New B.C. legislation came into effect today, Monday January 18, making the rules stricter for guide dog certification in order to eliminate fake service animals.
The Guide Dog and Service Dog Certification Act requires pet owners to have specific training standards from a certified school, along with an identification card and a medical confirmation form completed by a doctor.
The schools must be accredited by the Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation.
Harsher punishments are also in effect as part of the new legislation. Punishments can include the following:
- Verbal or written warning
- Violation ticket issued
- Application for an injunction or prosecution
“I think we’ve ended up with a really good, common-sense act that will benefit not only the service dogs and service dog teams, but also I think it’s enhanced the public’s trust, which is really important,” William Thornton with BC Guide Dogs told Vancity Buzz.
Thornton said while the Service Dog Act needed to be updated anyway – it was more than 20 years old – he said we do have a problem with fake service dogs in the province and the new legislation will help to prevent that.
“That is an issue and that really is a big problem with the advent of the internet because people can very readily and very cheaply acquire completely false I.D. cards and also equipment to put on dogs,” Thornton said.
He adds the new legislation offers stricter fines as well – up to $3000, in fact.