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Argentina: Citizens Mobilize for Guide Dog Law

Argentina lacks any law or national policy related to guide dogs. A blind or visually impaired person owning such a dog might face a multitude of difficulties in Argentina and, for many, a national law is needed to gain access to public places without being discriminated for having such an animal.

Forty-year-old Maximiliano Marc [es] is the driving motor for the instigation of a law on guide dogs. The website El Ciudadano Web (The Citizen Web) [es] wrote about the obstacles encountered by Maximiliano when taking a bus in the city of Rosario:

“El chofer no se detuvo en la parada y cuando me estaba subiendo empezó gritarme de una manera desmedida”, recuerda el joven estudiante de Psicología. Con insultos, el colectivero profirió amenazas a Maximiliano para que descendiera del interno 94 de la línea 121 dependiente dela Semtur.“Traté de explicarle que era no vidente, que Bandit era un perro guía y que existe la ordenanza 8.280 (habilita al animal a viajar en el colectivo)”, continúa el relato Marc. Ante la sorpresa, los pasajeros trataron de calmar al colectivero. Cabe destacar que en Santa Fe desde 2009 está regulada la presencia de perros guía en el transporte de pasajeros por el decreto 1.969.

“The driver didn't halt at the bus stop and when i was going inside, and he started yelling at me in a very bad way when I started getting on” remembers the young Psychology student. Insulting him, the driver threatened Maximiliano to force him to step off from bus 94 of line 121 affiliated to the Semtur. “I tried to explain to him that I was sightless and that Bandit was a guide dog and there is also the ordinance 8.280 (which allows the animal to travel in the bus)”, Marc continues. Surprised, the passengers tried to calm the bus driver down. It is to note that in Santa Fe and since 2009, the presence of guide dogs in the transportation of passengers is regulated by the decree 1.969.

Maximiliano launched a petition in favor of a law in Argentina for Guide Dogs so that access to blind and visually impaired people is guaranteed.

Maximiliano Marc and Bandit in the city of Córdoba - photo courtesy of Maximiliano

Maximiliano Marc and Bandit in the city of Córdoba – photo courtesy of Maximiliano

A Facebook group entitled “Logremos la Ley Nacional de Perros Guías en Argentina” (Let us have a national law for guide dogs in Argentina) [es] was created to raise awareness and help launch the campaign at a national level:

Es un grupo abierto en facebook, es para sumarse a nuestros esfuerzos para lograr la Ley Nacional de Perros Guías en la Argentina. Queremos por esta via difundir el tema, para que los legisladores nacionales, aprueben dicha Ley Nacional. Solo existe alguna normativa provincial y ordenanzas municipal al respecto. Asimismo, queremos que en Santa Fe se dicte una ley al respecto, para garantizar este derecho.
Todas las personas ciegas que tengan un Perro Guía tenga este presente DERECHO “Toda persona que esté acompañada de perros guías tiene derecho a acceder, pasear y permanecer con su perro en locales comerciales, organismos oficiales, hoteles, centros turísticos, deportivos, culturales, educativos, como así también en transportes públicos y estaciones terminales.

It is an open Facebook group, to add to our efforts to promulgate the national law on guide dogs in Argentina. Through this group we want to spread the word so that national legislators ratify that law. The only texts regarding that matter are some provincial rules and municipal ordinances. We also want a law in this respect in Santa Fe to ensure that right. That all blind persons who possess a guide dog have that RIGHT. “Any person accompanied by guide dogs, have the right to access, walk and stay with its dog in commercial venues, official organisms, hotels, touristic, sports, educational centers, in addition to public transport and bus and train stations.

Maximiliano's experience isn't unique. Ceci Pont [es], another member of the Facebook group and owner of a guide dog, tells the story of when she wanted to enter a shop in the city of Córdoba with her dog:

Entramos, vamos a buscar un lugar, y la empleada me dice:  “Disculpá, no me dejan que entre gente con perros” O sea, a la chica no le dan permiso de que algunos discapacitados entren al local. ¡No gente!

We go inside and start searching for a place when the employee tells me: “Please, they don't let me allow people with dogs into the shop” which means that the lady wouldn't allow disabled persons to enter the shop. Not people!

Volunteers are meeting at various parts in the country to gather signatures in favor a national law. Anyone can download [es] the documents related to the campaign and to the petition.

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