Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March singles out landlords in push to stop discrimination against disabled with assist dogs

Ricardo Menéndez March
Ricardo Menéndez March. Photo credit: Facebook/supplied/Getty

A day after getting into a dogfight with National over the police force's use of canines, a Bill in the name of Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March which would make it against the law to discriminate against people with disability dogs has been drawn from the biscuit tin. 

The Human Rights (Disability Assist Dogs Non-Discrimination) Amendment Bill was originally drafted by former Green MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her seat at the 2017 election. 

"The Bill will amend the Human Rights Act to ensure that disabled New Zealanders don't face any discrimination for having a disability assist dog," Menéndez March told Newshub.

"This is something that was drafted by former Green MP Mojo Mathers, after she received feedback from the disabled community about discrimination they were facing."

While it's currently illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability, Menéndez March says some people still get away with it by focusing on many disabled people's use of dogs - such as landlords refusing to rent houses to them.

"No one in this country should have their rental application turned down purely because they have an assist dog that makes their life easier and more fulfilling."

Menéndez March says dogs help people with disabilities in all kinds of ways that might not be readily apparent. 

"They can alert deaf people to fire alarms, they can pre-empt and warn against seizures, and they can assist people with PTSD or Alzheimer's."

Menéndez March said he hopes to get support from across the House for the change. Earlier this week he clashed with National MPs when he called police dogs "attack dogs".

Matt Doocey and Tim van de Molen argued with him in Parliament on Wednesday, while Simeon Brown and leader Judith Collins expressed their opposition on social media site Twitter. 

"Good morning to the all the good boys," Menéndez March responded on Thursday, posting a picture of a friendly-looking dog wearing a neckerchief.