Welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador Animal Laws in
The following guidelines are not necessarily the law. These guidelines reflect the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission’s interpretation of the provisions of:
In 2012 the Service Animal Act became law in Newfoundland and Labrador. Before that, the Blind Persons’ Rights Act had provided rights to visually impaired people who needed the help of a guide dog.
The updated legislation has expanded the variety of animals that are recognized as “service animals” in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition, it has broadened the types of disabilities that are covered.
Service animals are used by various types of people with different disabilities. A few examples are autism, epilepsy, vision impairment, brain injury, hearing loss and various types of mental illness or conditions.
The Service Animals Act recognizes that people who live with disabilities are not just visually impaired. The Act prohibits discrimination against people with various types of disabilities. It protects people with disabilities in the areas of accommodations, services and facilities.
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The Act removes barriers for people with disabilities who are using a service dog to places like:
- Other services
To be provided the protections under the Service Animal Act, someone must be a “person with a disability,” or “a person who has a degree of disability and is dependent upon a service animal.”
A Service Animal:
- Provides assistance to a person with a disability
- Is 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.
An employer, service provider, or landlord claiming that it would be an undue hardship to accommodate the needs of someone with a service dog must be able to demonstrate the undue hardship through actual evidence.
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.
- 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
- 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.
What Animals Can Be Service Animals?
The Service Animal Act of Newfoundland and Labrador provides the following definition for service animals:
“service animal” means an animal trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability and having the qualifications prescribed by the regulations and used by a person with a disability
(i) where it is readily apparent that the service animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability, or
(ii) where the person provides a letter from a physician, a nurse or those persons or categories of persons prescribed in the regulations confirming that the person requires the service animal for reasons relating to the disability.
So, an animal can be considered a “service animal” under the Service Animal Act if:
- It is trained to provide assistance to a person with a physical or mental disability
- And it is readily apparent that the person requires the use of the service animal or the use is prescribed by a physician or nurse
These are not the most robust service animal “laws” I have ever seen, but at least it’s something. Several provinces in Canada do not have a lot of official service animal laws, and so relying on the sometimes vague interpretations of the Human Rights Code is a reality.
Hopefully Newfoundland and Labrador will create some more laws in the future so that people with disabilities won’t have to worry about public access rights, rights in housing, and other rights when living life with their service animal.
Newfoundland & Labrador Human Rights Commission
If you feel you have been discriminated against, need help or more information, you can contact the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission.
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL
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