Emotional Support Animals Now Included In Updated Service Animal Policy

According to a new release, the City of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada, has recently reviewed and expanded its Service Animal Policy to include emotional support animals. Per the city management, the decision to do is in line with their commitment to promote inclusiveness and acknowledge the requirement to be able to service people with differing abilities.

This is because previously, transit and most city facilities does not allow animals inside them. However, according to the new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

(AODA), animals should now be welcomed by service provider policies regardless if it’s a service animal or an emotional support animal. Additionally, the Ontario Human Rights Code also plans on including everyone without discrimination just because they’re suffering from a certain condition. To do this, it maintains that everyone should be given a right to equal treatment with respect to services.

Service And Emotional Support Animals

Usually, service animals are adeptly trained to perform specific tasks for the people who own them, such as knowing when to provide medicine or helping someone without good eyesight navigate through everyday life. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, are mostly there to provide companionship, such as helping a person who may possibly be suffering from anxiety when in crowded or cramped places. Because of this, the AODA does not qualify these animals in the same vein as service animals. However, the new regulations allow them to be included and supported under the Human Rights Code, even though they don’t require training at all.

“As we acknowledge that people may have differing levels of ability, the City has revised its policy to provide guidance when rendering services to the public. All facilities that are open to and that serve the public must welcome persons with service animals. They must also allow customers with disabilities to keep their service animals with them anywhere they need to go, except in places where the law excludes the animals,” Brent Lamming, director of community services, said.

Under the new policy, owners are still required to provide either an ID or letter from a healthcare practitioner to prove the animal is required.

Pets Besides humans, pets like cats and dogs are also affected by the pandemic. huoadg5888 / Pixabay