Canadian accessibility laws for assistance dogs and their handlers differ from province to province. A complete list of these laws can be found at www.nsd.on.ca/about/legislation.

Although the roles of assistance dogs have evolved quite a bit, the laws and people’s perceptions have been slow to follow. For instance, although National Service Dogs has been training and placing dogs for over 15 years, our Certified Service Dog Program is still seen as a new program by government standards and is not recognized in a lot of the legislation.

All assistance dogs placed by member organizations of Assistance Dogs International must pass a standardized test for public access, called the Public Access Test (PAT). By passing the PAT administered by a staff member of an accredited assistance dog organization, assistance dogs are granted access to public places like shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, and public pools – more about this in tomorrow’s blog post!

It is unlawful to discriminate against an individual accompanied by a certified assistance dog. Assistance dogs are always the exception to a “no pets” policy and are free to accompany their handler anywhere the public is customarily admitted.

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about the standards required for assistance dogs to gain and maintain public access. Come back and read us again!