Singapore Paralympic swimmer draws mixed reactions to ‘discrimination’ against dining with guide dogs
Paralympic swimmer and guide dog advocate Sophie Soon has always been pushing for more awareness, understanding and kindness towards guide dogs in the community.
Her guide dog Orinda and her have been on plenty of adventures around town but sometimes, they get into less than pleasant situations which see them getting turned away from places and establishments.
In a recent video Soon shared, it showed her and her mother asking a member of staff from Rocky Masters in Hougang 1 shopping mall why they were being discriminated against.
The staffperson was on the phone seemingly to a manager who gave the instructions that the two of them could still dine at the establishment but had to sit outside instead with the guide dog.
@sophsoon How many times does this happen to us before we can be treated like any other customer. #guidedogs#guidedogssg#accessibility#tiktoksgviral
The video ended with Soon asking the staff, “What happens if we post the video again?” – and they were told that a police report would be made by Rocky Masters.
Second video – and the reactions
Soon also followed up with another video expressing her frustration at guide dog laws in SIngapore and the lack of information and “education” service staff have.
“This is happening way too frequently. I’m as sick of talking about this like a broken recorder as you are probably of seeing me on your feed. We need to take guide dog laws way more seriously,” she wrote on her caption.
In the video she said that she will continue to talk about guide dog awareness because if she doesn’t, “businesses are just gonna continue and get away with this kind of behavior discriminating against guided [dog] users and ultimately treating us incredibly rude.”
She added that they almost always act like they are right “when they’re the ones who are uneducated.”
This is happening way too frequently. I’m as sick of talking about this like a broken recorder as you are probably of seeing me on your feed. We need to take guide dog laws way more seriously. #guidedogs#accessibility#tiktoksg
She also mentioned in the video that as much as feels that she has to stand up for the community, “causing a scene” is hardly something she wants to do and she hopes that this matter will be taken seriously by the public and service industry.
Angry people everywhere
Of course her comments – and the first video posted – warranted quite a big and divided reaction from the public.
While some were supportive of her actions, there were those who empathized more with the staffperson, saying that Soon had acted entitled or rudely.
They brought up that Rocky Masters was a halal establishment and bringing a dog in might make some Muslims uncomfortable.
The current guide dog law states that guide dogs are approved and allowed in halal-certified premises by the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS).
However, when Muslims accidentally come into contact with dog saliva or their snout, they are required to cleanse once with water that is mixed with earth (soil) and then followed by clean water 6 times. This method is referred to as sertu. Despite that, touching and holding dogs as explained above, is not against Islamic law and is not a sin.
There were also plenty who although agreed that more awareness is needed, felt that her “delivery”, tone of voice and even posting up the video with the staffperson’s face was disrespectful.
Soon has not responded to any of the comments.
Born with an eye condition that makes it hard for her to see objects right in front of her, Soon relies a lot on Orinda, a golden retriever lab mix, to commute safely and independently.
Whose side are you on?
‘How you see?’: Singapore Paralympian and her guide dog stopped at concert venue
They mistook her guide dog for a “pet” and asked her, a visually-impaired person, how she was going to watch the concert. Cringe.