Question: What would be the benefit of seeking certification?
Answer: Certified teams will be issued a standard identification card, which will provide a consistent, simple way to verify that a dog is certified and as such, that it meets a high standard of behavior. This is intended to reduce misunderstandings and delays in certified teams enjoying full use of publicly-accessible facilities.
Violation tickets may also be issued when a certified team is denied public access or tenancy in contravention of the Act, as part of progressive enforcement that will begin with information and education. This is in addition to the increased maximum fine amounts, upon conviction. These penalties would only apply for offences against certified teams.
Question: Will the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act alter the rights granted under the Human Rights Code?
Answer: No, it will in no way alter or remove any rights granted under the Human Rights Code.
Question: Will the ministry only be certifying dogs that have been trained at an Assistance Dogs International- or International Guide Dog Federation-accredited facility?
Answer: No. For dogs that have not been trained at an Assistance Dogs International- or International Guide Dog Federation-accredited facility, there will be an option for testing by the Justice Institute of BC once the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act is in force. This will ensure that dogs have an opportunity to demonstrate that they meet a high standard for public access and safety, regardless of where they were trained.
See the Guide Dog and Service Dog Assessment testing standards to be used by the Justice Institute of BC.
Question: What does the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act do about business owners, bus drivers, taxi drivers, etc. who unlawfully deny access and landlords who unlawfully deny tenancy to certified teams?
Answer: Providing information and education to businesses and public transportation agencies will be an important element for the province as the new guide dog and service dog certification program is implemented. Also, in order to convey the seriousness of denying access or tenancy to a certified team, the maximum fine upon conviction will increase to $3000. Violation tickets will also be an option, as appropriate, following an investigation.
Question: How does the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act address the issue of fraudulent guide or service dogs?
Answer: A new offence of falsely purporting to be a certified team has been created, with a maximum fine upon conviction of $3000. There will also be an option to issue a violation ticket.
Question: What about attacks on certified guide or service dogs?
Answer: A regulation under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will make it an offence to interfere with or harm a certified guide dog or service dog.
Question: What about out-of-province visitors who use a guide or service dog?
Answer: Each jurisdiction has different rules about the certification of guide/service dogs. In order to be certified as a guide/service dog in BC, including on a temporary basis, the dog must meet the same standard as certified dogs residing in BC You can email GuideandServiceDogs@gov.bc.ca to apply for a certificate for your use in B.C
Questions and Answers regarding the current program
Question: How are guide/service dogs certified in BC?
Answer: The Ministry of Justice is preparing to implement the new guide dog and service dog certification program on January 18, 2016. During this period of transition, the Ministry will only be certifying new dog and handler teams that have been trained by schools accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI), or the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), or by schools previously approved by the Ministry.
As there is currently no recognized training standard in place for therapy dogs, emotional support dogs or other types of animals, they are not eligible for certification.
Question: Why are the rules so strict?
Answer: In order to preserve unlimited access and maintain support from the public, we want to ensure that only those dogs that have been trained to the highest standards and behave appropriately with a variety of people in different environments are certified under the Act.
It is important to note that this does not prevent individuals from acquiring animals as pets or companions. As well, it does not take away from protections available under the Human Rights Code.
Question: How does a person obtain a certificate for a guide/service Dog?
Answer: In order to be certified as a guide/service dog in BC, the Ministry must receive confirmation that the dog has been specially trained to the Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) standards. Information can be sent to the Ministry of Justice Security Programs Division.
A list of approved schools that train guide/service dogs in BC can be found on our Contact page.
Question: What rights do individuals with disabilities accompanied by guide/service Dogs have?
Answer: Under the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act, an individual with a disability who is accompanied by a certified guide dog has the same rights and responsibilities as a person without a dog. They must be allowed access to restaurants, taxis, buses or any other location where the general public is allowed.
The Human Rights Code also provides protection from discrimination for persons with disabilities.
Question: What happens if an individual who uses a certified guide/service dog is denied access to a public place?
Answer: If you encounter a problem, you should first talk to the business owner about the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act and provide a copy of your certificate. It may be that the business doesn’t know about guide or service dogs, how they assist persons with disabilities, or why access is needed.
If you’re still denied access, you may want to contact the Human Rights Tribunal about pursuing remedies under the Human Rights Code.
Question: How do I find a school that certifies guide/service dogs?
Answer: Assistance Dogs International and the International Guide Dog Federation certify training facilities across the world. Listings of the facilities they have accredited may be found on their websites.
A list of schools that are approved to train guide/service dogs in BC can be found on our Contact page.
Contact the schools directly for information on their programs and/or how to obtain a guide or service dog.
Question: How do I get my dog certified as a therapy or emotional support dog? Can I have another type of animal certified?
Answer: As there is currently no recognized training standard for therapy dogs or animals other than dogs, they are not eligible for certification at this time. This does not prevent people from acquiring animals as pets or companions.