Posted by: Luigi | August 7, 2009

Public Access Challenges

My mum has been wanting to join a gym for a while now. She has been looking around to find a gym that would be suitable for her needs.

Today, we finally went to visit the gym she wanted to join. Mum was very nervous about going there. She thinks gyms are pretty scary places but I helped mum feel brave and we walked in. Mum walked up to the counter and explained that she would like to see the facilities as she was thinking of joining up. The very fit young man behind the reception desk replied “Yeha, ok… But dogs are not allowed in the gym”

Mum explained I was an assistance dog. She explained that by law it was ok for me to be there etc…. all the usual explaining mum usually does. She was kicking herself that she left my info cards in the car though.  Still the man kept saying things like “The gym has a no animals allowed policy” “I will have to check with my boss” “I understand, but I still can not let the dog come in.” ect…  In the end, despite all the effort and education mum was trying to provide she just had to say “Ok, if you do not want my business, I will take it else where.”  and we walked out before mum got upset.

Mum went back to her car and cried. I kissed mums tears away. I was so mad at the man for making my mum cry. It is not ok for businesses to not let me in with mum. My mum needs me. I am a vital part of my mums medical care. I am allowed to go anywhere that my mum is allowed to go – with the exception of sterile areas like operating theatres and quarantine areas like the zoo.  This is called the right of public access. It is a right protected by law.

Even though mum is disabled, she still likes to do the same sorts of things as everyone else. I just help to make those things possible. When people violate the law and prevent mum from bringing me with her it means they are discriminating against my mum.  It is very unpleasant to experience discrimination. It makes my mum very sad and even a little bit angry. Sadly, this is not the first, second or even 30th time we have experienced disability discrimination. For the most part mum is use to having to educate people about assistance dogs, often the discrimination stems from ignorance and a little education fixes the problem right up. We go out of our way to educate people. We spend time and money on this website, we print up business cards, mum will spend countless hours talking to people, explaining about assistance dogs and the law, But sometimes, it just gets too much for mum, it starts to take a toll on her heath. I wish I could do the talking for her sometimes.

Even though we won’t go back there it is important that we fix up the issue. It takes time, effort and energy on mum’s behalf. She will now have to lodge a complaint and chase up things with the manager of that gym so that if ever another assistance dog team would like to come into the gym they will be welcomed just like any other customer.

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Responses

  1. Hi Luigi,

    I am saddened at what happened to you and your mum at the gym 😦

    It takes a lot of courage to follow up on this experience to ensure it won’t happen to another assistance team.

    I admire your mum for this courage, and for the many other times she must also do this. As you said, it takes time, effort and energy on her behalf that could be better spent on better things.

    I can only imagine how wearing/disheartening this must get, especially after how nervous she was going in there in the first place!

    Thankyou for setting up this blog and website to let us – that wouldn’t ordinarily know – about what you do with and for your mum.

    I hope you have a better experience in the future with another gym and please tell your mum not to give up! (I know she won’t but it might be nice to hear it).

    Take care,
    Amber

    • Thanks so much for your kind words Amber,
      Its really nice to hear some encouragement when things are tough. Mum has been working on it with a different gym and we should have some good news to update you with soon! *paws crossed anyway!* I am glad you stopped by. The whole point of me having this site is to help get the word out and help educate people to ultimately try to reduce the challenges we face as a team. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment for us too!
      *puppy kisses*
      Luigi

  2. I completely understand this experience. I have the same fear about taking my dog with me to places. So far I have been lucky and been able to educate and get in. But there are still times I have that fear..
    You guys have been an inspiration for me. I have also started educating people about MAD’s and will (hopefully) soon have a website up for us too!

    Thanks for being here!

    • Thanks Harmony! Access challenges can be so scary. They do get less and less when you get your locals trained. We very rarely have a problem in our regular haunts now, its just when we go somewhere new that it can be scary. I am so glad we could help!


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