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ISO proposal for the creation of a new technical committee on “Assistance dogs“

The national standards body of Netherlands (NEN) submits to ISO a proposal for the creation of a new Technical Committee on “Assistance dogs”.

Scope: Standardization in the field of Assistance dogs
Standardization in the field of assistance dogs focused on, but not limited to: terminology, health and welfare, breeding and puppy development, training, client services, assistance dog professionals, conformity assessment, and accessibility.

Excluded are:
• dogs that offer only emotional support and/or comfort (i.e. emotional support dogs);
• dog assisted interventions such as facility dogs or dog assisted therapy;
• other kinds of working dogs such as herding dogs, police dogs, search & rescue dogs.

Assistance dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks to increase independence and to mitigate limitations of a person with a disability.

Background information
An assistance dog is permanently paired with a person with a disability to perform on a one-to-one basis tasks to mitigate the limitations of this person.
Please note that ‘assistance dog’ is the umbrella term. Examples of assistance dogs (in alphabetical order) are autism assistance dogs, developmental disorder assistance dogs, diabetes assistance dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, medical alert/response assistance dogs, mobility assistance dogs, PTSD assistance dogs, seizure assistance dogs.

In some countries, an assistance dog is referred to as a service dog.

Purpose and justification for the proposal
An increasing number of persons are choosing to source and sometimes train their own assistance dog, many times very successfully. There needs to be equity of standards and assessment for these teams so that they too can gain access to public spaces and transportation. Meanwhile, there is a growing number of persons who are presenting their pet dog as an ‘assistance dog’, on occasions simply to gain access to air travel or public spaces.

The behaviour of poorly trained and/or cared for dogs could impact upon the access rights of persons with legitimate assistance dogs. Without clarity of what an assistance dog is, challenging these cases is difficult and is presenting a growing concern to stakeholders.

Considering the overall developments described above, these emphasize the need for independent ISO standards developed by the private and public sector which can jointly determine the definition of assistance dogs, what requirements should be met and how these dogs can easily be recognized across the globe.

In case of national interest, Bulgaria can support the creation of this ISO/TC. If the establishment of ISO/TC is accepted by the national standards bodies – members of ISO, BDS can obtain P- or O-membership in the work of the newly established committee.

The national stakeholders can provide their position on the proposal for this new field of ISO technical activity by 25 of March 2021 to senior expert Ekaterina Slavova, e-mail: Ekaterina.Slavova@bds-bg.org, tel: +359 2 81 74 579.

For more information about the proposal see: here: