What Concerned Malaysians Need To Know About Guide Dogs

Guide dogs are important especially in assisting the visually impaired. Here's the lowdown on what a guide dog is.

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The Deputy Transport Minister Stated That Guide Dogs May Cause 'Inconvenience' To Visually impaired People

Adbul Aziz also said the guide dogs could prove to be an inconvenience for the blind. “What if the dog pees in a bus or in the train? Who will clean up the mess? I fear the other commuters might get angry with the disabled owner,” he said.

When the successful implementation of guide dogs in other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan was brought up, Abdul Aziz dismissed the cases as not being good comparisons, as the countries mentioned had different ethnic makeups.

The Director Of JAKIM Stated That It Would Be Inappropriate For The Blind To Use A Guide Dog As Malaysia Is A Muslim-Majority Nation

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Director of the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) Datuk Othman Mustapha also pointed out that touching dogs was considered haram under Islamic law, and therefore it would be inappropriate for the blind to use guide dogs in Malaysia, given the country's Muslim majority.

“Muslims may accidentally brush against dogs, and dogs and their fur are unclean under Islamic tenets,” he said. Othman said Muslims were particular about their personal hygiene as it was a fundamental concern in the Islamic religion. “Islamic beliefs and practices cannot be taken lightly according to personal feelings and reasons,” he said.

On 24 May 2014, An Article ABout A Man And His Guide Dog Was Shared Widely Across Social Media

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It appears that a blind person with a guide dog cannot use public transportation. Worse, in an exercise by Malay Mail to test public response to man and guide dog, Stevens Chan and Lashawn Malaysia's first and only guide were chased out of a mall.

The Article Reported That Stevens Chan And His Guide Dog Lashawn Were Escorted Out Of A Mall, Drawing Attention From Many Cautious Malaysians Asking Questions Like, "Is This Allowed Here?"

The man and his guide dog was chased out of the mall.

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People chatted among themselves asking questions like: “Is this allowed here?” “Is that a guide dog leading a blind man?” “What training does the dog get” “Will the dog bite?” while Lashawn and Stevens strolled through the mall’s entrance and headed for the concourse. The stunt quickly drew the attention of the mall security, leading to Lashawn and Stevens quickly being escorted out of the premises.

Outside, Stevens tried to hail a cab ride back home but he was again adamantly refused by several taxi drivers who insisted animals were not allowed in taxis.

Although Uncommon In Malaysia, Guide Dogs Are Legal Assistants In Many Countries. Like 'Eyes' To The Blind, A Guide Dog Helps Visually Impaired People Navigate Through Obstacles

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As training progresses, Guide Dogs learn to travel through confusing and crowded areas, such as shopping centres and busy city streets. In fact, experienced Guide Dogs can lead their users to a list of destinations. As you can imagine, this requires careful teaching so the dog learns each command in a complex sequence of events.

Guide dogs are assistance dogs trained to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles.

Guide Dogs Are Slightly Different Compared To Service Dogs And Hearing Dogs, Which Help People With Disabilities Such As Deafness And Mental Illnesses In Their Daily Lives

Hearing dogs are slightly different from guide dogs as they aid people with difficulty hearing.

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A service dog is a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities including visual difficulties, hearing impairments, mental illness, seizures, diabetes, autism, and more.

A hearing dog is a type of assistance dog specifically selected and trained to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing by alerting their handler to important sounds, such as doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones, or alarm clocks. They may also work outside the home, alerting to such sounds such as sirens, forklifts and a person calling the handler's name.

The Main Breeds That Are Usually Trained To Be Guide Dogs Are are Golden Retrievers And Labradors. Lashawn, Stevens Chan's Dog Is A Labrador.

Labradors are suitable to be guide dogs

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Early on, trainers began to recognize which breeds produced dogs most appropriate for guide work; today, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and German Shepherds are most likely to be chosen by guide dog facilities, although other breeds, such as Standard Poodles, Collies, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Staffordshire Terriers, Vizslas, Dobermans, Rottweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Boxers, and Airedale Terriers, may also be selected.

It Takes Two Years For A Dog To Be Trained To Be A Guide Dog, Going Through A Stringent Curriculum To Ensure That They Can Help On Command

Guide dogs are trained since young, to ensure that they can properly assist the owner

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It takes nearly two years to develop a playful pup into a responsible Guide Dog.

When the pups are about 14 months old, they return to the Guide Dogs Centre.
Over two weeks, our instructors carefully assess every puppy on several long walks. Prospective Guide Dogs must be eager to work, with good concentration and initiative. They must also control the temptation to be distracted by other animals.

Some tasks - for instance, stopping at kerbs and staircases - are taught through repetition. Other tasks, such as safely crossing the road, require intensive training. And it takes a well-trained dog to handle the unexpected, like a car reversing from a driveway.

Guide Dogs Are Matched According To The Height Of The Owner, Ensuring That The Owners Will Not Have Any Difficulty In Communicating With The Dog

Guide dogs are chosen based on the height of the owners, to ensure that communication will not be affected between the two.

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Guide dog breeds are chosen in relation to height at the shoulder measured against harness length and an individual's height.

Besides Visually Assisting The Visually Impaired Owners, Guide Dogs Are Also Known To Give Them Confidence And Companionship, Which Helps Reduce Depression

Having a guide dog also reduces depression and also gives owners companionship

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Guide dogs especially come with a variety of benefits and help in many ways. They give a blind person more confidence, friendship, and security. Blind people who use guide dogs have increased confidence in going about day-to-day life and are comforted by a constant friend.

Companionship offered by a pet helps reduce anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Because dogs offer support, security, and companionship, stress is reduced, which in turn improves cardiovascular health. “A number of studies identify pet ownership as a factor in improved recovery from illness and in improved health in general”.

Guide Dogs Are Not Meant To Be A Touched Or Played With Strangers As This May Distract The Dog From Carrying out Its Job

Strangers are encouraged not to play with the dogs as this may distract the dog from carrying out its duty.

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Chan, 52, who lost his sight to glaucoma seven years ago, said guide dogs should not be patted or fed because they were working dogs.

“You must not touch or feed a guide dog when it’s on duty because the act will only distract it,” he said.

In Many Countries, Different Laws Govern Guide Dogs With Different Guidelines

Despite regulations or rules that deny access to animals in restaurants and other public places, in many countries, guide dogs and other types of assistance dogs are protected by law, and therefore may accompany their handlers most places that are open to the public.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits any business, government agency, or other organization that provides access to the general public from barring guide dogs.

In South Korea, it is illegal to deny access to guide dogs in any areas that are open to the public. Violators are fined for no more than 2 million won.

In Malaysia, The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) Has Stated That Guide Dogs Are Free To Ride On Public Transportation

The SPAD has stated that guide dogs can ride on public transport.

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Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar has said there should not be a problem with allowing guide dogs to assist the disabled in using public transportation, as well as in public places.

“Guide dogs are a necessity for the blind. Therefore, they should not pose a problem,” he said.

KTM Berhad corporate communications manager Siti Badariah Wan Hanafi said although KTM did not allow any type of animal to go on board its trains, it would adhere to SPAD’s guidelines, should the commission allow guide dogs.

In Addition To That, The Perlis Mufti Has Said That Ther Is No Rule Against The Use Of Guide Dogs In Islam

The Perlis mufti has stated that there is no rule against having a guide dog

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There is no rule in Islam which prohibits the use of service dogs to guide the blind, said Perlis mufti Dr Juanda Jaya.

On why blind Muslims in the country do not consider having guide dogs, Juanda said there was confusion on the exact ruling and status of dogs in the religion. "People need to learn to differentiate between religion and culture in order to make decisions in their lives and to not follow blindly what others say about rulings in Islam."

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