One of the biggest issues that arises when living in a strata community is whether pets are permitted and what processes need to be followed in seeking approval for a pet.
Most body corporates will have by-laws relating to the keeping of pets.
However, if an occupier has a disability under the Guide, Hearing & Assistance Dogs Act 2009 and they rely on their animal, there is no requirement to ask permission to have the animal on the premise, these animals are not considered pets.
In accordance with various federal and state legislation, strata by-laws cannot exclude or restrict guide, hearing and assistance dogs
Why People Need Assistance Dogs
You may need a guide, hearing or assistance dog if you have a disability and need support to live more independently and access public places, public passenger vehicles, or rental or holiday accommodation in Queensland.
Most people are familiar with the guide dogs used by a person with vision impairment. However, there are many other ways that dogs can be specifically trained to assist people in their everyday lives, including:
• alerting people with a hearing impairment to specific sounds
• pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up items, or helping with balance for people with mobility impairments
• alerting an oncoming medical episode, for example, diabetic attack or epileptic seizure
• alerting a person with psychiatric illness to move away from a situation that increases symptoms.
Types of Support Dogs
Therapy Dog – works with handler to provide comfort and joy to those in hospital, schools, aged care facilities, courts etc.
Service Dog/Assistance Dog – a service dog is trained to perform tasks to assist handlers with disabilities, ie hearing, eyesight, seizures etc.
Emotional Support Dog – gives comfort and support to handlers with anxiety or emotional related illness.
NOTE: Emotional Support Animals (abbreviated to ESA) are not recognised under Australian law. ESAs are not guaranteed access under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, unlike an assistance dog. An ESA may support a person through depression, anxiety or another medical condition but this does not mean that the animal is specifically trained to do so.
Guide, hearing and assistance dogs
If you have a disability under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 and rely on your animal, you do not need to ask permission before bringing a dog into a body corporate property.
Definition of assistance animal
An assistance animal is legally defined under commonwealth legislation  as a dog or other animal that is:
a. is accredited under a State or Territory law to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effects of disability; or
b. is accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed in the regulations; or
c. is trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability and meets standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.
Penalties for Refusing
The Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 protects these rights and imposes penalties for people and businesses breaching the legislation. For example a person or business separating an approved handler or trainer with a certified dog from other patrons in a cafe may be fined up to $12,190 (100 penalty units) for an individual, and 5 times this amount for a corporation.
In short, a body corporate or induvial occupier will be breaking the law if they refuse access to an assistance dog or separate the animal from their handler or trainer.
How to recognize assistance animals?
To identify a certified dog, look for the round blue and white cloth Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs badge on the dog’s coat or harness (there may also be other dog badges or branding).
Approved handlers, (including those who have an alternative handler helping them to physically control the dog) trainers, and puppy carers, accompanied by a certified dog or dog in training must always carry an approved Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs identity card.
How to Register Assistance Animals?
To become approved both the handler and the guide, hearing or assistance dog must successfully complete the public access test to confirm the dog is safe and effective in a public place, public passenger vehicle or place of accommodation.
To gain certification, you must work with one of the following approved trainers or training institutions to train your dog and complete the public access test and certification process. You may then request the trainer to obtain a handler identity card for you, and a blue and white cloth badge for your guide, hearing or assistance dog to display on its coat or harness.
Free regular registration – Guide dogs and other assistance dogs
The blind, vision or hearing impaired receive free registration for assistance dogs. You must submit an animal registration form and a copy of the:
• guide or hearing handlers identification card
• appropriate handlers identification card.
Can You Train Your Own Dog?
Yes. But, there is no guarantee that a dog you choose will be suitable as a therapy dog, particularly if you would like to undergo the Public Access Test (PAT test) for your dog to accompany you in public places.
Approved trainers and training institutions
Assistance Dogs Australia (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 1800 668 364
Australian Companion and Assistance Dogs (services available Queensland wide)
Phone: 0499 222 330 (0499 ACAD 30)
Canine Helpers for the Disabled Inc (services available in South East Queensland and Townsville (Queensland))
Phone: (07) 5432 4498 or 0437 916 996
Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs of Australia Pty Ltd (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 0458 458 541
Compass Assistance Dogs, Phil Brocklehurst (services available in Sunshine Coast Queensland)
Phone: (07) 5457 3716
Empower Assistance Dogs Ltd, Craig and Tracey Murray (services available Queensland wide)
Phone: (07) 3200 5421 or 0400 741 660
Guide Dogs Queensland (services available Queensland wide)
Phone: 1800 810 122
Integra Service Dogs Australia (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 0412 547 889
In the Paws of Angels Inc., Samantha Gallagher (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 0412 138 151
K9 Tales Pty Ltd, Diane Wegener (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 0478 600 379
Kylie Smith (services available in Sunshine Coast (Queensland))
Phone: 0409 789 549
Lions Hearing Dogs Inc (services available Australia wide)
Phone: (08) 8388 7836
Miracle Assistance Dogs Inc (services available in NSW, ACT and QLD)
Phone: (02) 4934 3051
Positive Response Assistance Dogs (PRAD), Dee Scott (services available in Brisbane and Gold Coast (Queensland))
Phone: (07) 3459 2121 or 0424 058 450
Smart Pups Assistance Dogs for Special Needs Children Inc (services available Australia wide)
Phone: (07) 5485 0031