Woman asked to leave shops with guide dog

Dawn and her guide dog Wallace SUS-140810-125858001
Dawn and her guide dog Wallace SUS-140810-125858001

A visually-impaired woman said she wished she had never moved to Eastbourne after discrimination she’s faced in recent weeks.

Dawn Purcell, 54, moved to Pevensey Road, Eastbourne from Lancashire with her guide dog Wallace three weeks ago.

She said many shop and cafe owners in the town were not aware that guide dogs were allowed onto the premises by law.

“I have been asked to leave cafes, I’ve been asked to leave shops,” said Dawn.

“I can’t believe how you get treated. Nobody wants to help you. I wish I has never moved here , it is just awful.”

She said one experience in a cafe left her in tears.

“I went to a cafe and I had a friend with me,” said Dawn. “We walked in, Wallace went straight under the table. Nobody came over to us.

“I asked if it was self-service, and they said ‘you come to the counter to pay’. My friend said ‘you can obviously see my friend has a visual impairment’. They said ‘yes but you don’t’.”

She said they were so rude to her, she decided to leave. However she said she did experience kindness from one service in the town.

“In the job centre I went in and said I need to change my address. They were absolutely brilliant.”

Dawn thinks the discrimination she has received is down to people not being informed, and she wants to make people aware of the rules when it comes to guide dogs.

“If these people do not know, who is supposed to tell them?” she said. “I consider myself quite young. What about those people who are a bit older? How are they going to feel?

“It is not nice. I feel really strongly about it.”

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association said it is against the law to refuse access to a guide dog as they are a mobility aid and exempt from no dogs policy under the UK Equality Act 2010.

Cases of this nature can be taken to the civil court, with guidance from The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

For more information on the rules surrounding guide dogs, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk