Identification tags for Disability Assist Dogs

In the aftermath of the Christchurch 2011 earthquake, officials had difficulty identifying the status of dogs at civil defence centers.  If you were the owner of a disability assistance dog, this made things more difficult in what was already a stressful time.

Disability Assist Dog identification tag
In December 2013, the Minister of Civil Defence, the Hon Nikki Kaye, announce the production of a Disability Assist Dog tag that will be officially recognised throughout New Zealand.  The tags will be entered into the National Dog Database and provide unique identification for each dog, linking it to its owner/handler and the organisation that certified the dog.   These tags will be help match lost dogs and owners much faster and ensure that handlers and their dogs are allowed entry to official civil defence centers.

(Dogs are also micro-chipped in New Zealand; this is compulsory)

Seven organisations are authorised under the Dog Control Act 1996 to train and certify disability assist dogs. Only dogs certified through these organisations will qualify to wear the official identification tag:

  • Hearing Dogs for Deaf People NZ
  • Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust
  • New Zealand Epilepsy Assist Dogs Trust
  • Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind
  • Top Dog Companion Trust (not currently operating)
  • Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust
  • Perfect Partners Assistance Dogs Trust

What programs are in place in your country to support owners/handlers and their assistance dogs?


2 responses to “Identification tags for Disability Assist Dogs

  1. Hello,

    I’m not sure if you can answer my question but here goes. I have a disability dog who is certified through an ADI (Assistance Dogs International) school in the United States. I have a brain injury and my dog helps me with many things such as bringing me my medication, carrying medication in his vest, carrying emergency information and retrieving dropped items. I currently reside in the USA but hope to return home to NZ in January. My dog meets all of the NZ requirements for a disability dog. Here’s my question: Do I need to have him certified with a NZ disability dog school for him to have “full access” or is my ADI certification going to be enough? I have a letter from my doctor to verify my condition and obviously he’s already taken the Public Access test. I’m very confused as one of the certified service dog schools in NZ said that I had to pay them $1’500 before he would be considered a disability dog in NZ. They also told me that without NZ certification he would not be accepted for home quarenteen. But Biosecurity says that he just needs to be certified by an Internationally recognized school. I guess I’m having a hard time finding out what the actual NZ laws are concerning Internationally certified dogs … Any help or advice would be very much appreciated.

    Kind regards

    • Hi Gina, I don’t have a direct answer to your question. However, in my post on identification tags for Disability Assistance Dogs in New Zealand (, I list the organisations that are authorised under the Dog Control Act to train and certify disability assistance dogs in New Zealand. I suggest you contact one or more of these organisations who know the subject better than I do to find out procedures and costs. It may also pay you to contact your local MP to see if they can advocate for you to have your dog’s overseas certification accepted. Good luck!

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