The Argentine Senate passed the bill that allows blind people that use guide dogs to access any means of transport, businesses, cinemas, restaurants, health centers or public administration offices.
There still wasn’t a national law which allowed “the right to access” of any person with a partial or total disability that use a guide dog at public places. A guide dog is a trained animal meant to accompany and conduct people that suffer from blindness. The bill also states that the same thing must happen with the rest of the citizens.
“We are very happy about the news, but for us it is only a start point, what is left now is for people to be aware of this, know this and follow this bill,” says María del Carmen Gómez, technician on oral narrative and proud mother of “Keegan”, a dog specially trained in the United States.
“I’ve had a guide dog for eleven years and there are still people that ask me how they let me get in the bus,” added Gómez, who has been an activist for this bill for years.
The news of the new law was received with happiness by associations related to the blind, such as FAICA and people that use guide dogs who happened to be outside the National Congress.
“We have the right to move with our dogs, they are our eyes”, stated Maximiliano Marc, who along with his dog “Bandit” had been participating of a strong campaign for this bill to be passed. “What happened till now was that we ended up being hostages of our own territory, because we depended on people’s good will.”
“For instance, I went on vacation to Córdoba and ended up returning before I expected to because it was a complete chaos: they wouldn’t let me stay at the hotel, we had issues at every bar and every bus and I didn’t feel like losing time arguing anymore anytime I wanted to do something.”
There are few schools for guide dogs in the world, and there is only one in Argentina. Leader Dogs for the Bind, from Rochester, USA, is where 22 Argentinians got there dogs from.
“This new law is a great joy. Now there is a lot left to do because this has to happen in every province,” says Ana María Bravo, coordinator of Leader Dog in Argentina and proud owner of Mia. This law, proposed by Mariana Juri, Ivana Bianchi and Silvia Majdalani, also establishes penalties for those “who in some way don’t let this law to be applied fully.”