This page itemizes the most frequently asked questions that have been posed by service providers, along with our responses. We trust you will find the answer to your question here. You may also find the answer to your question within our Frequently Asked Questions by the General Public link. However, if this is not the case, we invite you to submit your inquiry here and we will respond with an answer.
Question: As a business owner, I have posted notices at the entrance to my business and on my web site clearly stating “No Pets Allowed.” Is this a sufficient disclaimer to bar a blind person from coming into my business with their dog?
Answer: It is important to clarify the difference between a domestic “pet” and a certified “guide dog.” A certified guide dog has been bread and selected for its temperament, intelligence and its physical health. It has received extensive training and been required to meet rigid standards to qualify as a guide dog. domestic pets are not given the same level of training and rarely do they meet the same standards.
Guide dogs are often referred to as “working dogs”, dog guides, or “…that person’s eyes” by the general public. Whatever label is used, it is important to recognize a person with a disability accompanied by a guide dog is legally entitled to obtain any service or enter any premise that is available to the public.
Service providers may request identification if their is any question regarding the authenticity of the guide dog. However, the need to ask for this is usually not required as guide dogs wear harnesses which are generally sufficient to confirm the validity of the dog. This being said, guide dog teams do have identification that you can ask to inspect if you are truly uncertain. This identification will validate the fact the dog is a certified guide dog.
In summary, signs that say “No Pets Allowed” may apply to domestic pets but they do NOT apply to a guide dog team. Many of the guide dog schools
are happy to provide business owners, upon request, with window decals which read “Service Animals Welcome” – an excellent way to demonstrate your business is inclusive and welcoming to persons accompanied by a guide or service dog.
Question: When the Public Health Inspectors inspected our restaurant, they advised us that dogs were banned from eating establishments according to a city by-law. For this reason, may I refuse a guide dog to enter my restaurant?
Answer: No, such a by-law applies to domestic pets and not to a working guide dog.
Question: A member of my staff is afraid of/allergic to dogs. What are my obligations in this case?
Answer: Businesses have a “duty to accommodate” when a guide dog team enters the premises. This can be achieved in different ways. For example, upon providing an explanation as to the reason behind the request, the guide dog user can be asked if they would consider sitting in another section of a restaurant as often they will agree to do. However, it is important to recognize they are not required to do so. Another option may be to temporarily assign the employee to other duties or to another section within your business.
Question: Our hotel welcomes pets and has a special wing where guests with dogs can stay. Can we require a guide dog team to stay in our “Pet Section”?
Answer: You can certainly ask the guide dog handler if they are willing to do so. However, a person with a disability accompanied by a guide dog is permitted to occupy any room that is normally available to the public.
Question: May I charge an additional fee when a guide dog occupies a room and how much can I charge?
Answer: Charging extra fees because of the presence of a guide dog is forbidden by law. This applies to all businesses that provide temporary accommodation such as hotels, motels or B&B’s. This also applies to transportation providers such as taxis, buses, airlines and to restaurants etc. Because a guide dog may shed a few hairs of its coat is not just cause to levy an additional charge.
Question: What can I charge if a guide dog causes damage to my business?
Answer: Although this is extremely rare, guide dog users are responsible for any permanent damage that their dog may cause.
Question: As a food server in a restaurant, I am often tempted to offer a guide dog some tasty treat like leftover scraps of meat or even just some water in a bowl. Is this acceptable?
Answer: While your heart may well be in the right place, offering a guide dog extra food or water can be very damaging to the dog’s dietary regiment, seriously alter his feeding/relieving schedule and negatively impact a critical aspect of his training. There are three primary reasons why guide dog users will reject offers of food or drink for their guides:
- Guide dogs have been conditioned not to expect or accept food or drink when they are inside a restaurant. This disciplined behaviour is partially why service providers such as restauranteurs and the general public welcome these dogs into their establishments. Once a guide dog experiences the offering of extra food or drink in a place where his handler is eating, he will quickly equate that this is a place where he just might get an extra treat. Suddenly his training of laying quietly on the floor while his handler enjoys their meal goes right out the window. Furthermore, the guide dog may just get the idea that leaving his handlers side to go solicit some handouts from other patrons who are admiring him (and are likely an easy target for a handout or two) may will cause the dog to become very solicit in restaurant environments.
- The second reason is directly connected to the fact these dogs are on a highly regimented feeding schedule. Guide dog handlers have been educated on what best to feed their dog for optimum health and performance. Keeping the guide dog on a consistent schedule also results in a very regular relieving schedule. Extra food or drink could seriously disrupt this routine, thereby likely affecting the handlers work or other schedule.
- Guide dog users will likely explain that they are the sole providers and provide the care for their dog. They offer water to the dog at regular intervals. It is very important for them and for the health of their guide dog that they be firm with regard to extra food. Do not take the decline personally. No food should be offered to a guide dog in a restaurant or any other venue.
Question: If a guide dog is barking continuously or it is unkempt, may I tell its handler that they must leave?
Answer: Guide dogs are constantly screened for their calm temperament during the several stages of training. When a potential guide dog is found to be too “vocal”, it is often released from the program and returned to its puppy-raiser to serve as a domestic pet. It is very rare that a guide dog would bark while in harness unless some situation startles the dog but even then, it would likely be just a single bark or two. Guide dog users have been trained on how best to silence their dog. Not unlike the parent of an infant, whose child begins to cry in a restaurant or other such venue, a guide dog user should be given the opportunity to correct their dog’s behaviour.
Guide dog users are respectful of business owners and their premises. If their guide dog is, for some reason causing a disturbance or untidy, they will very likely avoid public venues. As a business owner, you may be entitled to ask such a guide dog team to vacate your premises but be aware the condition or behaviour of the guide dog is subjective. We would recommend you discuss your concerns with the guide dog handler before any corrective action is taken.
Question: On a rainy day, may I restrict a guide dog who is wet and its handler from entering my business?
Answer: The simple answer is “no”. You can certainly ask the handler to do their best to dry the dog off. However, recognize that other customers are likely entering your business with wet shoes, coats, jackets, etc.
Question: Is the guide dog permitted to sit on the back seat of a taxi or to occupy a seat on a bus or in a restaurant?
Answer: No! Guide dog schools and their graduates frown upon such behaviour by the dog. Handlers have been shown the best methods to correct this behaviour on the rare occasions this might happen.
Question: I’m interested in learning more about guide dogs, the extent of their training, rules regarding access etc. for myself and my staff. How would I obtain such information in the form of an actual presentation?
Refer to our Guide Dogs – Associations, Organizations and Schools
where you will find contact information for each of the schools and organizations associated with the guide dog movement. Each of the schools provide in-depth information about guide dogs in general and detailed information regarding their program and services. These schools and associations have graduates, numerous volunteers or staff that would be happy to make such a presentation.