Friday, September 7, 2012

San Francisco to Vancouver – Service Dog Rules for Canada

We are planning our next trip with Asta, my mom’s service dog!  This one is on the Regent Seven Seas sailing out of San Francisco to Alaska, and disembarking in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  We booked directly with Regent Seven Seas, and I have to say the booking agent, Mark Langley, was outstanding.  It was truly a pleasure to work with him, and have him take the laboring oar in getting Asta cleared to board with us. 

The clearance to get on the ship is virtually identical to that of Princess and Cunard.  You will need to sign a letter acknowledging that only qualified service dogs are allowed on board, and that certain documentation (such as a doctor’s note and proof of vaccinations) need to be provided.  See my earlier blogpost for details: Health Certificates and Other Required Documentation.

Having survived the drama of getting clearance for Asta to disembark in Hawaii, I peppered our agent with questions on how we can disembark in Vancouver (and fly home).  We both called around, and long story short, a registered service dog in the United States does not face barriers to entry in Canada.  No special documentation is required, other than proof that the dog is an official service dog.  It is against the law and against Human Rights Code for anyone to refuse you. Click here for a service dog website, not a government website, but the law quoted is British Columbia Law. It appears at first to be about guide dogs, but if you read, you will see it includes dogs for other disabilities as well, a.k.a. service dogs.

Note that official service dogs are welcome.  That means that you have proper certification from an authority that requires proof that you need your dog for medical reasons.  Asta is officially registered with the State of California as an Assistance Dog, for example.  See my earlier blogpost for proper certification.  Note that you can purchase “service dog” ID tags over the web without proof.  These are not sufficient in Canada to prove your dog is a service dog.  (I do note that these tags can be helpful as easily visible indications that your dog is indeed a service dog, but you should have an official certification, too.  See my earlier blogpost on Identification.)

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