Stronger rules supporting better access to public spaces and strata properties for people with guide and service dogs come into effect Jan. 18, 2016.
A certified guide or service dog handler has the same rights as a person who does not use a dog for assistance and these changes make it clear that discrimination is unacceptable. Specifically, they streamline the rules already in place, increase penalties for denying a certified guide or service dog user their rights, and protect the public at large. Notable improvements include:
- Higher fines and violation tickets for denying access or tenancy to a certified guide or service dog user.
- A new high training standard for certified dogs, to assure the public and businesses that they are well-behaved.
- Standardized identification cards for certified teams, to provide clarity.
Moving forward, residents will not be denied a place to live based on having a certified guide or service dog. Strata boards and landlords with a no-pets policy may not refuse residency to someone for having a certified guide or service dog.
The new rules also protect the public at large. New identification will make it easier for service providers and businesses to know they are serving someone with a certified guide or service dog. As well, newly certified dogs will meet a high training standard to assure the public that they are well-behaved and able to tune out distractions like food, noise or other animals. For dogs not certified through an accredited guide or service dog organization, handlers can now have them tested to ensure it meets the new standard.
- Guide and service dogs are crucial for many British Columbians who live with a disability. For example, they may help individuals who are visually impaired navigate city streets or provide assistance with things such as hearing loss, epilepsy, diabetes or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Retired dogs are included in the changes to tenancy rules. Once a dog is no longer certified as a working animal, due to age, injury or disease, it will now be able to remain in the home with its handler.
- Handlers seeking to have their guide dogs and service dogs certified will now be able to have them tested by a neutral third party – the Justice Institute of British Columbia – if they were not trained by an accredited school.
- The new Guide Dog and Service Dog Act fulfills a commitment made in Accessibility 2024 – government’s 10 year action plan to make B.C. the most progressive province in Canada for persons with disabilities.
- Original release
- BC’s Ministry of Justice
- B.C.’s new Guide Dog and Service Dog Act
- For more information on Guide and Service Dogs and accreditation
- Disability Alliance of BC
- International Guide Dog Federation