Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride spent last Saturday at the East Kilbride Shopping Centre supporting East Kilbride’s famous Guide Dog, Hugo, in his campaign to have VAT removed from the specialist food charities buy for assistance dogs.
Under current VAT rules, guide dogs and other assistance dogs are not classed as working animals, therefore, unlike racing greyhounds and sheepdogs, they are charged VAT on their food.
Linda said “Assistance dogs do wide-ranging and fascinating work helping their owners to perform tasks, which increases their owners’ physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
“In 2011, the charity was responsible for 1,000 dogs. They incur a yearly VAT spend of £40,000 on dog food. If we made that food VAT exempt, we could provide a much-valued guide dog to another person with a disability in Scotland.
“I am proud to be supporting this campaign and encourage anyone who wants to become involved to sign the online petition calling for Westminster to change the VAT rules so that we can provide more disabled people with a much valued assistance dog.”
Chris Sinclair, East Kilbride Guide Dogs for the Blind campaigner, organised the event on Saturday which gave shoppers the chance to meet his now famous dog Hugo, along with other assistance dogs, learn more about the work they do and most importantly, sign the petition to get assistance dogs classed as working dogs by HMRC.
Chris said “I’m delighted with the response of East Kilbride shoppers who happily signed our petition. We were able to collect nearly 2000 signatures which will be added to number collected from all over the country and from the online petition too.
“I would really like to thank the East Kilbride Shopping Centre staff, especially those in estates management and security for all their help in organising the event. I would also like to thank the staff at Starbucks who gave out coffees to our army of helpers which kept them going all day.
“The event brought together all kinds of organisations such as Julie and her team from Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Puppy Walkers and Canine Partners. I especially would like to thank the young people from St Andrew’s and St Bryde’s High School and Hugo’s Facebook friends Alanna and Shannon Gaffney who were inspired to come along and help after following Hugo’s campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
“Finally, I would like to thank Linda Fabiani and her team for all their hard work and hopefully we will get the Westminster Government to change their policy and recognise assistance dogs as working animals.”
- Under current UK VAT legislation owners of working dogs are not required to pay VAT on their food
- Zero rated pet food is high in protein as it is for dogs who are physically active for the majority of the day
- Assistance dogs do not require this high protein diet so their food is not VAT exempt
- At present UK wide, Guide Dogs spends £300,000 per year on the VAT liable for the dog food they purchase which is money that could be spent on helping blind and partially sighted people live independently.
- Our aim is to have the current legislation changed so that assistance dogs are counted as working dogs and therefore their owners are not required to pay VAT on their food
Link to Petition
You can follow Hugo online at
www.facebook.com/hugotheguidedog and on twitter @hugotheguidedog