By Chris Trudell-Conklin
As a guide dog handler to Cody, a three-year-old golden retriever, I shouldn’t have to fight for my rights when businesses are breaking the law. I should be able to take any type of transportation, stay in any hotel, dine in any restaurant – just like anyone else.
In all of Canada's 13 jurisdictions, it is against the law to discriminate against a person with a disability who is working with a service animal. Discrimination includes denial of access to any premises to which the public would normally have access – yet it happens every day.
Cody accompanies me everywhere: on the bus, to the grocery store, back-to-school clothes shopping with the kids, and even to the vaccine clinic. As long as guide dogs are well-groomed, under our control and doing what they were trained to do, guide dog handlers have the same rights as everyone else.
Police need to be educated about the laws that protect guide dog handlers. It’s their job to uphold these laws and protect us. If someone is refused, it is their job to say, “this person is allowed in here with their guide dog.”
If you see a guide dog team being discriminated against, please consider stepping up and offering assistance. You can explain to the business owner that it is against the law to refuse service or deny access to a person accompanied by a guide dog. To learn more, visit guidedogchampions.ca.