Monday, February 16, 2015

Thinking of Visiting BC with a Service Dog?

Here is the official stance:

"I’m visiting B.C. and will be bringing my guide or service dog.  Will we have full access rights when we arrive?
Each jurisdiction has different rules as to the certification of guide/service dogs.  In order to be certified as a guide/service dog in BC, even on a temporary basis, the dog must be trained by a facility accredited by Assistance Dogs International or International Guide Dog Federation or under go a test to prove s/he has a suitable temperament and is trained to work in public. Public safety is the main concern for public access.  Contact the Ministry before you come (see link below).  Fill out the required forms and if you can provide confirmation that the dog has been trained by an ADI or IGDF facility, the Ministry will provide a certificate (providing that you apply ahead of time) and you will have access rights when you arrive in BC until the certificate expires in 2 years.

If your dog has not been certified by ADI or IGDF accredited organization, then you need to apply for BC certification. You will be asked to provide medical documentation for both you and your dog from BC Practictioners. Once that has been processed by the Ministry, a practical test will be set up for when you arrive in BC. You and your dog as a team must pass all 40 pieces of the test in order to be issued a certificate. The certificate is good for 2 years and can be renewed. There is a $200 fee involved. 
Visit this site for more details and the forms you need to fill out and send in.
If you decide or don't have time to get your dog certified, then he will be treated as a pet and limited to the same laws as a pet.

You may also want to contact the hotel accommodation prior to arriving to ensure that there are no unforeseen issues. In general, most of the transportation companies are very accommodating but you will need to let them know ahead of time that you are bringing a service dog with you. Check the specific documentation requirements for each company. Please note that owner-trained 'Service Dogs in Training' do not have the same exemptions that 'Certified Service Dogs' do in BC. There are many places that will not allow a non-certified dog to enter or stay. 
If your dog does not qualify for certification, it means that you will need to pay pet fees at hotels and not have access to public places where pet dogs are not allowed etc. Many businesses will not grant access for un-certified dogs.
The laws may be similar in Alberta where service dogs must be certified.