Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Retail Business and Accommodation Provider Rights wrt Service Dogs in BC

If you are a retail, small business, transportation provider or accommodation provider in BC, you will want to know the following:

Province of BC Certified service dogs are allowed to accompany their handler in all places that the general public can access. If the public cannot access it, then the person with the service dog cannot either. Employment situations may vary and is a separate issue.

1. Ask if this is a service dog
2. Ask to see the collar tag issued only by the Province of BC, Ministry of Justice Dept (The handler must be able to provide the tag on the spot just like they would a driver's licence. If they cannot, you can ask them to go get it and come back.) Note: they do not have to have any sort of other vest, harness or collar to identify the dog as a service dog.

Service dogs in training are only protected by law IF the handler is a certified trainer with a Assistance Dog International (ADI) accredited program or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) accredited trainer and carries a BC issued certificate. OR if they have received prior permission in writing from the owner or manager of the premises to train.

Be aware there are hundreds of places online where people can purchase a "certification" that is not legitimate. The people may honestly believe their dog is certified. These certifications do not require an in-person test so the dog is an unknown.

You can ask the handler to remove a certified service dog if:
the dog is not under control of the handler
a dog is disruptive (barking, growling etc)
a dog has defecated or urinated on your premises (keep in mind the dogs do make occasional mistakes and the handler should be prepared to clean it up)
off leash (unless the leash legitimately interferes with the dog's ability to do his job-there are very few situations where this would occur according to BC laws)

A service dog handler may be asked to leave if:
s/he is behaving inappropriately (just as any other patron can be) or causing a disruption

Accommodation provider (short or long term):
cannot charge a pet deposit or cleaning fee for certified service dogs.
cannot evict a person from a rental or request them to remove a dog who is a certified service dog, certified service dog in training or a certified retired service dog living with them.

What to do if a member of a service dog team is creating a disturbance:
  • Verify if they are or are not a BC certified team   If so, record their certificate number and general description of the team (person's sex, hair colour, height of person, sex and breed of dog etc.)
  • If they are not BC certified and do not have special permission to have access your site or facility, ask the team to leave.
  • If the problem is the dog, ask the person to remove the dog, but the person can come back in without the dog
  • If the problem is the person, ask the person to leave and the dog goes with them
If a legitimate BC Certified service dog is disallowed access, there is up to a $3000 fine to the retailer/service provider.

Additional notes:
1. There are service dog teams that are not yet certified that may be legitimate teams in training but are owner-training (usually with the support of a private trainer). They would have asked for permission in writing from the owner or manager of the premises to be allowed to train on site. 
If a team can prove they have a prescription from a BC Doctor for a service dog, that the dog has specific training as a service dog (proof of training and logged hours) and that the dog has been  specifically trained to do tasks that mitigate their disability, then they are legitimate. This can only be determined after the fact and it is up to the person with the dog to prove it. When the team is ready for assessment for public access, they can apply for BC Certification through the Ministry of Justice. 


2. Visitors from outside of BC without a BC certification card are not recognized as service dogs. However, if they have been trained and have another certification by an ADI or IGDF accredited school, then you may choose to waive this law but it is at your own risk if your establishment service food etc.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal hears public access disputes and settles them. If found guilty of faking a service dog, a handler is subject up to a $3000 fine.

Note: The above is not legal information. Please refer to or talk to for the most accurate and current information.

Emotional support dogs (provide only emotional support for one indivdual and not trained to do tasks) or therapy dogs (a dog generally visits groups of people such as the St John Ambulance Therapy dogs) are not recognized for protection under British Columbia public access laws.

Page Updated Dec 1, 2016