Ver­bal abuse over hear­ing dog

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

A par­tially deaf Toko­roa man is call­ing for more ac­cep­tance and un­der­stand­ing of peo­ple with dis­abil­ity dogs following on­go­ing abuse from strangers.

A South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil by­law pre­vents dogs from be­ing taken into town but Roger Drower has spe­cial per­mis­sion to do so with Harper, his Cav­a­lier King Charles Spaniel.

Despite hav­ing per­mis­sion it doesn’t stop some peo­ple from hav­ing a go, which he says is of­ten worse for men.

‘‘[I’ve been told] I shouldn’t show that I have a dis­abil­ity be­cause I am a male,’’ he said.

‘‘There needs to be greater un­der­stand­ing that males do have dis­abil­i­ties as well and may need a dis­abil­ity dog.’’

‘‘I find it hard to hear in crowds or with back­ground noise around me. Hear­ing aids just am­plify ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing the back­ground noise, not just the peo­ple talk­ing.’’

‘‘Hav­ing Harper means I have a greater sense of se­cu­rity and I am less re­liant on my wife and young chil­dren.’’

Drower said peo­ple also needed to be aware that dis­abil­ity dogs could be taken wher­ever their own­ers go.

‘‘As help­ing pro­fes­sion­als they have spe­cial priv­i­leges and right of ac­cess un­der the Gov­ern­ment Dog Con­trol Amend­ment Act 2006. They are also pro­tected from dis­crim­i­na­tion un­der the Hu­man right Act 1993,’’ he said.

‘‘There are six or­gan­i­sa­tions in New Zealand that can cer­tify dogs for le­gal pub­lic ac­cess which means the dog can go with the owner into ar­eas where most dogs can’t.’’

He said that in­cluded places that served food, re­tail shops, doc­tors, hos­pi­tals, li­braries, court­houses su­per­mar­kets, and even the movies.

Pub­lic trans­port such as buses, fer­ries, taxis, planes, ships and trains were also not of lim­its.

‘‘Deny­ing us is a se­ri­ous of­fence,’’ Drower said.

Hear­ing Dogs New Zealand gen­eral man­ager Clare Mclaugh­lin said it was un­com­mon but not un­heard of for deaf peo­ple to be abused by strangers.

‘‘Most peo­ple are lovely but some­times we find peo­ple just don’t un­der­stand what a hear­ing dog is,’’ she said.

‘‘Ev­ery­one knows about guide dogs, they have been around for­ever, but hear­ing dogs work with peo­ple with an in­vis­i­ble dis­abil­ity. You don’t nec­es­sar­ily see hear­ing aids so of­ten that per­son can come across a lit­tle bit rude but of­ten it’s just be­cause they haven’t heard you.’’

Drower said if peo­ple have ques­tions all they needed to do was ask.

‘‘Some peo­ple are un­sure about ap­proach­ing us but if you want to ask a ques­tion don’t be afraid to ask,’’ he said. Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil se­nior sci­en­tist Jonathan Cald­well said a fur­ther 108 kilo­grams of PM10 needs to be re­duced over win­ter to bring Toko­roa’s air qual­ity into line.

While re­plac­ing old wood­burn­ers would help, Cald­well said peo­ple’s be­hav­iour also needed to change.

‘‘If we re­move all of the 492 non-com­pli­ant wood­burn­ers, 39 open fires, and 92 multi-fuel burn­ers re­main­ing in Toko­roa and re­place them with 80 per cent com­pli­ant wood­burn­ers and 20 per cent heat pumps.

‘‘I pre­dict we will only move about 85kg of PM10 so we still have about 27 PM10 to re­move,’’ he said.

He said en­sur­ing peo­ple were only burn­ing dry wood which is not treated or painted, clean­ing chim­neys, and check­ing flue heights were suf­fi­cient were es­sen­tial if the tar­get was to be met.

‘‘If you up­grade to a com­pli­ant wood­burner you can get two to three times less PM10 emis­sions as long as you are op­er­at­ing it prop­erly and burn­ing dry wood,’’ he said.

‘‘Also make sure you are not over cram­ming and that you’re us­ing good kindling to get the fire go­ing.

‘‘If you have got a damper, you don’t want to be us­ing that be­cause when you damp down you get smoul­der­ing and high lev­els of PM10 emis­sions.’’

‘‘It is also not ap­pro­pri­ate to be burn­ing rub­bish and gar­den waste in an ur­ban area,’’ he said.

LUKE KIRKEBY/FAIR­FAX NZ

Toko­roa’s Roger Drower with his dis­abil­ity hear­ing dog Harper.

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