Protection Sports in a Wheelchair? - Page 1

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by GSCat on 27 June 2021 - 23:06

Is it possible for a person in a wheelchair, who is able to maneuver his/her own wheelchair, to participate as a handler in Schutzhund, PSA, Ring, etc.? The only thing I can see being an issue is if the field is very muddy, etc. and the person's chair becomes mired/stuck.

Thank you.


by Hundmutter on 28 June 2021 - 03:06

Don't know about sports, maybe depends on individual Clubs regulations ? What I do know is we had a helluva job just getting our KC and the show societies to accept wheelchair handling - and Judging - in British show rings, and I don't actually think its fully settled even yet !


by GK1 on 28 June 2021 - 10:06

Wheelchair using handler wants to compete and is competent/rehearsed in doing so, why the hell not?!

Have a shovel bearer ready to assist with a mud dig-out. And a disability rights attorney.

by Klossbruhe on 28 June 2021 - 13:06

The question posed by the OP was "Is it possible to participate etc" Well, yes it's possible but is it likely and to that I would say it depends on the club, the activity and the dog.

Liability looms over every dog club because dogs can potentially cause injury even when they are not actually participating in any activity but just in a parking lot or some place like that.. Most careful clubs have insurance of some sort and if they belong to an organization like the GSDCA, DVG, UScA, etc they are required to have insurance.

Now, when it comes to IGP (Schutzhund), ring sport etc, There are usually 3 activities involved. It can be argued, from a legal standpoint, that tracking and obedience are not inherently dangerous activities, although certainly in obedience there is always some chance of a dog fight and injury to individuals attempting to stop one. Nonetheless, it would be fair to say, these are not inherently dangerous activities.

However, when it comes to protection, the same cannot be said. This is the phase in which most injuries take place to helpers, handlers and dogs. That being the case, what is the upside for a club to allow disabled individuals to participate in what is inherently and potentially a dangerous activity. In a court of law, it would be easy to argue that it was negligent, reckless and foreseeable that injury was more likely to occur to a disabled person, be it a blind person, deaf person or an individual in a wheelchair than someone who was not. Any club which allowed disabled individuals to take part in the protection segment of these sports would, in the event of a lawsuit, almost be certain to lose and subject to financial loss. No signed waiver would protect them. And if the club was "suit proof" or was not a formal club but just a group of people, the individuals involved could all jointly and severally be sued.

So, to summarize, some clubs might allow an individual in a wheelchair to do tracking or obedience, but I cannot fathom why they would agree to participation in the protection aspect of these sports, unless they were reckless and or brain dead.


by GK1 on 28 June 2021 - 15:06

There are competitive athletes in wheelchairs.

Yet the schutzhund bureaucracy has the authority to determine the k9 handling capabilities of a person who uses a wheelchair in a canned “protection” event.. Fodder for a disability lawyer.

In that case, the dog "protection" sports bureaucracy should also require handler BMI and age limits due to potential injury liability. Maybe even a physical fitness/agility test for handlers, as I’d bet more than a couple of them couldn’t dash across the field and pick up their 80lb dog in an unforeseen situation.


by Rik on 28 June 2021 - 16:06

I know that a couple of posters here have trained on crutches. don't know if they titled on them.

pretty sure laws in the U.S. would prevent anyone from denying someone the chance to do so. my experience is fairly limited but the clubs I have been associated with, I think the people would have gone out of their way to help anyone who was serious about training, no matter the handicap.

like someone said above, an all terrain wheel chair may be needed though. and there are always azzhats. everywhere in life. so don't get discouraged if you (or whoever) run across them.

good luck,

edit to add: didn't read kloss post but also some very valid points.  and it's probably best to get legal opinions from a lawyer. :-)

by Klossbruhe on 28 June 2021 - 16:06

I believe that GK1 is clearly wrong when he or she states that this would be fodder for a disability lawyer. I will briefly explain when and how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to private membership clubs.

Private membership clubs are organizations that generally have some meaningful conditions for membership, with operations often controlled by the membership, and whose facilities and activities are only open to members and their guests. Private clubs are often formed for social or recreational purposes, to promote common causes, or to associate with others who share similar viewpoints or values. A private club has the right of “expressive association,” protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, which means the club is allowed to exclude individuals who do not represent its expressed viewpoints or principles. This enables a private club to maintain a cohesive and consistent message to both its members and the public.

What does Title III of the ADA cover? Title III covers private businesses that own, lease, lease to, or operate any of twelve types of “places of public accommodation.” Examples include hotels, restaurants, theaters, shopping centers, banks, museums, zoos, day care centers, private schools, and health spas. Title III also covers private businesses that offer classes or tests related to applications, licensing, certification, or credentialing for secondary or post-secondary education, professional, or trade purposes. Examples include the GED, SAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT tests, as well as classes designed to prepare students to take these examinations. Title III addresses disability-based discrimination, including ensuring access to goods and services, making reasonable policy modifications, and communicating effectively with individuals who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities.

Courts, in deciding whether an organization is truly a private club, have considered factors such as:
· The degree to which members control club operations
· The selectivity of the membership process
· Whether substantial membership fees are charged
· Whether the organization is operated on a nonprofit basis
· To what extent the facilities are open to the public
· To what extent the club receives public funding
· Whether the club was created specifically to avoid compliance with civil rights laws

So, are private clubs covered under Title III?
No. Even a cursory reading of the act leads to the conclusion that private membership clubs do not have to comply with ADA regulations

Hence I do not think any competent lawyer in the field of disability discrimination would take up a case of an individual in a wheelchair who was denied the right to participate in the protection aspect of sports such as IGP or Ring Sport.


by sentinelharts on 28 June 2021 - 17:06

Jason Lake has been doing it for years


by Koots on 28 June 2021 - 18:06

Made the links live.   I recently saw a post on FB of a wheelchair-bound handler training for IGP, not sure if same person as Sentinel mentioned.


by Rik on 28 June 2021 - 18:06

koots, maybe I'm stupid, but I was young and now I'm old and my experience in life is there are many, many more people in this world willing to help than hinder.

and that does include dog folk.

enjoyed the links,


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