For the visually impaired, having a guide dog makes it much easier for them to go about their daily lives on their own.
However, it appears there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the animals, as exhibited in a recent Stomp article.
A woman wrote in to the platform to complain about a large guide dog she spotted in the MRT.
The pooch’s owner, Paralympic swimmer Sophie Soon, later took to TikTok to clarify the situation.
She said that guide dogs undergo intensive training and are legally allowed in most public places in Singapore.
On 27 Nov, an anonymous woman wrote to Stomp expressing her fear regarding a guide dog that entered the same MRT cabin as her and her child on 18 Nov.
She was worried that the animal might suddenly attack them, citing its large size. The woman also added that the train staff should have done something about it.
“The MRT is catered to people, not big dogs,” she said.
As it turns out, the dog, Orinda, belongs to Ms Soon, a Paralympic swimmer with a condition that makes her unable to see anything in front of her.
Taking to TikTok on the same day, she took the opportunity to address the situation.
“[Those are] my feet and my dog in this photo,” she stated, referring to the Stomp article. “I’m very grateful that the majority of the comments have come to our defence, thank you for that.”
Ms Soon went on to explain that for the first two years of their lives, guide dogs undergo a series of intensive training.
Part of it involves taking a significant number of tests and socialising. The process is so rigorous that not all dogs make the cut in the end on account of failing certain tests.
After graduation, the canines still require three to four weeks of additional training with their handler. Following that, they will finally be allowed into most public spaces with their owner.
The only two areas they cannot legally enter are restaurant kitchens and surgery rooms, Ms Soon added.
Her clarification has since gained lots of attention on TikTok, with many coming to her defence and showing their support for her.
The Rapid Transit Systems Act states that while animals are not allowed onto railway premises, this rule does not apply to guide dogs accompanying a person with a sight or hearing impairment.
In fact, Orinda is so well-behaved that she was able to take a plane to Australia with Ms Soon, who documented the successful journey on social media.
Hopefully, Ms Soon’s videos will help clear up misunderstandings about guide dogs and bring us one step closer to a more inclusive society.
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