"Love is a Four- Legged Word" - Service Dogs

Written by Barb Andrews, Law Clerk   Dog as “man’s best friend” is an understatement for the over 250,000 Ontarians who rely on the assistance provided by their service dogs on a daily basis.    The first thought that comes to mind of a service dog is often a guide dog for the blind; however, service dogs are utilized by people with epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health challenges and physical disabilities, as well as by others. To register a service dog, the dog must be readily identifiable as a service animal for reasons related to the handler’s physical or psychological issues. The handler must provide documentation from any one of several regulated health professionals confirming the need for the service dog as a result of a disability.  These regulated health professionals include an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, chiropractor, nurse, occupational therapist, optometrist, physician, physiotherapist, psychologist, psychotherapist or mental health therapist. As the service dog is not a pet but rather, a working animal providing a specific service to his/her handler, there should not be any further fees or requirements that may apply to pets.   A service dog may accompany its owner/handler to any publicly-accessible space, including restaurants, museums, airports, theaters, stores, taxis and parks.  The dog must be trained to meet the specific needs of your disability. Service Dogs Canada recognizes that you may train your own dog, and supplies you with the appropriate identification to allow your dog to accompany you in public.  The service dog package which may be purchased at a cost of $250.00 includes:  
  • vest embroidered with a Service Dog Patch
  • plastic wallet card
  • customized metal collar Tag
  • Service Dog Certificate
  The Attorney General or an officer of the Ministry designated by the Attorney General in writing may, upon application, issue to a person with a disability an identification card identifying the person and his/her service dog.  The identification card must be available for inspection at all times that the service dog is in service (“working”).   Public Access Test for Qualification Many of these access questions do not apply to small dogs.  Your dog must be able to demonstrate:  
  1. Heel – your dog must stay in a heel position when walking and show a relaxed attitude with no fear of cars or traffic noise.  Smaller dogs may be carried;
  2. Sit on command – your dog must be trained to sit on command and be trained not to break the sit command if food is dropped from a table in a restaurant.  Also, your dog must obey the sit command even if approached by children or strangers;
  3. Aggression – your dog may acknowledge noise but not react with or show any form of aggression;
  4. Under table command – your dog must be trained to sit under a table within a restaurant or, if on public transit between your legs or at your side.  Your dog needs to continue to sit or lie down and should not jump up and down frequently.
  In order to qualify to have a dog categorized as a special need service dog, there must be a report from a medical physician, or an accredited specialist, indicating the referral for a service dog, and the reason for the referral including a description of the physical and/or psychological challenges of the handler, with supporting documentation provided to Canada Service Dogs. The cost of registering a service dog in Ontario is $75.00.   As a result of a serious motor vehicle accident, one of our clients purchased a service dog to help with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, especially when traveling in a vehicle.  She named her service dog Faith. Faith accompanies our client to all activities outside her home and is by her side if and when panic attacks occur.  Just the presence of Faith has a calming effect and Faith knows exactly how to calm her handler. Faith has now gone beyond a friend and is an essential part of her handler’s everyday life from the moment that her handler awakens to late in the evening when the quiet of the night lends to feelings of anxiety and depression.  Faith is priceless and has become an integral part of her handler’s life. When describing Faith her handler becomes emotional and has said that Faith saves her life each and every day.   At Gluckstein Lawyers, our goal is to make a positive impact on our clients' lives and the community at large. Read More about Barb Andrews and the ways she is impacting her community.  https://www.gluckstein.com/pet-food-drive-2019/ https://www.gluckstein.com/winter-clothing-drive-2019/   "Love is a Four- Legged Word" (Anonymous)


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