New rules to ensure access for guide dogs

Provincial legislation includes housing rights for service dogs, stiffer fines for violators who deny access

Vancouver Island resident Barb Moody with her new guide dog Sky last April

People with disabilities who use guide dogs or service dogs are being promised equal access to public places such as restaurants and the transit system under planned provincial reforms.

New legislation introduced Thursday would guarantee them the same access rights and privileges as anyone else, and ensure those rights override any pet restrictions imposed in housing complexes by landlords or stratas.

Retired guide and service dogs will also be protected under the housing rules so they don’t have to be separated from their owners even if a new dog has taken up their old role.

“With these changes we can make sure that a fully certified dog will be appropriately recognized and won’t result in someone with a disability being turned away from a service,” Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell said.

Violators such as stores and restaurants who refuse entry to service dogs will also face stiffer fines of as much as $3,000.

Disability Alliance BC executive director Jane Dyson said tougher penalties were long overdue and the current maximum fine of $200 was “grossly inadequate.”

She said complaints from service dog owners are rare in Vancouver, but said it can be a bigger problem in other parts of the province.

“Hopefully fines will be a last resort,” she said.

The new legislation would require guide and service dogs to be trained by an accredited facility, or to get certified to those standards if they are brought in from outside B.C.

Certified service dogs will have to wear visible standardized ID tags or cards to make their status clear to business owners, landlords and transit staff.

Dyson said the consistent identification – replacing various methods used to date – should help ensure businesses and other service providers understand their responsibilities.

Certified trainers will also be able to take dogs and puppies-in-training into any public place a fully certified dog is allowed. That’s intended to give them more exposure to new and diverse environments before they go into actual service.

Just Posted

UPDATE: One dead, two in hospital after Highway 1 crash near Bridal Falls

Closure expected to last hours, while drivers are told to take detours

Pawnshops support curbing crime with digital database

At least two pawnshops in Penticton are in support of upgrading to a digital list of items purchased

B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

British Columbia Burning written by CBC journalist Bethany Lindsay

Walk to end abuse for those who can’t

SOWINS’s Debbie Scarborough points to the lethal potential in intimate partner abuse

Evacuation orders lifted around Osoyoos Lake

An evacuation order lifted for 15 properties around lake

Buy a lotto ticket and be a hero to B.C. burn victims

The Hometown Heroes Lottery is offering up seven grand prizes including a home in Lake Country

UPDATE: Grass fire burns near Mission Hill winery

Smoke can be seen around West Kelowna as a fire gets underway near Mission Hill

Vernon SAR manager wins national volunteer award

A Vernon Search and Rescue manager was one of those honoured for her dedication and innovation.

Giant beer tanks arrive in new B.C. home city

Molson Coors tanks finish river journey and move to overland trip in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Pipeline supporters rally across B.C.

Five simultaneous events organized by month-old Suits and Boots lobby group

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

B.C.’s Ryan Craig, Vegas Golden Knights chase history

Local product behind bench for expansion team’s incredible championship run

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

Most Read