Jelly Bean is a Disability Aid Dog
IT seems normal to Mary Martin to be able to take her dog Jelly Bean with her into shops and on public transport but it was a long road to get there, she said this week.
Ms Martin has a mobility disability but went through months of rigorous training with Disability Aid Dogs so that her best friend, an eight-year-old Pomeranian Maltese terrier, could be at her side making sure she was safe 24 hours a day.
Late last month she received the paperwork that proved Jelly Bean was a trained dog and she a disabled handler under the Federal Disability Discrimination Act.
And that means the world to Ms Martin, who said she needed Jelly Bean to assist her every day.
But that’s not enough for the disability campaigner, who wanted more people to know they could get their pets accredited.
“It is the saddest thing when you see dogs in shelters that used to belong to older persons, who can’t take them into homes.
“I had to jump a lot of hurdles. But it’s normal to me to be able to keep your dog. In Europe there is no question.”
The reaction so far to Jelly Bean entering shops at Ms Martin’s side had been “brilliant” and the only time people reacted negatively was when they didn’t realise Jelly Bean was accredited, Ms Martin said.
She said the accreditation meant people who needed the help of their dogs could move into social housing and keep their companions.
“I think it’s crazy. You should be able to keep your dog and you can get certification now.
“If I was separated (from Jelly Bean) can you imagine the stress of me giving him away? It would aggravate my condition.”
Initially, Ms Martin wanted to take Jelly Bean on the train but when she asked for permission she was passed on to a number of different departments and couldn’t get a straight answer.
“When I inquired I was thrown back and forth like a hot potato.”
Things started moving after she wrote to former PM Kevin Rudd’s wife Therese Rein.
“I don’t know what got the ball rolling but maybe it was the letter.”