Fraser Valley (With files from Global) – Starting in the new year, there will be more protection for people who need service and guide dogs in their day to day living.
There have been plenty of stories of discrimination from landlords and business owners who have a problem with service animals.
The new rules that come into effect January 18, 2016 will lay down the law.
Under the new rules, restaurants, transit, or other businesses who deny a certified guide or service dog user their rights will be subject to fines if convicted.
Fines under the new rules can be as expensive as $3,000, in comparison to the $200 dollars charged previously. The new fines make B.C.’s penalties among the highest in Canada.
Under the new changes, landlords and strata boards with no-pets policies will no longer be able to refuse housing to someone for having a certified guide or service dog.
There will also be a new identification system for certified dogs to make it easier for businesses and landlords to verify if someone’s dog is properly accredited.
The Ministry of Justice says newly certified dogs will need a higher training standard to assure the public that certified dogs are well-behaved and able to tune out distractions.
Owners whose dogs have not been certified through an accredited organization, can have them do the new test to ensure their dogs meet the new standard.
Ministry of Justice explains 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.
“These changes mean people who rely on a guide or service dog are free to enjoy the same things as every citizen,” said Bill Thornton, CEO of B.C. and Alberta Guide Dog Services and Autism Support Dogs.
“Eating out at restaurants, visiting our museums and enjoying our public spaces should not be considered privileges only for those who don’t live with a disability, they are the freedoms of all British Colombian’s,” added Thornton.