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Christmas Present For Special Helpers

Christmas Shopping will be especially enjoyable for Shandy and Barlow, two Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, because now they can legally accompany their hearing impaired owners in public places, National MP Marie Hasler said today.

The two lively canines caused a sensation when they recently appeared at the submission stage of the Dog Control (Hearing Dogs) Amendment Bill, a members bill in the name of National MP Marie Hasler, which gives hearing dogs for the deaf the same right to access public places as guide dogs for the blind.

The Bill will be passed into law before Christmas and Marie Hasler said she was absolutely delighted that hearing dogs will now have the same status as guide dogs.

"There are thousands of hearing impaired people throughout New Zealand and many will qualify for a companion dog. These dogs make a huge difference in the life of a deaf person, giving them confidence and affection, alerting them to the everyday sounds that we take for granted, such as the telephone and the doorbell.

"In the past those dogs could be refused access to public places. The passing of this Bill will change that. Now these special companions will have the legal status they deserve.

"I am extremely appreciative of the enthusiastic cross-party support for this Bill during its progress through the House.

"I think it was a reflection of the concern all MPs have for those New Zealanders whose hearing disabilities often lead to isolation and lack of self confidence," Ms Hasler said.

Ends

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