LASALLE – Charles Labreche, 14, uses a service dog to get on with his day-to-day life. The three-year-old labrador named “Wasa” helps alleviate issues of abandonment that he has, according to his mother Cathy Labreche.
The dog also reportedly helps with a short-term learning disability and ADHD. Were it not for the dog, Charles’ family says trips to school and other day-to-day activities would be difficult.
The Labreches became angry, however, when they say Charles and Wasa were refused entry on a bus at the Jolicoeur station.
“She gives him that security that she will never leave him,” said Charles’ mother. The most infuriating part of the experience, she says, is when a bus driver inquires about what condition he possesses which would require an animal.
“It’s none of their business,” she said. “It’s not up to them to determine [whether he has a condition].”
The dog wears a blue handkerchief with a MIRA logo on it, and a leather harness. According to MIRA, those earmarks cannot be bought, and are only distributed by MIRA.
According to Cathy, her son has been refused entry on a bus at least 30 times over the past three years. The boy says it has caused him to miss school.
Sometimes “I’d have to walk,” he said.
His family members say they’ve called officials at the STM – the bus agency – numerous times to complain.
They think that the main culprit is a lack of awareness. Seeing-eye dogs are commonly recognized by the general public. But public awareness of other kinds of service animals is not as high.
The family wants the STM to do a better job of raising awareness so that Charles Labreche would be able to ride the bus without issue.
There are 400 service animals in Quebec other than seeing eye dogs, according to MIRA. Dogs have been used in cases like Labreche’s for 11 years.