Nova Scotia

Man fights to extend guide dog protection in N.S.

An Alberta man and his dog have come to the Maritimes advocating for the legal protection of people with disabilities using service dogs in Nova Scotia. It's one of the few provinces without specific legislation.

Provincial law protects blind people

More access for man's best friend

NS

8 years agoVideo
2:01
Nova Scotia is one of the few provinces without specific legislation for service dogs. 2:01

An Alberta man and his dog have come to the Maritimes advocating for the legal protection of people with disabilities using service dogs in Nova Scotia. It's one of the few provinces without specific legislation.

John Dignard has a brain injury and said his dog, Eve, is his memory.

"If I go somewhere, I tell the dog to go back and it retracts my scent, smelling the air, smelling the ground and that's how I get back," he said.

When Dignard goes shopping the dog helps him find items he's looking for by tracking the various scents until Dignard can see the objects himself.

In Nova Scotia there's a provincial law that protects blind people who use guide dogs against discrimination. Dignard said he wants the law to cover all people with recognized disabilities.

"That's my independence, there's my freedom. I can't go without my dog," he said.

Service dogs are certified and undergo special training. They are used by a variety of people who use them to navigate life, including people with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and school-aged children with autism.

Schools balance those needs with allergies and other issues in the classroom.

"We don't have any set policy in the department. We let the schools make those decisions based on what's best for the student," said Education Minister Ramona Jennex.

In Dignard's home province of Alberta someone who refuses him access to a public place can be fined $3,000 dollars.

"I want Nova Scotia to have the same or as close to the same law," he said.

Dignard met with Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission on Thursday.

A spokesperson said the commission will meet with government officials later this month about extending the law to include all service dogs.

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