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Guide dog access to public places and services

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Many blind and partially sighted Canadians with guide dogs still find themselves in challenging and frustrating situations when trying to access public facilities and places such as cabs, restaurants and retailers.

Legislation varies from province to province, however in all provinces it contravenes the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to deny a blind person accompanied by a guide dog access to a public place or service.

For more specific information by province, please visit our page on guide dog access legislation.

CNIB Guide Dogs is committed to advocating with guide dog users to increase public awareness and breakdown of physical and attitudinal barriers. To aid in this, we have created a series of Tip Sheets.

What To Do When (Tips for Guide Dog Handlers)

 
What To Do When:
You are Denied Access because of your Guide Dog

Initial Denial

•    Make sure the situation is clear. Tell them you are blind, and this is your guide dog.

•    If you have an identification card that outlines the law, you can try showing it to them.

•    Ask to speak to a manager

If you are still denied access

•    You can file a Human Rights Complaint through your provincial Human Rights Tribunal.

•    You can file a complaint with a by-law officer, if the city licenses the establishment.

•    You can file a police report if you live in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland.

•    You can contact your local media.

•    You can reach out to CNIB Guide Dogs for support with any of these issues.  Contact Victoria Nolan at victoria.nolan@cnib.ca or 416-357-1571.

If you have information to share or would like to request a tip sheet on a particular topic, please contact victoria.nolan@cnib.ca.

What To Do When:
Ordering Taxis

Tips to make things easier

•    It is entirely at your discretion whether or not to disclose that you have a guide dog. Sometimes this relieves stress, so you know the driver is aware ahead of time, but you are under no obligation to disclose if you choose not to. Sometimes disclosing this information can mean a longer than usual wait for a taxi.

•    It is best practice for your guide dog to lay on the floor of the taxi.  If you find it difficult for your dog to fit, you can ask the driver to move the front seat forward.

If you are Denied Access

•    If your driver claims an allergy to dogs:

o    The driver should call you another taxi and wait with you until you are safely picked up

•    If your driver refuses to pick you up because of your guide dog:

o    If the taxi company is licensed by your city you can contact Licensing Enforcement and file a complaint with a by-law officer.

o    If you reside in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland you may also call the police (non-emergency number) as the driver has broken the law under the Blind Persons’ Rights Act and they can be fined up to $5,000 for denying someone service when accompanied by a guide dog “Every person who is in contravention of section 2 is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.7, s. 6 (1).”

o    If you reside in British Columbia, you can call the police (non-emergency number) as the driver has broken the law under the Guide Dogs Act.

o    If you reside in any other province / territory or you want to take your complaint further, you can file a complaint through your provincial or territorial Human Rights Commission.

If you have information you would like to share or would like to request a tip sheet on a particular topic, please contact victoria.nolan@cnib.ca.

What To Do When:
Ordering Uber

Tips to make things easier

•    After booking, call or text the driver. Tell them explicitly where you are. For example, tell them if you need them to pull into the driveway or parking lot. Many of the geo-map “pins” are inaccurate. For example, if you book an Uber to come to 1929 Bayview, the map tells them it’s at the northbound 11 bus stop, not the front entrance. Be sure to let them know your exact waiting spot when you book.

•    It is entirely at your discretion whether or not to disclose that you have a guide dog. Sometimes this relieves stress, so you know the driver is aware ahead of time, but you are under no obligation to disclose if you choose not to. Sometimes disclosing this information can mean a longer than usual wait for a taxi.

Access Denial or Cancellation

•    Uber's policy is that a driver must have an allergy on record

•    If a driver cancels your journey, you will receive a message saying the driver has cancelled the journey. If you suspect it’s because you’re a guide dog handler, it is important that you take a screenshot of the cancellation on your phone. Uber will also have a record of this, but it’s important that you have one, should there be a dispute. The information should also appear in your journey history in your Uber account.

•    Uber has a specific complaint form for issues with a service dog. Go to:

o    Help
o    Accessibility
o    I want to report a service animal issue
o    You don't need to fill out every field, you will be contacted by an uber representative so that you can explain what happened. The purpose of this form is to flag the incident.
o    Uber states on their website that “Any report of unlawful discrimination will result in the temporary deactivation of a partner’s account while Uber reviews the incident. Confirmed violations of the law with respect to riders with disabilities may result in permanent loss of a partner’s access to the Uber platform.”
o    Uber may also be licensed by your city. If you don’t receive a satisfactory resolution through Uber, you can contact Licensing Enforcement.


•    If you reside in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland you may  also call the police (non-emergency number) as the driver has broken the law under the Blind Persons’ Rights Act (further information below) and they can be fined up to $5,000 for denying someone service when accompanied by a guide dog “Every person who is in contravention of section 2 is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.7, s. 6 (1).”

•    If you reside in British Columbia, you can call the police (non-emergency number) as the driver has broken the law under the Guide Dogs Act.

•    If you reside in any other province/ territory or if you’re still not satisfied, you can make a formal complaint to your Human Rights Commission.

If you have information to share or would like to request a tip sheet on another topic, please contact victoria.nolan@cnib.ca.

What to Do When:
Your Dog is Attacked

    
1.  If your dog is attacked by a person:
T    he Justice for Animals In Service Act (Quanto's Law) is a Federal Law that protects service animals, law enforcement animals and military animals in any province or territory. It is an offense to kill, wound, maim, poison or injure one of these animals while they are  carrying out their duties.

2. If your dog is attacked by another dog

Avoiding an attack

•    Where possible avoid areas where you know dogs are off leash.

•    Alert by-law officers or police about dogs who are off-leash or left unattended.

•    If you sense an issue ahead, turn around and avoid it by going another route. It can be frustrating, but you and your dog's safety is more important.

Dealing with an attack.

•    Do your best to get your dog away from the other dog.  If possibl get your dog behind something to block them

•    If there are bystanders, ask for help

Immediately after the attack

•    Ask bystanders to help assess the health of your dog (and yourself if necessary)

•    If you or your dog are injured, call 911. Even if only your dog was hurt. You are one unit and if your dog is impaired, you are as well. Call the police and inform them you and your guide dog have been attacked.

•    Get as much information as you can about the dog and owner.

•    Get your dog checked over by your veterinarian even if they seem to be okay.

•    If you do not need to call the police, the attack should still be reported to animal services.

Advice from Police in reporting a dog attack

•    Get names of police officers or by-law officers in case you need to follow up.

•    If your province/municipality has specific guide dog laws around attacks, keep a copy in your wallet/purse and show it to officers in case they are unaware.

•    A report should be filed either by the police or animal control.

•    If you believe proper protocol was not followed, the appropriate follow up is to contact the respective Chief of Police.

Getting help recovering after a dog attack

•    Contact your guide dog mobility instructor or trainer; someone who is familiar with you and your dog and your history. It will help to have someone who understands your relationship to listen to you.

•    It may be beneficial to speak to a mental health professional or social worker if you feel that memories of the attack are affecting you (e.g., avoiding going out with your dog, avoiding the place of the attack, difficulty sleeping etc.).

•    If you have any tips to share about how you have dealt with the emotional issues resulting from the event, you can help empower others by:

o    Educating the public about leash laws.

o    Informing the public about dog attacks through media.

o    Writing letters to the editors of local newspapers.

o    Meeting with representatives of local law enforcement or animal control agencies.


If you have information to share or would like to request a tip sheet on another topic, please contact victoria.nolan@cnib.ca.