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Service Animals in Ontario 

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Service animals are not pets, they are considered working animals. The customer service standard requires that you ensure that a person is permitted to be accompanied by his or her service animal in the areas of their premises that are open to the public or third parties unless excluded by law, for example, the Health Protection and Promotion Act or the Food Safety and Quality Act.

Under the standard, an animal is a service animal if:
• it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability, or
• the person has a letter from a physician or nurse verifying that the animal is required for reasons relating to his or her disability.

If it is not obvious that the animal is a service animal, a provider is not required to allow the animal on the premises if the person does not have a letter from a physician or nurse, or an identification card from the Ministry of the Attorney General. It is important to note that the person is responsible for the animal and should ensure that it behaves in an appropriate manner.

Asking For Certification 

Generally service animals, including guide dogs, are identified by a vest or harness.  If there is any question as to whether or not the animal in question is a service animal it is acceptable to ask the owner to see certification papers for the animal. For more information see http://www.accessibletourismwebsite.com/QA.aspx  

Frequently Asked Questions 

In most hotels, there is a policy to accept a deposit for animals, would the same apply for working dogs?  If the hotel already charges for pets, can they charge?  
Service animals are not pets and a deposit should not be charged. 

My question is about allowing guide dogs on a ski lift (and further on the slopes) and how to respond.  This seems like an unsafe situation for the dog, person with the disability and other customers.  Are there any recommendations from the Accessibility Directorate? I have also sent off this question to the TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) for their position on dogs on lifts/ski-snowboard runs.
The customer service standard requires that organizations ensure that a person is permitted to be accompanied by his or service animal in the areas of their premises that are open to the public or third parties. Where the person’s health and safety could be impacted by this requirement, the ski resort should explore other options that may enable the person with a disability to access their services.

The resort should develop policies, practices and procedures to address the requirements of the customer service standard that also take into account the rationale for limiting access and their legal liability for safety. They may wish to consult with their legal counsel to determine if there are any possible contravention issues.
Considerations for protecting health safety should be based on specific factors and not on assumptions of what the person is able or not able to do. 

For example: 

1.  Is there a significant risk to the health and safety of the person with a disability or others (the mere possibility of 
     risk is insufficient)?
2.  Is the risk greater than the risk associated with other customers?
3.  Can the risk be eliminated or reduced by other means?
4.  Is the risk assessment based on considering duration of the risk, nature and severity of the potential harm, the 
     likelihood that the potential harm will occur, and the imminence of the potential harm?
5.  Is the risk assessment based on the individual's actual characteristics, not merely generalizations,                       
     misperceptions, ignorance or fears about a disability

If the animal has to be excluded, the organization must consider the needs of the person if their animal cannot accompany them. They could explain to the individual why the animal needs to be excluded and see what other arrangements could be made to provide them with services. If the person agrees, this might mean leaving the animal in a secure area and asking the person if they might need someone to guide him or her.  

As an organization develops their policies, practices and procedures with respect to service animals, they should consider these types of scenarios and whether alternative measures could be offered if an assessment limits access on health and safety grounds. Staff must be trained on the resort's policies, practices and procedures on serving customers with disabilities to ensure that service and the assessment process is provided in a consistent and accessible manner, and that these policies are communicated to guests. The important thing is to ensure that other measures are explored when a persons’ service animal is excluded. 

If someone who uses a service dog enters my establishment when we are set up with music, dancing and night club atmosphere, how do we ensure the safety of the dog from floor spillage, possible glass on ground and his safety in a crowded environment?

The customer service standard requires that you ensure that a person is permitted to be accompanied by his or her service animal in the areas of your premises that are open to the public or third parties. It does not require that you ensure the safety of the animal.  The person with the disability is responsible for the care and supervision of his or her service animal.

If you are concerned about risks to the animal, you are encouraged to discuss this with your customer to determine the best approach that will best meet the needs of those involved.