For people with disabilities, a service dog in PEI can be an invaluable resource that helps them navigate the world more easily. However, navigating public spaces with a service animal can sometimes be challenging, especially if people aren’t aware of their rights and responsibilities under the law. In Prince Edward Island, the Human Rights Act protects the rights of people with disabilities who use service animals. Here’s what you need to know.
Let’s start with the Basics – How is Service Dog in PEI Defined
The Prince Edward Island Human Rights Commission defines a service dog in PEI as a dog that is trained to directly assist a person with a disability. Disability is defined broadly and includes intellectual, mental or physical disabilities.
Essentially, service dogs are dogs that have been trained to perform a specific task to help their handlers with a disability. A service dog in PEI is intended to improve the quality of life of their handlers, and allow them to function independently.
What Types of Disabilities allow for the use of a Service Dog in PEI
Disabilities can be visible, or non-visible. Visible disabilities include Hemiplegia, Paraplegia, Quadriplegia, MS, Cerebral Palsy. Non-visible disabilities include hearing impairment, stress, depression, intellectual impairments and neurological disease. Service dogs can be trained to help with many types of visible and non-visible disabilities. For example:
· Dogs can be trained to detect oncoming seizures in epileptic patients.
· Dogs can be trained to sense low blood sugar for diabetics.
· Dogs can be attuned to mental states and physically relieve stress for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, PTSD and ADHD.
Recognizing a Service Dog in Prince Edward Island
The Human Rights Commission recognizes service dogs in one of three ways:
1. Physical identifiers
2. Training certificates
3. Handler confirmation
Physical markers such as Bandanas, Collars and IDs are the easiest and most efficient way to ensure your service dog is easily recognized to the public. It is important to understand that formal training is not legally required.
In fact, the Human Rights Commission specifically recommends that handlers should outfit their service dogs with a physical marker. You can purchase a bandana/collar or ID tag here.
The Legal Landscape in PEI
There is no standardized or formal certification process for service dogs in PEI. Rather, if the animal is clearly marked as a service dog and behaving as one would expect a service dog to behave, it should be provided public access and the handler is not required to provide any further information.
If you believe that your rights as a service animal owner have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Prince Edward Island Human Rights Commission. The Commission can investigate the complaint and take action to remedy the situation.
So how do I Register my Service Dog?
Service dogs are not required to be registered in PEI. However, the unfortunate truth is that many individuals and their service dogs are turned away from public establishments unless they have “proof” that their dog is in fact a service dog. This is particularly true for non-visible disabilities. Business owners and service providers ARE PERMITTED to ask if your dog is a service dog and if they are trained to assist you with a disability, and they may want documentation which evidences that the dog is a service dog. Common documentation that can be provided includes:
· A doctor’s note or letter from another medical professional. · A service dog certificate containing relevant information on the dog and handler. As there is no official department that records this information, we recommend you certify your trained service dog with a reputable and trustworthy organization that maintains their own internal and searchable registry, which provide a high level of accountability.
· A graduation certificate from a reputable trainer or training school.
Registering a service dog in PEI is not legally required, but it is often necessary to be able to confirm to businesses and service providers that your dog is in fact a service dog.
Emotional Support Animals in PEI
If your disability does not rise to certain thresholds or if your dog is not specifically trained to perform a specific task, you may be eligible to register your dog as an ESA. ESAs are recognized
as assistance animals, however they do not get the same access of service dogs. That being said, there are many tangible benefits to registering an ESA, such as being able to travel to hotels without extra fees. ESAs are also permitted to live in buildings that do not otherwise allow pets.
Register now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog or ESA Identification and Certification