Public access for medi-dog

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Training in public . . . K9 Medical Detection NZ founder and director Pauline Blomfield trains German shepherd Levi (also inset), with Dunedin City Council compliance, animal and parking services team leader Peter Hanlin at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum last week. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A Dunedin medical detection dog has been given a “key to the city”.

German shepherd dog Levi is being trained by K9 Medical Detection New Zealand Charitable Trust founder and director Pauline Blomfield.

Mrs Blomfield said the career path of a puppy training for the trust could go three ways – they could be working to detect cancer, infectious diseases or work as a personal medical alert assistance dog.

K9 Medical Detection NZ dog Levi, of Dunedin. PHOTO: ANDREW MACKAY

The trust has authorisation to train and certify dogs as medical alert assistance dogs to detect epilepsy, narcolepsy, diabetes, allergies causing anaphylaxis, Addisonian crisis and cardiac conditions.

A personal medical alert assistance dog needed to be trained to work in public places, so the trust was required to be listed in the Dog Control Act 1996 to allow its dogs to legally enter public places. Notification the trust had been included in the legislation arrived last month.

The “massive” milestone was the result of six months’ work.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be included in to Government legislation.”

Now trust staff members, volunteers or clients had the right to take a medical alert dog, a detection puppy or dog in training, or a certified dog, to any public place such as a supermarket, movie theatre, restaurant and on public transport.

Dunedin City Council compliance, animal and parking services team leader Peter Hanlin said the inclusion of K9 Medical Detection New Zealand in the Act gave the dogs being trained a “key to the city”.

All bylaws the council imposed to restrict the movement of dogs did not apply to the dogs the trust trained as medical alert assistance dogs, he said.