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Service Animals: The Right to Access Public Services and Facilities

January 5, 2018

Are you a manager or business owner?

Did you know that a person who relies on a trained service animal has the same right to access public services and facilities with their animal as any other person?

What’s more, it is a violation of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code for service providers to discriminate against a customer or patron because that person relies on a said service animal for a mental and/or physical disability.

There are different types of service animals that help people with various types of disabilities. People who are vision impaired may require the use of a guide dog. Hearing alert animals help people with hearing loss. Other service animals are trained to alert a person to an oncoming seizure or to support people with autism, psychiatric disabilities, and other physical disabilities.

Service animals:
  • provide services for persons with disabilities,
  • they are not considered pets and,
  • cannot be regulated as pets.

Any business that serves the public — such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, etc. — must permit service animals into areas in which customers are typically allowed. Denying access to a person who relies on a service animal may be discriminatory.

To prevent this from happening, it is important for managers and business owners to understand their obligations under the Code to accommodate persons with disabilities who require service animals. It is equally important to ensure all employees are aware of these obligations and that they are properly trained to handle customers with a service animal in an appropriate and respectful manner.

A good start would be to read the policy on service animals — more information here — and pass the information on to your staff.