Children & Service Dogs

I decided to write this post because of an incident I had recently while out at a fast-food restaurant. Let me begin by telling you my experience.

It was dinner time about a week ago when my fiance and I decided to go for a bite to eat at a local fast-food restaurant. Toki was put in her vest and we proceeded inside where I found a seat that was out-of-the-way and in the corner where I was most comfortable. Staff members acknowledged Toki as I sat down and got her into a comfortable position under the table. As my fiance left me to order our food I noticed a young woman standing in front of the washroom, waiting for someone. She looked at me and said, “I am surprised they let your dog in here.” which I then explained that Toki is my service dog. After I explained myself to the woman, she than started calling out loudly to her son to come see my “puppy”.  She then started talking to my dog as if I was not even there. Thankfully, as her son came over; so did my fiance with my food.  It stopped the woman from distracting my dog and calling out to her son.  She then left towards the table she was dining at.  I was left in shock and having to explain to my fiance what the woman did. He was quite upset about it too and we both wished children were taught more about Service Dogs and that they are working.

So here I am now writing the post I wanted to write to let parents know that teaching their kids proper etiquette is the best thing they can do. I always feel bad having to tell another person’s child that my dog is working and they can not pet her. It makes me feel better when I hear parents explain to their kids that my dog is working and to leave her alone. It really doesn’t bother me if a child sees my dog and acknowledges it. What bothers me is when a parent lets their child come up and just pet or distract my dog. It also makes me feel terrible when parents get upset when I say “no” to their kids with my dog.

Please parents teach your children and friends that Service Dogs are meant to work and perform a duty for their handler. Know that not all dogs are for kids to pet and play with. Just kindly let them know that the dog is working and to not distract them. I have even seen parents make a game of being quiet around my dog; which I really appreciate. Please make it fun and a learning experience for your children.

Illustration by Samantha-Jeanne
Illustration by Samantha-Jeanne

 Teaching the younger generation about Service Dogs, makes a brighter future for the handlers who use Service Dogs. 


Updates Coming Soon!

1166Updates coming soon…. Just catching up on some sleep after a long weekend!

Laws + Accessibility

I know that people are not accustomed to seeing a cute dog on a leash at a shop,restaurant or any kind of social gathering. People seem to think that only people with seeing,hearing or mobility issues can use Service Dogs or Guide Dogs. This is not the case at all and nor is it true!

Legally anyone with a disability (physical or mental) can use a Service Dog with permission from their doctor with a letter or form. The “Doctor” being your own doctor and not a Veterinarian for your dog. Yes, I have had people ask if their Vet can “okay” a Service Dog and the answer is, No. It must be your personal treating physician who will work with you and your needs.

I have had many issues with accessibility because people are not educated on the rights of those with disabilities. Also, I can not make it clear enough that NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE.  The note provided from a doctor will help with gaining access as it serves as proof that the dog is needed for your personal disability. I have included the AODA (where I am located) but the laws may be different where you live and I suggest reading into them to know your legal rights.

 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

 4.  (1)  This section applies if goods or services are provided to members of the public or other third parties at premises owned or operated by the provider of the goods or services and if the public or third parties have access to the premises.

(2)  If a person with a disability is accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal, the provider of goods or services shall ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the animal and to keep the animal with him or her unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises.

(3)  If a service animal is excluded by law from the premises, the provider of goods or services shall ensure that other measures are available to enable the person with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from the provider’s goods or services.

(8)  In this section,

“guide dog” means a guide dog as defined in section 1 of the Blind Persons Rights’ Act; (“chien-guide”)

“service animal” means an animal described in subsection (9); (“animal d’assistance”)

“support person” means, in relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs or with access to goods or services. (“personne de soutien”)

(9)  For the purposes of this section, an animal is a service animal for a person with a disability,

(a) if it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability; or

(b) if the person provides a letter from a physician or nurse confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.

 Remember you have the right to be a part of society just as anyone without a disability does. Stand up for yourself and know your human rights!