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.
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?