WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg dog trainer has offered up his services for free to help a woman with Alzheimer's keep her Sheltie in her condominium.
Donna Davidson and her son Murray had filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission after the condo board where she lives told her she had to get rid of her dog, named Kaos.
Murray Davidson had said he trained Kaos to help his mother get to and from the care home where her husband lives.
But the condo board said it has a strict no-pets policy, adding they didn't believe Kaos was a legitimate service dog.
That's where dog trainer George Leonard stepped in to work with Donna Davidson and Kaos to help him get his official certification.
Leonard told CTV Winnipeg that once he is done training Kaos, the dog will be able to perform three to five tasks that can offset Davidson's disability.
"It's a solid standard. It's been used in court,” said Leonard. "We've used it to win and advocate for disabled people in Manitoba."
"I'm excited about it, because it'll make me more comfortable that he's doing the right thing and I'm doing the right thing," said Davidson.
It seems the pair is well on its way.
"This dog is off the charts so far,” said dog trainer Yury Harczan. "It's doing very well. Very responsive to its handler, Donna.”
Condo board chairman Bruce Macfarlane said if Kaos is certified to be a service dog, "the board will be satisfied."
In a letter to the Davidson family, the condo board asked for an update on Kaos' training by the end of November, with an estimate on when he will be officially certified.
The human rights commission has said for an animal to be considered a service dog, it must be trained to assist a person with a disability, and the work performed by the dog must be directly related to its owner's physical or mental disability.
But they do not have to be accredited by any specific organization.
"In Manitoba, there's no regulated scheme to identify and certify service animals," commission executive director Isha Khan has said. "Some provinces have gone that route, but Manitoba has not."
Leonard has long been calling for national standards for service dogs, saying that would eliminate some of the confusion over which animals truly qualify as service dogs.