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Community News

Push to change 'unfair' Assistance Animal Registration Fee

   Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A DEEPDENE family's fight to see assistance dogs made exempt from registration has won support from Boroondara Council which is now spearheading the campaign.

The council recently presented a motion at the Municipal Association of Victoria State Council meeting asking that assistance dogs, like the one that helps the Dehm family, be considered in the same light as guide dogs. the motion received97 per cent support from the councils in attendance.

Doris Dehm has been fighting for registration exemption since the family moved to Boroondara from the US in 2013.

Mrs Dehm's daughter Anna has severe autism and needs assistance dog Dalma, a golden retriever-poodle cross, with her at all times, even at school.

"The way I see it is, it's not about the $60, it's about what is classed as a disability," Mrs Dehm said.

"If you were fighting in a war zone and had both your legs blown off and needed an assistance dog, that wouldn't be covered, yet a guide dog is exempt. What makes one disability different from another?"

Dalma has been with the family since 2013, having been specifically trained in the US as a calming dog which helps with Anna's sleep and anxiety issues.

Boroondara Mayor Jim Parke described current legislation as "unfair" and said that the council was seeking support to have it changed.

The Leader has seen a letter sent from state Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford to Kew state Liberal MP Tim Smith lobbying on the Dehm's behalf, and dated April 29 - before the MAV motion was passed.

In the letter Ms Pulford said while guide dogs were exempt under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, due to their internationally recognised training, individually trained assistance dogs did not fall under the same category.

While not ruling it out, the letter said that until such time as there were nationally consistent standards available to assess assistance dogs, it was unlikely the legislation would change.

Greg Gliddon - Progress Leader

Tuesday, 24 May, 2016