People with assistance dogs trained by the following organisations are automatically granted public access rights under the Dog Act 1976, including access to any building or place open to or used by the public for any purpose, or travel on public transport.
While many dogs are trained by the organisations listed above, it is also possible for assistance dogs to be trained privately. Public access rights for privately trained assistance dogs may be granted on application to the department. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that there is a need for an assistance dog and that the dog meets the specified training criteria.
To apply for public access rights for a dog not trained by one of the recognized organisations named above, a policy and application form must be completed and submitted to the department. This must be accompanied by a copy of electronic photographs of the applicant and the dog. Following approval, applicants will be provided with an identification card that must be carried on the named person at all times.
Approved applications are valid for two years, or six months for dogs granted a probationary approval. If an approval is close to expiring, it can be renewed if still required.
Once a dog has completed its initial 6-month probationary period, it is eligible to receive a full two-year approval. To be approved, the dog and its handler must pass the Public Access Test (PAT). The PAT indicates the minimum
standard that must be achieved in order to be considered safe and effective in accessing public areas and public passenger vehicles on a daily basis.
Independent PAT assessors are approved by the department. Applicants need to show that they are capable of administering the PAT and ensuring that the dog is capable of being well behaved in public places and on public transport. All PAT assessors are
responsible for their fee structure and organising tests with their clients. Once a PAT has been completed, the original assessment form must be forwarded to the department within seven working days.
After a dog has successfully completed the PAT, the applicant is responsible for submitting an application form seeking to have the dog's approval upgraded to a full two-year approval.
Once a dog has received a full two-year approval, this approval can be renewed each two years. A renewal will require the submission of a renewal form. The dog will also need to recomplete a PAT to demonstrate that the dog is still safe to be taken into public areas.
Before considering an application to the department to have your dog approved as an assistance dog, it is important that you consider whether your dog may already be an assistance dog with public access rights. In addition, not all dogs will be deemed
an assistance dog just because they assist you in some way.
If your dog has been trained or is being trained by one of the prescribed organisations listed below, then it may already be an assistance dog for the purposes of the Dog Act 1976 and will have public access rights. The dog must have been
assessed or is being assessed as competent to be an assistance dog by a person in an official capacity on behalf of these organisations.
If this applies to your situation, then contact the prescribed organisation who trained or assessed your dog, or the person or body who authorised your approval under another law, to discuss your dog's public access rights.
Under the Dog Act 1976, a dog that is approved under a law in another state or territory has public access rights in Western Australia.
If you intend to reside in Western Australia permanently or for an extended period of time, you can apply for a Western Australian Authorisation Card by providing evidence of your current approval. As long as your current approval is still valid, the department can issue a card with the same expiry date as your existing approval.
Not all dogs are an assistance dog even if they assist you in some way. An assistance dog is a dog that is specially trained to assist a person to alleviate or manage the effect of that person's disability or medical condition.
Section 9(2) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 identifies an assistance animal as:
'… an assistance animal is a dog or other animal:
The department provides an accreditation system for assistance animals in Western Australia under the provisions of the Dog Act 1976, with the authorisation card that is issued. The card provides evidence that the dog is "accredited under a law
of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a persons with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability".The Assistance Dog Policy outlines the requirements and process for gaining
such an accreditation.
For more information about applications or assessments please contact the department.
It is not mandatory for a dog to be formally accredited by the department or by one of the organisations listed in the Dog Regulations.
However, under federal anti-discrimination law, the handler of an assistance dog has the onus of proving that:
The advantage of having a dog formally accredited is that the handler will receive an official card which can be shown to people to prove the dog's status and training.
If a dog is not formally accredited, the handler may have difficulty proving that their dog is an assistance animal. This will increase the chances that the dog's entry into public areas will be refused.
The Department is aware that some third party groups have been issuing cards in Western Australia. These groups are not formally affiliated with the WA government or listed in the Dog Regulations. As a result, there is no guarantee that a card issued by those groups will be recognised by the public or qualify the dog as an assistance animal.
Under the department's policies, all PAT assessments need to be carried out by a department-approved assessor.
In order to be approved by the department, an assessor must demonstrate that they have a high level of experience in relation to dog training and the assessment of assistance animals. The department is always looking for additional trainers to help in the accreditation process.
Complete the Independent Public Access Test Assessor Application Form.
Return the completed application form to:
Post:Director GeneralDepartment of Local Government, Sport and Cultural IndustriesPO Box 8349 Perth Business Centre WA 6849
In recent years some individuals have been advertising "therapy dog" services, where a dog is brought to a patient (or vice versa) for the purposes of allowing the patient to pet or spend time with the dog.
Therapy dog services provide clear benefits to patients. Nevertheless, these services do not involve a situation where the dog is accompanying a handler in their day-to-day activities in order to alleviate a disability possesses by the handler. As a result, the Department is not involved in the assessment or accreditation of such dogs.
Do not submit enquiries with this form.