With fake Assistance Dogs accreditations and public access licences on the rise, Assistance Dogs Australia, in partnership with Assistance Dogs International, has developed a digital ID card for their accredited assistance dogs and handlers, to allow for quick and easy identification and verified accreditation.
The digital ID, which can be stored on all mobile devices, includes both photo ID and contact details of the handler as well as their certified assistance dog’s public access licence number, microchip details and accredited training organisation.
Richard Lord, ‘top dog’ at Assistance Dogs Australia and president of Assistance Dogs International, is hopeful the new digital ID will help reduce the number of fraudulent documents that are seeing companion dogs gain public access which threatens to dilute Assistance Dogs’ standing for inclusion in the community.
“Our main goal is to make sure our clients have the documentation they need at their fingertips to ensure their assistance dogs can do their job, which is to help their handlers live their everyday lives,” Lord said.
“Assistance dog fraud is not new, but only in a few jurisdictions is it illegal to purport a dog as a bona fide assistance dog when it is not. As a result of this we have seen an increasing number of fraudulent identification documents circulating over the years and are hopeful that this new digital ID card is one step closer to us putting a stop to that.
“Our assistance dogs undergo routine public access training to maintain their license and it is paramount that those with fraudulent accreditation don’t jeopardise access for those who need it the most.”
In addition to fraud reduction, the new digital ID card is also a welcome tool for its users, many of whom have limited mobility function including renowned Australian musician Tim McCallum.
“The ID card has been an amazing tool for me,” McCallum said.
“To have our license on my device is so much better than carrying a letter or trying to get a card out of my wallet with the limited hand and finger function I have. It’s so easy to display and present when needed.”