Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP, Liz Saville Roberts, has given her backing to a campaign which highlights the persisting barriers facing people living with sight loss and their guide dogs.
At a parliamentary event hosted by the charity Guide Dogs, Mrs Saville Roberts met guide dog owners including Jane McCann, formally of Dolgellau, to hear about their experiences of being illegally turned away from cafes, shops and other venues because they had their guide dog with them.
Research by Guide Dogs found that 81 per cent of guide dog owners have been refused access to a restaurant, shop, or taxi at some point because they were with their dog. Of these, 73 per cent said they experienced an access refusal at least once in the past 12 months.
Mrs Saville Roberts is raising awareness of the rights assistance dog owners have, and the need for better enforcement and clearer laws.
The MP said: "Guide dogs play a pivotal role in the lives of their owners, by enabling them to live independently and to live the life they choose. That’s why facing access refusals can be devastating, leaving people feeling unsafe and vulnerable.
"All guide dog owners in my Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency deserve to access services and businesses without fear of refusal. All too often we hear of guide dog owners being challenged or unlawfully refused access to cafes and shops.
"I was pleased to meet Jane McCann to raise awareness of the perennial barriers facing guide dogs and their owners and I was disappointed to hear how common these incidents of discrimination are for assistance dog owners.
"No one should be turned away from any service because of their assistance dog. That is why I want to see the law strengthened on access rights for assistance dogs, to prevent access refusals and to open doors for guide dogs."