Facts and figures :
Paul Corteville trained the first guide dog in France in 1952 for a blind friend. Paul Corteville was also responsible for the creation of the first School in France near Lille whilst another School was created near Nice, in the South of France, by Joseph Micoud.
The two men initiated the French Federation of Guide Dog Associations (F.F.A.C.), created in 1972. It was state-approved as a registered charity of public interest in 1981.
It now gathers all over France :
- 10 Guide Dog Schools for the Blind,
- a Breeding and Selection Centre (CESECAH), created to provide the Schools with adequate puppies,
- the French Association of Guide Dog Users (ANMCGA).
Mission and objectives :
- promote the Guide Dog on a national basis,
- co-ordinate and help the Schools in their work, subscribing to a federal Code of Practise,
- provide Guide Dog Instructors with a vocational training, state-certified since April 2002,
- obtain a legal status for guide dogs from national authorities,
- ensure guide dogs access rights,
- the Federation also has an important harmonisation and information role.
All Member Schools provide guide dogs for free to the visually impaired persons able to use them. They exclusively live on donations and legacies.
The French Federation and Member Schools are all members of the International Guide Dog Federation. We are also involved in the action of the European Blind Union.
- There are currently 1,500 units at work in France.
- 4,500 guide dogs were given since 1967.
- 180 guide dogs are offered each year
- 100 puppies are provided by our Breedind Centre
- 70 instructors are employed.
French legislation for Guide Dog Schools
The French Federation managed to have the first access rights to public places for visually impaired persons with guide dogs voted from 1982 onwards.
A huge step forward was achieved in 2002 when the FFAC GDI diploma became state-certified: the state authorities could hardly recognise the curriculum whilst denying guide dogs any legitimacy.
As an election campaign promise by President Chirac, a new law on disabled persons' rights came to life in 2005. The French Federation and the Users' Association were consulted throughout its realisation to define national standards for a guide dog school to have an official label so as to allow the blind persons who receive their guide dog from such a school to have a monthly grant for the care of the dog. (However the schools that will not get the label will not be prevented from producing guide dogs.)
Here are the main criteria for a Guide Dog School to have the official label:
Existence of an agreement entrusting the dog to each recipient of the grant for animal aid, in order to guaranty the handicapped person a follow-up of the dog ensuring the security and efficiency of the aid.
Existence of a document providing detailed information on the selection and the origin of the puppies;
For each dog, an individual record of veterinary health and temperament, regularly kept throughout the assistance lifetime of the dog;
Puppies must be placed free of charge with a puppy-walking family for at least 10 months for a guide dog and 16 months for an assistance dog;
The dogs must be trained for at least 6 months in view of assisting persons;
Ensure a re-homing of quality for the dogs once they have finished working as assistance dogs for the handicapped persons;
Employ guide dog or assistance dog instructors holding the official qualification for that purpose, registered by legal decree;
Have an allocation committee in charge of studying applications for dogs and of deciding, on the applicants' ability of using and taking care of an assistance dog or a guide dog, after an interview with the applicants and under provision of a medical certificate dated from less than 3 months. This committee must include at least a physician, a qualified dog instructor and, for guide dogs training centres, an Orientation and Mobility instructor holding the official O&M degree for visually impaired persons delivered by the State Secretary in charge of the Handicapped Persons;
Only allocate an assistance or a guide dog to the persons holding an invalidity card under Article L. 241-3 of Social Welfare and Families Act (ie usually more than 80% visually impaired);
Organise, before any official allocation, a matching course for the visually impaired person and the dog, no shorter than 2 weeks. Concerning the allocation of a guide dog, one of those 2 weeks must take place where the visually impaired person actually lives;
Obey the technical criteria defined by decrees of the State Secretary in charge of the Handicapped Persons and the State Secretary of Agriculture and Fishery.
Law 2005-102 from 11 February, 2005 on the Equality of Rights and Chances, the Integration and the Citizenship of the Handicapped Persons
Decree 2005-1776 from 30 December, 2005 concerning the labels of assistance dogs and guide dogs training centres
What are the requirements to bring my guide dog to France?
This actually depends where you come from, but you should be aware that in some cases, you should prepare your first journey to France at least 4 months in advance.
See complete information at: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/pets/nocomm_third_en.htm
What will be required?
In any case:
- A microchip ( complying with ISO Standard 11784 or capable of being read by ISO Standard 11785) must identify your guide dog. A clearly readable tattoo applied before 3 July 2011 is acceptable.
- Your dog must have been vaccinated against rabies (primary and booster vaccinations) and the vaccine be valid. Within the EU a first vaccine is considered to be valid after 21 days.
If you are coming from a EU country or from Andorra , Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and The Vatican :
3a. You must have the EU passport for your pet certifying its identity and rabbies vaccinations.
If you come one of the following countries listed below as Appendix 1:
(eg Australia, Canada, Japan, Russia, USA etc.)
3b. You need a health certificate executed by a certified veterinarian in your country. English version: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/pets/sanco10767r4_en.doc
If you are coming from another non EU country :
3c. Your guide dog must have a rabies neutralising antibody titration test (a blood test) by a EU-approved lab (http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/pets/approval_en.htm) at least 30 days after vaccination and 3 monthsbefore arrival. The result of the test must be equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml .
Once performed, there is no need to renew the test if booster vaccinations have been made ever since as prescribed by the vaccine producing laboratory. If the booster rules are not respected, the pet will have to be tested again after a new vaccination and will again be considered to be in conformity with the rules only three months later.
- You need a health certificate executed by a certified veterinarian in your country.
We advise you to check whether specific requirements apply to come back to your own country.
That’s it! Don't forget to bring your guide dog's health certificate or passport and the documents proving rabies vaccinations and the titration test results with you!
United Arab Emirates
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Trinidad and Tobago
United States of America (including GU — Guam)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
British Virgin Islands
Wallis and Futuna
What can I use the Eurostar to get to France with my guide dog?
Yes. The Eurostar Company has eventually accepted allowing guide dogs on their trains, including those to and from Britain. The measure has been implemented since August 2003.
Where can I go with my guide dog in France? Can I use public transports?
The new Law of 11 Fébruary 2005 guarantees free access for guide dog users to all places and facilities open to the general public: public buildings and transports, shops, hotels, restaurants, museums, etc. Sanitary restrictions limit access to rooms and care units in hospitals, kitchens in catering facilities, etc. It may also be requested that guide dogs be muzzled in air transports.
You can be required to show your disability card and a document identifying your dog as guide dog.
However it may happen that your interlocutors are unaware of guide dogs access rights. The best attitude is to inform them, a smile being your best advocate!
How will my guide dog be accepted?
Guide dogs are usually welcome as they are much admired. However free access does not mean absence of rules. Your guide dog could be denied access if he/she does not behave.
What can I do if access is unduly refused?
- He/she is expected to relieve himself/herself in the curb, not on the pavement.
- Do not let him/her run all over the place in restaurants or on the beach, jump on the seats in taxis or sleep on your bed in hotels!
If negotiation proves unfruitful, call for the police (dial 17) so the trespassing is recorded and report the case to the French Association of Guide Dog Users. Refusing access to a place open to the public is repressed by a € 305 fine.
Where can I get the address of a school in Japan / Portugal / etc?
The information is available on the International Federation Website : www.igdf.org.uk