No clear ruling on guide dogs in malls

THERE are shopping malls that have become receptive to the idea of guide dogs but there are also some that are still not.

However, those that do not allow the dog in, have offered to take care of the dog while the blind owner is escorted around the malls if requested.

CapitaMalls Malaysia Trust, The Mines marketing communications manager Paulin Lim said Stevens Chan came to them and brought awareness that Lashawn was the first guide dog in Malaysia.

“Many are still not aware of the practice so they may not accept the idea,” she said, adding that once it was understood that Lashawn was a trained guide dog for the blind, a sign that read “Guide dogs are allowed” was put up.

“In Singapore, the malls under CapitaLand allow guide dogs to enter the malls as long as it is on a leash and under control,” she said, adding that the dog owner had to register their names at the information counter.

Lim said it was good for Chan to come once in awhile to create the awareness at malls.

He explained that three guards escorted him to explain to the public that Chan was blind and needed a guard dog to help him find his way around.

Lim added that Chan could ask for a guard to escort him the next time he visited.

Sunway Shopping Malls chief operating officer Kevin Tan Gar Peng said as a international standard mall, they welcome everyone without discrimination.

“This applies more for the people in need especially the blind who needs aid and we do not see any reason to deprive them of that aid.

“Although there may be sensitivities around it but we should let common sense prevail,” he said, adding that people had to show more empathy for those with certain requirements.

Tan said the dog was an aid for Chan to move around just like a person in need of a wheelchair.

“It is a guide dog and it is well-trained,” he said.

When asked if the tenants were notified of allowing guide dogs, he said there was no need to do so.

“Tenants know that they cannot be selective with customers,” he said.

The idea of guide dogs in malls is still new as not all shopping malls are open to the idea yet.

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur management in a statement said shopping malls adhere to policies set forth by the government agencies and local authorities.

“At present, there are no clear policies or guidelines on this,” it said.

“Pavilion Kuala Lumpur has procedures for the blind and for guide dogs.

“A concierge personnel will personally escort the blind around the mall while the guide dog is taken care of at the covered basement area of the mall,” it said.

1Utama Shopping Centre advertising and promotions general manager Patrick So said guide dogs were not allowed inside the shopping centre and that the mall’s standard practice was to assign a security personnel to assist the blind.

“Once the shopping is done, they will then be reunited with their guide dogs and if they need help in getting a cab or finding their way home, we will also offer our assistance,” he said.

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