A disabled man from Vancouver Island testified at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal today that he and his guide dog were unfairly discriminated against when they were kicked out of a local supermarket.
Peter Cluff, 64, has diabetes and chronic pain that confines him to a wheelchair. He says his certified guide dog, Spud, serves as a lifeline — helping him when he goes shopping and keeping him safe when he has seizures.
In May 2012, Cluff was getting coffee at Village Food Markets in Sooke when he says the store manager told him and Spud to leave. He says the manager told him Spud was not a working assistance dog.
Cluff showed the manager the dog's certification card, but was asked to leave anyway.
"The people were rude, ignorant, harassing, you know, the whole bit. And I'm going no, no more," says Cluff.
Cluff filed a human rights complaint claiming the store discriminated against him based on his physical and mental disabilities.
The store managers and their lawyers say this is simply not the case. In a written response to the complaint, they say the dog was unmarked, off-leash and lying in the middle of a high-traffic area where other customers could trip over it.
They also claim Cluff shopped at the store before and after the incident without the dog's assistance.
The tribunal was shown video shot by one of the managers showing Cluff in the store months later without Spud.
The managers say Cluff was never banned from the property — only asked to take his dog outside.
Cluff says he filed the complaint to educate people about guide dogs.
"Educating people why we have a dog, and what is the reason for having a dog, and also what the dog can do," says Cluff.
The hearing will continue in Victoria.