Allow People With Brain Injury To Have Service Dogs
Allow People With Brain Injury To Have Service Dogs
Why this petition matters
We, the survivors or warriors of Acquired Brain Injury in Canada can have “emotional support animals”… if we can also pay the fee to register them, pay out of pocket to train them and even pay to “dress them” (my puppy hates wearing clothing!!!)… what about those who cannot afford a service, dog but would gain security and have confidence in their independent function with a service dog?
It is not acceptable for the laws in our country and in the province of Ontario to negate our need for physical support. It is not only a matter of being emotionally stable and feeling comfortable in public, as much as it is the security to roam freely and do so at our own convenience.
As a single mother of two daughters, I have declined trick-or-treating and travelling, based on a fear that due to my disability and my gender (not to mention my weak physique and small stature) that I may be harmed or may not be able to protect my children from threat…
However with a trained dog who can be by my side, I could travel out of country (without a support worker or other knowledgeable adult).
People will just take one look at a full grown Pitweiler like Oreo and decide not to get into my personal space. It feels freeing to know I will have a strong, healthy and loyal friend to go with me & my girls, wherever we go!
The right to train a service dog should be a given, yet here I am, fighting with retail store management to “let my dog shop with me”!
It is an atrocious policy that stops me from obtaining my necessary items, simply because my puppy is “sleeping in a shopping cart”… and she had not yet received official emotional support dog training when I was kicked out of the Welland Walmart store. She wasn’t even old enough to have her rabies vaccination… She was less than 4 months old at the time… how could she cause any trouble?
And I get all the excuses: “allergies”, “we sell food”, “people will complain they can’t bring their dog into the store”… that is not my issue. Are they the ones who are paying to train/ socialize/ attempting to acquaint an animal that is intended to be a working animal to be out in public? I rest my case!
I was about to pay for my item at the 7-11 in Welland, when the cashier kicked me out. The company’s management apologized and they have assured me with documentation it will not happen again. I also asked them to train their staff to be considerate to ask people if they may need a support/ service animal if they need to ask, so that people are not turned away from being served in the future.
At the Giant Tiger on Fitch Street in Welland, I was harassed by management (as I did not have papers). A Pen Centre St. Catharines security guard stopped me, to tell me that I need “written proof” of my service dog to continue to bring my dog there. It is just plain rude to discount a person based on not having documentation. How will the dog learn to be in public, if we cannot practice in public places?
Although our intellectual disability is not visible to others, people with Acquired Brain Injury “do not qualify” for a “service dog”, unlike a person who has an obvious (physical) disability or even a person with a cognitive condition such as autism does... Why is it even debatable? These are people with an intellectual disability, who do not need to be specifically labelled to be accommodated…
I think it is discrimination to have legislation which only supports diagnosed cognitive conditions and not brain injury/ traumatically sustained injury (that have THE SAME level of impact on a person as though they were born with the impairment)! Who even cares, really?
An impaired person is an impaired person, regardless of which type of impairment they manage and regardless of their condition.
There is a “distinction” required, for one to be supported by a service dog (which in itself is discriminatory). Do businesses have the right to know the nature of someone’s disability? Then why does our government exclude brain injury as a qualifier for having a service dog?
How is this discrepancy acceptable to the people of Canada? How can you justify it?
Be the change you want to see…
Please fight with me, to allow people who have any type of brain injury to be qualified for a service dog. Not just an “emotional support dog”, but a dog that will be by a person’s side to help them to be more capable of daily life.
We all want to be self-sufficient people, as we manage our brain injury (much like the people with physical disabilities who are enabled to be supported by a service dog). Where is our right to security and peace in our journies, to become productive members of society?
We the survivors or warriors of ABI and we are deserving of the same treatment that persons with any other type of diagnosed cognitive disability are… Standardize the service to all of the disabled people, without having to slap a label on what is wrong with each individual. Include acquired brain injury in legislature. Spread awareness of brain injury. Make it as serious as a heart condition is to the world…
And another thing…
Why hasn’t this happened yet?
Make it possible for a person to get a service dog without the need to check a box off to show the disability is the right kind to qualify!
Help me make this message clear:
Ability is ability. It looks different for all of us, yet our rights to live independent lives need to be equal for all people (and not just based on how we’re individually affected by these often severe impairments). How can the government decide that brain injury is “not qualified”… that it just doesn’t count as a real problem for us?
Let’s make this right together, for all of us who are living with brain injury... May we feel safe.
Include us to be able to train and to own a service dog… and make it a human right.