ALBERTA

Calgary Service Dog Access Worst In Canada

12/02/2014 04:38 EST | Updated 12/03/2014 10:59 EST
GK Hart/Vikki Hart via Getty Images

If you live in Calgary, you shouldn't expect service with a service dog by your side.

A concerning study released Monday found that Calgary's intolerance of service dogs leads the nation, despite the pooches being some of the best trained animals out there.

Courageous Companions, a Canadian organization that provides service dogs to veterans and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, found that Calgary is the worst place in Canada to live with a service dog.

The organization collected information over 18 months from more than 300 service dog owners across Canada. They found that dog handlers and their animals were asked to leave 90 per cent of Calgary retailers and businesses they tried to enter.

"We were just in Calgary, and we were denied service at 20 places in a row — we even got kicked out of a club, and we were there with the Stampeders," George Leonard, founder of the Courageous Companions Program, told the Calgary Sun.

On the other hand, Winnipeg, which is also home to Courageous Companions' headquarters, is the most tolerant of all Canadian cities, with only five per cent of businesses refusing service dogs.

The rate of refusal in Edmonton is 49 per cent.

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Facts about service dogs

Accessibility for service dogs is clearly written into Alberta law, stating dogs must be allowed to go anywhere people can go, with some exceptions for kitchens and food plants.

John McDonald, spokesman for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, told CBC News that in most cases store owners are unaware that they are violating provincial regulations and unaware they could be fined up to $3,000 for denying access to service dogs.

“Raising public awareness, education about what the laws contain and don't contain, and more vigilance on the part of the public as well as the handlers themselves about bringing forth these times where they have been denied access,” are all ways more attention and awareness could be brought to the issue, said McDonald.

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