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Guide Dogs

Animal disease management guidelines for guide dogs entering national parks


Apart from the obvious danger to pets by wild animals, domestic dogs and cats may carry certain pathogens that pose a serious disease risk to wild canids, felids, viverids and mustelids. For this reason, pets may not accompany visitors into National Parks and the official policy of SANParks has been to deny entrance of all pets into National Parks.

Resident dogs belonging to staff in National Parks require compulsory vaccination and deworming annually, and must be confined to the owners' premises, or must be accompanied by the owner on any excursion outside of these confines. No domestic cats are allowed as pets in National Parks. Cats are notorious roamers and will interbreed with the indigenous African Wild Cat and Black footed Cats.

Requirements for guide dogs entering National Parks

Blind and severely visually impaired persons frequently rely intensively on guide dogs for companionship and independence of movement, and very strong bonds develop in this relationship. SANParks management has sympathy with visually handicapped persons, and in order to accommodate and facilitate their visitation and enjoyment of National Parks, application for permission for guide dogs to accompany blind persons into National Parks will be favourably considered. The entry and exit of the guide dog into / out of most National Parks, will be covered by a permit issued by SANParks or Veterinary Wildlife Unit. For guide dogs entering the Kruger National Park, however, the permit should be obtained from the State Veterinarian, P O Box 12, Skukuza 1350. Tel. 013 735 5641; Fax 013 735 5155. Applications for other parks should be directed to the respective park manager.

In the interest of animal disease risk management, the following guidelines should be noted:

  • The guide dogs must be vaccinated against all the major canine infectious diseases such as rabies, canine distemper, canine parvo-virus, canine hepatitis, canine para-influenza virus and leptospirosis. Vaccination boosters must be current and up to date, and the vaccination booklet with vaccination history must accompany the dog.
  • The guide-dog must also have a regular deworming history, and must be dewormed within 30 days prior to entering a National Park.
  • The guide dog must always be under the control of its handler or an accompanying person.
  • The handler or accompanying persons must be equipped with a faecal removal device (poop scooper or plastic gloves / bags) to remove faecal contamination in rest camps or picnic sites.
  • Timeous application for permission to bring a guide dog into a National Park must be made in order facilitate the issue of permits. Please note that access for guide dogs at Park entrance gates will be denied if there is no permit accompanying the dog.
  • No guide dogs will be permitted at unfenced Wilderness Camps.

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