Dear <MP Name>:
Re: Draft Service Dog Standards Now Before the Canadian General Standards Board
I am writing to you as a concerned citizen with a vision-related disability and as a guide dog user.
Several years ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs requested that training standards be implemented before they allocated $75,000 towards lifetime training and care for each service dog provided to our Canadian veterans.
Public Works Canada, through the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) formed a committee that has now drafted standards not just for veterans’ dogs, but standards to be applied to every service dog and guide dog in Canada.
In reviewing the draft standards, it is obvious that the CGSB has completely ignored the existing standards followed in over 40 countries, including Canada, as written by the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF). These excellent standards are followed and committed to by 93 guide dog schools in 32 countries.
Further, rather than ensuring that any proposed standards were consistent with current human rights legislation, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the CGSB has drafted standards that are completely contrary to any of them.
It should also be noted that Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities, is currently drafting a Canadians with Disabilities Act, which will certainly take into account all the documents mentioned above.
If guide dog users do not get an exemption from these draft standards, for our dogs from schools here, the USA, and elsewhere, we will be subject to regulations that degrade us, demean us, and take away our basic human rights as citizens of Canada.
Here are some examples drawn from the draft standards, which are very long and very, very detailed:
- Our guide dogs would, regardless of which IGDF-compliant school they’re from, have to be retested by government inspectors.
- Inspectors would have the right to visit our homes at any time, demand financial records, obtain veterinarians’ records, etc.
- Our guide dogs would be required to perform obedience drills out of harness and off-leash – things that they are simply never expected to do.
- We would also be required to carry an identification kit containing a photograph, full name, address, name of the guide dog school, and other personal information to be presented on demand to members of the public to prove the dog’s certification.
To see what a coalition of guide dog users across Canada are saying about this travesty, please visit our blog at, http://HandsOffOurHarnesses.WordPress.com.
You can also follow us on Twitter with the hashtags, #HOOH or #IGDFFreeChoice.
We also have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/handsoffourharnesses/
I am asking you, as my Member of Parliament, to support me and all vision-impaired people in Canada, by making your voice heard to:
a) ask that all guide dogs from IGDF-compliant schools be exempted from the draft standards now under consideration by the CGSB; or,
b) simply see that the entire draft standard is scrapped.