Pretoria - The DA has proposed new legislation that would permit guide dogs and service animal owners to access both public and private areas.
The party announced its intention to introduce the Performing Animals Protection Amendment Bill, 2023, in the Government Gazette.
The party said there was an increasing occurrence for people with disabilities who use assistance animals being turned away from public and private spaces as well as from accessing public transport.
“In the Equality Court judgment of SA Guide-Dog Association for the Blind and Amanda Bester vs The Department of Home Affairs and the Western Cape Department of Home Affairs, the court held that the denial of access to the applicant, Amanda Bester and her assistance animal, Reo, to the premises and offices of the department of home affairs, amounted to unfair discrimination,” said the party in a statement.
The DA said there was currently a lack of legislation preventing assistance animals and their owners from being turned away from private and public areas, buildings and transport.
“The DA will therefore be introducing legislation to protect persons with disabilities from being denied entry to public and private areas based only on being accompanied by their licensed assistance animal,” said the DA.
The party added that the licensing system will provide people with tangible proof of their right to enter or access any public or private area, building, facility or transport with their assistance animal.
“Any person who denies a licensee access to these places will commit an offence and be liable to a fine or imprisonment,’’ said the DA.