An assistance animal in NSW is a dog or other companion animal that is either:
Accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of that disability; OR
Accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the Commonwealth; OR
Trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of that disability, and, to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place.
What is a disability?
Disability covers a wide range of physical and psychological conditions and includes:
- total or partial loss of the bodily or mental functions;
- total or partial loss of a part of the body;
- the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness;
- the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness;
- the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body;
- a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently; OR
- a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour.
What proof is required?
Councils are entitled to request reasonable proof that your animal is a genuine assistance animal. This means evidence of the following:
- that you have a disability; (a letter from your doctor);
- that your animal has been trained to alleviate the effect of the disability; (letter from a recognised dog trainer certifying the training) and;
- that your animal is trained to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place. (see the public access test standards. Letter from a recognised dog trainer certifying the dog meets this standard.)
Importantly, a person with a disability has the right to train their own assistance animal so long as he or she can provide proof that that training means the animal meets the definition of an assistance animal.
Registration as an assistance animal under the Companion Animals Act 1998 does not necessarily provide proof the animal is an assistance animal for the purposes of entering a public place or public transport.
What does the owner of an assistance animal need to do?
Like all other companion animals, assistance animals need to be micro-chipped and registered in NSW. However, no fee is charged for registering an assistance animal if the animal is not already registered.
Registration lasts for the life of each animal. If you change address or your animal goes missing or dies, please notify council.
It is also strongly recommended that assistance animals are vaccinated and de sexed. Do not train a restricted or dangerous dog as an assistance animal.
If you and your animal satisfy the necessary requirements please complete the
application for the registration of assistance companion animals form and attached copies of the necessary evidence: doctors letter, statement on how the animal assists with your condition and a statement from a recognised dog trainer (see section on what proof is required above).