog details will be recorded in the public register. All medical and personal information relating to applicants is confidential and will be handled and kept in accordance with the South Australian Government's Information Privacy Principles.
There is a cost associated with the independent assessment for the public access test, for more information contact the Board on (08) 8214 4807.
If you have been refused entry to a public place with your assistance dog or believe you have experienced disability discrimination, you can contact the following agencies for advice and assistance:
Under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 there is no definition of ‘therapy dogs’ and as a result the Board cannot accredit ‘therapy dogs’ only disability dogs, guide dogs or hearing dogs.
Other States and Territories
The Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992, applies throughout Australia and contains information about access rights with an assistance animal and the definition of an assistance animal under the Federal Act.
You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419 or visit their website at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/
Only Western Australia and Queensland have their own formal accreditation system.
In Queensland, the Department of Communities, Child Safety, and Disability Services can provide information about assistance dog accreditation under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009. They can be contacted on 13 74 68 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Website for more information: http://www.qld.gov.au/disability/out-and-about/certification-public-access-test/
In Western Australia, the Department of Local Government and Communities can provide information about assistance dog accreditation under the Dog Act 1976. They can be contacted on (08) 6551 8700 or email@example.com. Website for more information: http://dlg.wa.gov.au/Content/Community/Dogownership/AssistanceDogs.aspx
Board accredited ‘disability dogs’ (assistance dogs) do not automatically have the right to travel in-cabin on airlines.
Carriage of assistance animals in aircraft is covered under the Civil Aviation Regulation (1988) 256A. Further information is available on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website: https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/air-operators-rules-and-regulations
Airlines have their own specific policies on the requirements an assistance dog must meet to travel in-cabin, and airlines determine whether or not they will accept any assistance dog for in-cabin travel. Unfortunately the Board is unable to assist with getting access for an assistance dog to travel in-cabin on an airline.
You will need to contact airlines directly to find out their specific requirements and if in-cabin travel with your dog is possible. The requirements may vary from airline to airline, so it is important to contact each airline that you plan to travel with.
For more information about travelling with an assistance dog, please see: https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/assistance-dogs-general-information-travellers or contact airlines directly.
The Board accredits ‘disability dogs’ under SA’s Dog and Cat Management Act 1995. Board accreditation provides a dog with access to public places in South Australia. Other states and territories may have their own local legislation covering assistance dogs and the Board’s accreditation may not necessarily be recognised outside of South Australia.
Before travelling interstate, it’s important that you contact the state government of where you’re planning to travel to get advice on the local laws and requirements around assistance dogs.
You may also like to find out about public access rights with an Assistance Animal under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 when travelling outside of SA. You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419 or visit their website at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/
If you plan to travel overseas, it’s important to know that your dog’s accreditation under Australian legislation may not be recognised. You will need to contact the government of each country you plan to visit to find out their local laws and requirements for assistance dogs before you travel.
You will also need to contact the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture to find out about quarantine requirements when travelling overseas and returning to Australia with a dog. For more information visit: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs
If you are moving to South Australia from overseas with an Assistance Dog you will need to contact the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture for information about importing a dog to Australia. For more information visit: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs/assistance-dogs
The Board may only accredit dogs for people who live in South Australia. Therefore you will not be able to apply for the Board’s accreditation until after you have moved to South Australia.
If you wish to receive the Board’s ‘disability dog’ accreditation and carry-card issued under Section 21A of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 , you will need to apply in accordance with the Board’s ‘Accreditation of Disability Dogs’ Policy (even if your dog has been accredited by another agency overseas or interstate).
However, accreditation of a 'disability dog' by the Board, is not an absolute requirement for a person with a disability to claim public access rights due to the protection that is available under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). Therefore, if a dog has been accredited by an overseas or interstate agency, you may already have public access rights with your dog under the Commonwealth DDA. You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission infoline on 1300 656 419 for advice on public access rights and 'assistance animals' under the DDA.