Source: CTV News Winnipeg (Extract)
Posted: September 20, 2023

September is Guide Dog Access Awareness Month, and it’s important for Manitobans to remember there are certain etiquette, rules, and protections that need to be followed when it comes to these service animals.

On Tuesday, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and Uber Canada held an event to educate Manitobans about guide dog etiquette, the rights of guide dog handlers and guide dog denials.

“We’re trying to educate the public, so people do know the laws and rules,” said Tracy Garbutt, who works with CNIB.

“This is a great opportunity to educate and make people aware that guide dog denial is against the law and we’re allowed to go everywhere.”

One of the topics covered at Tuesday’s event was guide dog denial in ride-sharing services.

According to Uber, there were 82 reports of ride refusals due to service animals in 2022, which goes against the company’s zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.

“When you’re trying to travel somewhere the last thing you want to do is not get a ride and be late for an appointment,” Garbutt said.

“It can be really stressful waiting for a cab or an Uber and then you get denied.”

CNIB also offers the following guide dog etiquette tips:

  • Don’t pet or feed a service animal if it has a vest on. When a guide dog is wearing a harness, it means it is working and shouldn’t be distracted;

  • Keep your cool around guide dogs and don’t encourage excitable play. Guide dogs are given access to spaces where other dogs are not permitted, so they need to remain calm;

  • Speak directly to the handler and don’t greet service animals as it can be distracting.

“It’s really important to ask if they can pet, things like that,” Garbutt said.

“You don’t want to try to feed, or interact, even looking at the dog can be distracting for some, but the key thing is basically making sure that you don’t try to pet (the dog), because it can be very dangerous for the handler as well.”