WATCH ABOVE: Advocates are calling for official government ID for service dogs. They say it’ll cut down on fraud and help those who legitimately need the dog. Christina Stevens reports.
TORONTO — In Ontario, service dogs used by people with disabilities other than visual impairment don’t get the same government identification.
The head of a service dog training organization is calling on the Ontario government to change that.
“It’s a huge grey area,” said Danielle Forbes, executive director of National Service Dogs.
The issue is that a lot of businesses still don’t realize that Service Dogs are used for less or non-visible disabilities, such as epilepsy, autism and PTSD.
If refused entry to areas where animals are otherwise prohibited, those who require a service dog have to show a doctor’s note to prove their case.
The problem is twofold. It can be humiliating for people who legitimately need the dog to have to hand over a doctor’s note and it is easy for people to fake needing a service dog.
Anyone can print out a fraudulent doctor’s note and buy service dog vests and other accessories online.
“I’ve been in this business for 20 years and the issues we’ve been having over the last five or six years just seem to be escalating,” said Forbes.
Advocates have said the solution is simple. The Ontario Government should issue official ID cards. They already do it for people with guide dogs, but not service dogs. In contrast Alberta issues ID for all service dogs.
“You either have it or you don’t. It’s not grey, it’s black and white and coming from the government,” said Forbes.
But it doesn’t appear to be on the province’s agenda.
The minister in charge of accessibility issues couldn’t answer when asked what the difference is as far as ID for people with guide dogs versus other service dogs.
“I don’t… you know those specifics may be outlined in the legislation but the fact of the matter is it shouldn’t be about identification, it’s about training of staff,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.
That doesn’t stop fakes, or help reduce the embarrassment of having to show a doctor’s note.
And Forbes doesn’t see where there would be a downside for the government to issue ID.
“Having a Service Dog Act in the province of Ontario would be easier for us.”