Exempt guide and assistance dog teams from Canadian service animal standards

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Choosing to work with a guide or service dog is a life-altering decision.  These incredible canines help us in ways too numerous to count.  Why then is the Canadian Foundation for Animal-Assisted Support Services trying to impose standards on guide and service dog handlers? Please join Guide Dog Users of Canada (GDUC) in opposing that misguided effort.

 

A previous attempt by the  Canadian Foundation for Animal-Assisted Support Services (CFAS) to force standards on guide and service dog teams was abandoned in 2018, squandering more than $100,000 of tax payers' money, not to mention countless hours of human effort.  The standard was opposed by guide and service dog handlers as well as heavy-weight organizations like the Canadian Human Rights Commission.  Yet, only 3 short years later, CFAS is at it  again, albeit with a different standards development partner, the  Human Research Standards Organization, and 4 standards, instead of one.

 

There is no evidence that guide and service dog teams trained by International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International member schools pose a problem to society.  This is because both organizations already have comprehensive internal standards to ensure that training practices are humane, and that the teams trained by the schools are both safe in, and safe to, the public.  Guide dogs have been used in North America for almost a century, and guide dog training schools have existed in Canada since the 1980's.

 

Standards, which exist to ensure that the things we use every day, like car seats and electrical wiring, are both safe and effective.  Standards were not designed to be applied to humans and their behaviour, in this case people with disabilities who use guide or service dogs.

 

Standards development methodology is neither transparent nor inclusive.  By way of example, standards are developed behind closed doors by groups of experts called technical committees, and members of the public are not permitted to provide feedback on standards until they have actually been developed.  This violates a fundamental principle of advocacy, "nothing about us without us."

 

As a matter of human rights, why are people with disabilities who choose to use guide or service dogs to mitigate aspects of their disabilities, and improve overall quality of life, being separated from the general population and required to accept standards which most of us perceive as unwanted interference and undue regulation of our already challenging lives? Do standards exist to govern how parents raise their children? Certainly not, so how is the situation in which guide and service dog users may eventually find themselves if the standards are allowed to go forward any different?

 



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