06/05/2015 10:28 EDT | Updated 06/05/2016 05:59 EDT

Nova Scotia wants public input on legislation for service animals

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government is asking for public input as it drafts new legislation governing service animals.

The Justice Ministry is holding three open houses this month to seek feedback on the definition of service animals, identification standards and penalties for breaking laws that protect people who use them.

A discussion paper and online survey are now available as well.

Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab says the use of service animals is increasing for people who are visually impaired or who have other disabilities such as autism, mobility issues, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

She says the province needs to clarify what qualifies as a service animal so the rights of those who rely on them are protected.

A new law takes effect in British Columbia later this year imposing a service dog testing process and stricter penalties for service animal impersonation, which experts say has escalated sharply in recent years. (The Canadian Press)