Blind woman desperate to work ordered out of Milton Keynes Jobcentre because of guide dog
A blind woman desperate to work was forced to leave the Jobcentre because her guide dog was not allowed in the building.
Elaine Maries walked into the CMK Jobcentre with retriever-cross Inca sporting her official yellow Guide Dogs harness.
They had only walked a few metres into the doorway when a member of staff asked them to leave, said Elaine, who is 48.
"He said no dogs were allowed in the building. I pointed out that Inca was a fully-trained assistance dog and even showed him documentation to prove I am registered blind.
"But it made no difference at all. He actually said: 'That doesn't mean anything to me' and still insisted I left."
Elaine, who is worked all her life and has a string of qualifications, was so shocked that she retreated quietly with Inca.
"Afterwards I was fuming. What this man did was against the law and I knew I had to complain," she said.
A qualified counsellor who is training to be a psychotherapist through the city's Convergence College, Elaine was fully sighted until she contracted the rare Meibonian gland disease three years ago.
She now has no vision in her right eye and severely limited sight in her left.
Until she was paired with Inca almost four months ago she was reliant upon a white stick - but says it made her a target for muggers.
"I was mugged three times in three years. Criminals see a white stick and think you're easy prey. The last time, last August, I was stabbed in the hand by robbers who took my purse.
"With Inca I feel safe and she's given me the confidence to look for a job. I am really keen to work."
Senior staff at the Jobcentre have since apologised to Elaine about Friday's incident and they have promised to help her find employment.
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said; "All people with assistance dogs are welcome in our Jobcentres."
But the Guide Dogs charity is still outraged at the treatment. A spokesman said;
Meanwhile plucky Elaine, who lives on Brooklands estate, has appealed for help in solving another problem - finding a taxi driver willing to take Inca in their cab.
"I've lost count of the times I've booked a cab, then the driver has turned up, taken one look at Inca, and driven off saying dogs are not allowed in his vehicle," she said.