BC’s Guide Dog and Service Dog Announcement & Impact to SPA

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On December 3rd, Minister Suzanne Anton announced that British Columbia’s new Guide Dog and Service Dog Act will come into force on January 18, 2016. As some of you may know, the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act was passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

We have been informed that corresponding changes to the Strata Property Act will also come into force on January 18, 2016. Strata owners, occupants, tenants and visitors will be able to have their certified guide dog or service dog on strata premises, regardless of tenancy agreements or strata bylaws restricting or banning pets. Owners, occupants and tenants will also be able to keep their certified retired guide dog or service dog with them, including after a new dog has been certified to take over its duties. This serves to acknowledge the bond between a handler and their retired guide dog or service dog.

These changes are intended to protect the rights of individuals who rely on guide dogs or service dogs, while providing clarity to strata corporations. In order to be certified, a guide dog or service dog will need to demonstrate that it meets a high training standard for public safety. Once the new program is in place, efforts will be made to provide certified handlers and trainers with standard provincial identification.

Please note the following:

  • Not all certified guide dogs and service dogs will necessarily be a specific breed or size – the focus of certification is on the dog’s training to support public safety.
  • Protections under the Human Rights Code may still apply to uncertified dog and handler teams – clients may wish to seek legal advice specific to your strata corporation’s situation if there is a concern in this area.

For more information about these changes, please see https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015JAG0296-002012 or visit www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/guideanimal/index.htm.