Advocacy

City of Toronto Bylaw 201-2017 - a Ban on Choke and Pronged Dog Collars

The following is the text of a letter we sent to the Toronto City Clerk's Office, as well as Mr. John Tory, that city's Mayor. It was also provided to several media contacts.

Guide Dog Users of Canada is writing to suggest that bylaw 201-2017, City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 349, Animals, Section 8.1 be amended to exempt owners of service animals. It is our understanding that Tracey Cooke, Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards for the city, will issue a written note, and a motion to City Council on March 29, to provide an exemption to the above section for guide dog handlers using a metal training collar. GDUC whole-heartedly lends its support to this initiative.

Founded in 1999, GDUC is an organization of people who are either partnered with, or interested in the work of dogs who guide those who are blind, deaf-blind, or partially sighted. We are not in the business of training either dogs or people. We are, however, very concerned about providing a forum for peer support for guide dog users, and educating the general public about the need for accessibility in every sense, including attitudinally.

For further information about Guide Dog Users of Canada, we cordially invite you to visit our website, http://gduc.ca.

Quite a number of Torontonians are partnered with guide dogs. In addition, many guide dog users from across the province, and indeed from across the country travel through and around Toronto on an almost daily basis. In an effort to head off any future confusion, we propose the above amendment, and further suggest that terms such as choke collars, pronged collars, and martingale collars be defined in order to insure that everyone is perfectly clear as to the type of dog equipment that is being referred to.

The production of guide dogs is both a serious and scientific business. The almost 20 guide dog training schools across North America, 5 of which are in Canada, all demonstrate unswerving commitments to train the best possible guide dogs, who will eventually be partnered with persons living with vision loss. The schools put considerable thought into their choices of collars and such, and train their students on the safe and effective use of that equipment. Consequently, a choke or pronged collar in the hands of a properly trained individual does not represent a threat to a guide dog.

All schools teach their students precisely when and how to use the provided collar and leash to administer what is known as a correction. A correction is the act of refocusing the guide dog’s attention on its handler, and is used to re-establish the safe and smooth functioning of the team. Correction techniques vary according to the dog’s level of inattentiveness. Sniffing, being distracted by another dog, and failing to stop at a curb are typical examples of situations which warrant corrections. Even more important is the fact that when the correction results in a return to the desired behaviour, the dog is rewarded, most often with praise.

Students are also made aware that corrections can sometimes be viewed as cruel by members of the public, and are encouraged to counteract those perceptions through public education.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at guidedogs@gduc.ca.

We thank you for considering our submission.

Ratings and Comments

This post has not yet been rated.

Rate and Comment


Information About The CTA For Making Complaints About Air, Rail Or Some Ferry Or Bus Travel

The Canadian Transportation Agency, CTA, handles complaints from travelers with disabilities if they did not receive their requested accommodations. The Agency is not involved with transportation that is municipal, provincial or private in nature.

Many people who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted expect a degree of assistance to go from the airline check-in counter to security and then onto the gate area to wait. Help to board the plane and find a seat is also often requested.

We expect that if we travel with a guide dog the dog will have adequate room to be comfortable during the trip.

The contact information for CTA is below:

Please use the CTA's Complaint Wizard to register a complaint.

Supplemental Information

The Canadian Transportation Agency, 1996, replaced the National Transportation Agency of Canada and is responsible for the economic regulation of carriers and modes of TRANSPORTATION under federal jurisdiction. That Agency, in turn, replaced the Canadian Transport Commission, which existed for 20 years under the previous National Transportation Act, 1967. The Agency is an administrative and quasi-judicial body, and has all the powers, rights and privileges of a superior court in Canada with respect to matters within its jurisdiction. The Agency's purview includes the issuance of licenses to air carriers and railways, dispute-resolution power over various air, rail and marine transportation rate and service matters, the determination of the annual maximum rate for western grain movements and the removal of undue obstacles to travelers with disabilities. The CTA has a chair, vice-chair, up to 5 full-time members and 3 part-time members. It has a Rail and Marine Transportation and Air and Accessible Transportation Branch as well as 2 other branches giving administrative support and legal and communication services.

Ratings and Comments

This post has not yet been rated.

Rate and Comment


Guide/Assistance Dog Access Legislation By Province/Territory

Read Post


Advocacy

Advocacy is defined as public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.

GDUC's Advocacy Committee will support guide dog handlers when they are having problems accessing transportation, retail businesses, and other public venues. We are able to provide advice and guidance as to how to deal with an access refusal. We can also direct the individual to appropriate provincial or territorial legislation to assist them in fighting for their rights.

When larger or systemic issues come to light, the committee sets forth to find a solution. By way of example, in 2013 a resolution was accepted for the creation of a committee to deal with fake service dogs.

Over recent years dogs have been trained to assist people in many ways. Dogs can detect seizures, low blood sugar levels, heart attacks, emotional distress, and help those with psychiatric illnesses. This explosion of canines being able to help humans has led to unscrupulous dog owners who feel their pets should be allowed in public places.

Unfortunately, the internet allows easy access to equipment and identification for dog owners who want to masquerade their pets as guides or other service dogs. These canines often lack proper training and are in need of a thorough grooming.

When these dog owners bring their pets into public venues, and the animals do not behave appropriately, the public obtains a poor impression of service dogs. When a legitimate guide enters their establishments, business owners may refuse the guide because of past experience.

The fake service dog problem is a difficult one to manage. Although there is legislation in place throughout North America to protect legitimate guides, it does not prevent frauds. While GDUC acknowledges the need to lobby our parliamentary representatives, this issue needs to be dealt with on several levels.

Schools that train guide dogs are gradually coming to recognise the problem. At our 2014 conference in Toronto, a lively panel discussion, featuring input from 3 guide dog school representatives, was held on this thorny issue. Listen to the Discussion.

GDUC encourages its members to lead by example by ensuring that their guides are always well behaved and clean. We recommend that handlers always carry their official guide dog identification cards and be prepared to show them when asked. We further believe that education is an important component in combatting this growing problem. Please Contact Our Advocacy Committee if you would like a member of GDUC to provide you or your organization with more information.

There are times when advocacy can be said to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Proactive advocacy involves adopting a position on a topic before a problem occurs. This is the primary reason why GDUC participates in the Consumer Access Group, CAG, a CNIB lead coalition of vision disability focused organizations.

Ratings and Comments

This post has not yet been rated.

Rate and Comment