Tasmania could soon face a shortage of guide dogs due to problems in having new pups imported into the state.
Guide Dogs Tasmania dog services manager Kim Ryan said travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic had meant the organisation had been unable to fly pups into the state since April.
She said present travel risks, including flight delays and unaccompanied travel, had implications for the safety of the pups and could impact their eventual success as a guide dog.
In other news:
Ms Ryan said there were limited direct flights between the selected breeders in South Australia and Hobart and those flights would not take live freight.
She said the state’s guide dog program relied on the importation of up to 16 pups into the state each year.
Ms Ryan said the halt to pup importation meant the program would be delayed for up to 12 months as it was unlikely to produce new working guide dogs this year.
Recognising the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII:
She said neither of Guide Dogs Tasmania’s two trainers had been able to get essential worker status for quarantine exemptions to fly with the dogs.
Labor’s Alison Standen said the government should work with freight handlers to ensure guide dogs could be transported to the state within the day.
If this was not possible, she said the dog handlers and the dogs themselves should be recognised as essential workers.
“They provide an important essential health service for people with vision impairment in the state,” Ms Standen said.
A State Control Centre spokesperson said it would continue to work with Guide Dogs Tasmania to find a workable solution.
“There were preliminary discussions with the organisation, but if they are still experiencing some difficulties in getting the dogs into the state, we will liaise with them to enable the issue to be resolved,” they said.
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: