Time to read: Approximately 3 minutes

TravelPaws aims to educate businesses, service providers and members of the public about the ways they can promote accessibility and show respect for Handlers and their Assistance Dogs.

Whether it is domestic or international travel, we want Handlers to have the opportunity to explore the world and TRAVEL WITHOUT BARRIERS. 

Please note that Founder and Director Nina Smith has recently transitioned away from her advocacy role, though remains actively engaged in educating, informing, supporting, and inspiring through TravelPaws.

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The TravelPaws logo adorns an image of 6 multi coloured cartoon people in shirts displaying different types of disabilities alongside each of their Assistance Dogs. The dogs are linked together in balls and chains and they are wearing signs asking for help.

International Travel

When travelling overseas, there exists for Assistance Dogs a maze of rules, regulations and countless paperwork required just for them to do their job.

The process involved includes preliminary research, permit applications & approval. There are also veterinary vaccinations, permit checks, testing, inspections & certification and treatments before during and after overseas visit. Not to mention dog toileting strategies, meeting airline or cruise ship requirements, destination access issues and quarantine isolation.

Numerous Handlers find this process complicated and stressful. Some Handlers indeed choose not to travel with their Assistance Dogs as a result.

TravelPaws supports the streamlining of government processes for Handlers with any Assistance Dog - a guide /seeing eye dog, hearing dog or medical alert/PTSD/mobility/autism assist or other service dog.

While TravelPaws understands the stringent rules in place to manage disease outbreaks transmitted by dogs, there are several areas of process reform that could make a positive difference to our travel.

We hope for a day when veterinary-related travel costs are free, when urgent travel is possible and when our travel obligations are clear and simple.

Imagine a Pet Passport for your dog - valid for life as long as your dog’s vaccinations, blood tests and treatments are up to date. Sound familiar? That’s because it exists in the world - the European Pet Passport.

Domestic Travel

There is variation among and within countries regarding the accreditation, regulation and recognition of Assistance Dogs. This presents a range of issues for Handlers who rely on their dogs to access the community.

Public Access

A group of approximately 50 Handlers stand with their Dog Guides in a curved line. The Handlers are in a park with tall green trees in the background.
Participants of the 2023 Dog Guide Handlers Australia Conference, Nina Smith (TravelPaws Founder & Director) among them. Nina spoke at the Conference about the devastating issue of taxi and rideshare refusals, and what the newly formed Assistance Dogs Advisory Committee for Taxi and Rideshare Services (AACTRS) is doing to address it.
Close up image of TravelPaws Founder & Director, Nina Smith, talking into a microphone. Nina wears a black jacket with the TravelPaws logo, which is a graphic of an Assistance Dog in harness next to a suitcase.
TravelPaws Founder & Director, Nina Smith, speaking about taxi and rideshare refusals of Handlers with Assistance Dogs.

As working dogs who are trained to aid Handlers in their everyday lives, Assistance Dogs have a right to go everywhere their Handler goes, with very few exceptions. Despite having these rights, Handlers are often denied access.

TravelPaws has launched the #WeDoTogether Campaign which aims to educate businesses, service providers and members of the public about the access rights of Assistance Dogs, with the hope of promoting awareness of the law and thereby increasing accessibility.

One area where access refusals are especially prevalent is taxi and rideshare services. Handlers are frequently denied service by taxi and rideshare drivers who refuse to allow Assistance Dogs in their vehicles, despite their obligations under law. This is one of the most significant issues affecting the certainty and confidence of Assistance Dog Handlers.

Businesses and service providers play a key role in ensuring open access for Assistance Dogs. A welcoming attitude can make a huge difference in a Handler's day.

TravelPaws Letters