Abstract

Original Article

Acceptance of Assistance Dogs and Changes in Perceived Knowledge of the Act Related to Assistance Dogs for Persons with Disabilities in Japan

Kumiko Matsunaka, Naoko Koda

Abstract 

The Act Related to Assistance Dogs for Persons with Disabilities (here after referred to as The Act) was enacted in Japan in 2003. This Act requires public facilities, public transportation, and private businesses serving the general public to allow access to assistance dogs, including guide dogs, service dogs, and hearing dogs that are accompanying people with physical impairments. In addition, in 2007, it was amended to oblige workplaces to grant access to these dogs. Adults (N=3000; 1500 men, mean age 44.6 years, age range 19 to 69 years) that participated in this study were asked about their knowledge regarding the Act and assistance dogs, their agreement with the requirement for compulsory acceptance of assistance dogs, and their attitudes about sharing public spaces with these dogs. The levels of perceived knowledge of the Act were compared between 2004 and 2011. The results indicated that the level of familiarity with the Act was very low and was declining. Knowledge about the Act and awareness about assistance dogs were positively associated with increased positive feelings about being near assistance dogs. The need for dissemination of information about the Act and about assistance dogs is suggested.

Keywords :assistance dog, knowledge, attitude, disability, the Act

Japanese Journal of Social Welfare, 56(5), 1-9 2016