What is a Service Animal in Newfoundland and Labrador?
A Service Animal is an animal trained to:
- provide assistance to a person with a disability
- used by a person with a disability
What is a Disability?
Under the Human Rights Act, 2010, a disability means a degree of physical disability, a condition of mental impairment or developmental disability, a learning disability and a mental disorder.
- Visual impairment
- Mobility Restriction
- Learning Disability
- Disabilities may be visible, or invisible
A doctor’s Note may be Required
People who use Service Animals may be required to provide a letter from a physician, a nurse or other healthcare professional, confirming that they require the service animal for reasons relating to their disability
Some people carry a doctor or nurse’s notes with them at all times and show it even without being asked, when needed. When a person has an obvious, visible disability, and for which the service animal is required, then no further proof is necessary.
Public Access Rights for People with Service Animals
In Newfoundland and Labrador, people who use Service Animals are protected under the law. Where members of the public are normally permitted or invited, people with Service Animals are also permitted and invited to attend or participate with their Service Animals.
Discrimination against people living with a disability and who use a Service Animal is not tolerated. This includes accommodations, services and facilities where members of the public are normally invited or admitted.
Extra fees must never be charged to a person with a disability who is using a Service Animal, merely due to the presence of the animal.
Service Animals and their Rights to Housing
Denying a person with a disability the right to housing, including occupancy of a commercial unit or self-contained dwelling unit, is not tolerated. People with Service Dogs have fair and equal access to housing options.
Leases and agreements which include a restriction or prohibition against dogs or animals, does not apply to people with disabilities who are using a Service Animal.
Extra Fees Must Not be Charged
People who are living with a disability must not be charged a fee because of their Service Animal. This includes the right of admission or enjoyment of an accommodation, service, or facility in which the regular public population is normally invited or permitted to attend or participate.
(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine of not more than $500 or to imprisonment for not more than 30 days or to both a fine and imprisonment; and
(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than $1,000.
What Can You Ask a Person With a Service Animal?
Sometimes, it’s obvious that a person needs a Service Animal for their disability. A Service Animal may be certified and fully trained, and their owner may readily provide the appropriate documentation to support their case.
Other times, the purpose of a service animal is not as obvious. In that case, you may ask the following questions:
- Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
It is inappropriate to inquire about someone’s disability, or ask that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task
What is the difference between a service animal and a pet?
A service animal:
- is trained to assist someone with a disability
- is different from a pet in that they are working to assist the disabled person
- The animal works or performs a task for a person with a disability that relates specifically to the person’s disability
‘No Pet’ Policies and Service Animals
Service Animals are not pets. Therefore, “No pet” policies should not be broadly written or applied to include service animals. Hotel or motel operators need to consider the situations in which they may require a damage deposit or charge an additional cleaning fee to patrons with pets. It is against human rights law to require someone with a service animal to pay extra for the service animal to be with them.