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Civil defence tags for disability assist dogs launched

Hon Nikki Kaye

Minister of Civil Defence

3 December 2013 Media Statement
Civil defence tags for disability assist dogs launched

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today presented the first civil defence identification tags for disability assist dogs.

“This nationwide initiative means that in an emergency, the tags will make it easy for certified disability assist dogs to be identified and remain with their owners or, if they become separated, to be quickly reunited,” Ms Kaye says.

“One of the lessons from the Christchurch earthquakes was that there was uncertainty about the status of dogs at civil defence centres. Now they will be certified disability assist dogs and able to remain with their owners.

“Civil defence emergency situations can be frightening and disorientating. So we want to make sure people have all the resources they need to get through. I can imagine being separated from your disability assist dog would be very stressful in such a situation, so clear identification of these dogs should prevent that from happening.”

Disability assist dogs provide vital assistance with seeing and hearing; autism spectrum disorder; neurological disabilities; psychiatric disabilities; seizure alert; and seizure response.

“Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, so this is a good day to launch the disability assist dog identification tags and raise awareness of disability and accessibility,” Ms Kaye says.

The new civil defence tags will be nationally recognised and entered on the National Dog Database. The tags provide unique identification for each disability assist dog, linking it to its owner/handler and the organisation that certified the dog. The dogs are also micro-chipped.

Seven organisations are authorised under the Dog Control Act 1996 to train and certify disability assist dogs:

• Hearing Dogs for Deaf People New Zealand

• Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust

• New Zealand Epilepsy Assist Dogs Trust

• Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

• Top Dog Companion Trust (not operating at this time)

• Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust

• Perfect Partners Assistance Dogs Trust.

Further details about disability assist dogs in emergencies are at: http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.NSF/wpg_URL/Resource-material-Dog-Control-Index?OpenDocument

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