Alberta businesses getting behind service dogs with new decal campaign

Calgary Herald | RYAN RUMBOLT

The province has launched a new campaign for businesses to show their support of service dogs and their owners. Alberta businesses, schools and workplaces will be able to let four-legged helpers and their two-legged friends know they are welcome in those establishments by putting new service dog decals in their windows.

The program is being led by the ministry of community and social services to raise awareness about the public access rights of service dogs and their owners while promoting inclusion of people with disabilities.

“In Alberta, people with disabilities have the right to bring their qualified service dogs into any public place,” the ministry said in a statement. “Certified dog trainers from a qualified organization also have the right to access public places while training a service dog.”

The province says its new service dog decal program is aimed at raising awareness of service dog public access rights while promoting inclusion of people with disabilities.CALGARY. Refusing public access to people with a qualified service dog can net you a $3,000 fine. Melissa MacDonald is the mother of a child who relies on a service dog. She says their helping pooch Ebony has given her daughter Jaelyn “confidence and ability to cope.”

“Ebony has made it possible for Jaelyn to attend school full-time,” MacDonald said. “She is a rock who is always there for her, even when times are tough.”

Irfan Sabir, minister of community and social services, says the decal campaign will help promote inclusion.

For years, service dogs have been opening opportunities for people with disabilities, and now Alberta is opening the door for them.

“Albertans with disabilities should have access to the supports they need,” Sabir said in a statement.

“For years, service dogs have been opening opportunities for people with disabilities, and now Alberta is opening the door for them. When businesses display the service dog decal we help remove barriers and support inclusion.”

Service dogs can help people with a number of conditions — like epilepsy, PTSD or mobility limitations — while guide dogs are specially trained to assist the blind or visually impaired. For guide dogs and service dogs to be qualified they must be trained at one of eight approved service dog organizations in the province.

Changes to service dog regulations last year set provincial standards for the animal assistants and improved access for organizations to become service dog qualified. These changes also increased the ability of owner-trained dogs to become qualified service dogs, the province said. Nearly 60 new service dogs have been qualified in Alberta since January, while only 20 certified service dogs were graduated each year under previous rules. Most of those service or guide dogs were owner-trained dogs that passed assessments, the province said.

To request a service dog decal for your business contact the Alberta service dog team at 780-427-9136 or toll-free at 310-0000.