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Guide dogs at work

How accepting is Singapore towards being a guide dog friendly nation?

Vinny Chiam


Published: 8 January 2016, 8:00 AM

While there are only seven guide dog users in Singapore, the number of guide dog friendly establishments has risen to more than 70 since 2013.

This is an increase of around 50 per cent, as compared to three years ago.

What’s going on?

The Guide Dogs Association of the Blind (GDAB), an association that focuses on helping the blind or visually impaired improve their quality of life, is planning to increase public acceptance of guide dogs through its inaugural year-long “Guide Dog Friendly Nation” campaign.

GUIDE DOGS HELP THEIR OWNERS AVOID OBSTACLES AND WILL ONLY BARK WHEN THEIR OWNERS ARE IN DANGER.
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA

Guide dogs are professionally and highly trained service animals that do not bite or bark. They serve as their owners’ eyes.

As part of the campaign, GDAB will be sharing more information about the visually impaired to educate the public, and working on getting more retailers to join the cause.

EIGHTEEN CHEFS’ GUIDE DOG FRIENDLY BUSINESS SIGN AT THE ENTRANCE.
For example, Benny Soh, founder of halal restaurant chain Eighteen Chefs, has received permission from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) to put up guide dog friendly signs. Other guide dog friendly businesses in Singapore include Ikea, Cold Storage, and Cheers.

Though these numbers have risen, some guide dogs owner still face difficulties getting into retail stores. In April last year, former client services manager Cassandra Chiu was denied access into retail store Zara. She also got into an argument with the security guard because of her guide dog.

While some are concerned that guide dogs can cause possible discomfort and hygiene issues, others feel that allowing access for users with guide dogs is a basic human right for the visually impaired. After all, for these owners, guide dogs are akin to mobility aids like wheelchairs and crutches.

CASSANDRA CHIU HAS ALSO BEEN REFUSED BY CAB DRIVERS BECAUSE OF HER GUIDE DOG ESME.
PHOTO CREDIT: YAHOO NEWS

Singapore Polytechnic (SP) student Charissa Lee believes that allowing guide dogs into establishments should be a basic human right for the visually impaired.

The 20-year-old media student said: “The visually impaired need the guide dogs to move from place to place and there is no harm done, since they are professionally trained anyway. Also, to avoid any discomfort, [probably] restaurants can [consider having] allocated spaces for guide dogs only.”

However, not everybody supports the issue of guide dogs being a basic right.

Megan Lim, 19, feels that guide dogs being allowed access into establishments should be monitored more closely.

The third year media student from SP said: “No matter what, they are still animals and you can’t control them. Also, we have to consider those who may be fearful of dogs or those with religions that forbid them to touch dogs. I think it would be fine if it’s monitored.”

What’s your take?
  1. Are you comfortable with having guide dogs in a restaurant you are dining in, or in a shopping mall?
  2. Do you support the idea of having more guide dogs friendly establishments? Why?
  3. What else can be done to make Singapore a more guide dog friendly nation?

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