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County steps in after service dog refused entry to Bloomfield B&B

The County of Prince Edward Community Development Department (CDD) and Chamber of Commerce are working together to address a complaint from a visitor who was recently denied accommodation at a local bed and breakfast due to his accompanied service dog.

The Toronto couple made headlines this week sharing the story that they were told a Bloomfield B&B’s no-pet policy extended to service animals.

The B&B owners have stated they would have helped the couple find alternative accommodation if they had known in advance of the dog. They expressed concerns about allergens to future guests.

The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario states that if a bed and breakfast has at least one employee, it must adhere to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which allows service animals in areas open to the public. Refusing service to someone with a service animal also violates Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

Trip Advisor online and Facebook posters have lashed out at the couple. The couple’s lawyer has suggested bed and breakfasts are private homes with limited accommodation for the public and don’t have to adhere to Bill 80 of the Ontario Service Dogs Act – legislation that hasn’t cleared at Queen’s Park.

“The County prides itself on welcoming all visitors,” said Neil Carbone, the County’s Director of Community Development. “We are currently in touch with the visitor who was denied service and are working with him to ensure his next visit is the type of positive and inclusive experience that the County is known for.”

“We were concerned when we learned about this unfortunate incident,” said Emily Cowan, Executive Director, Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce. “This incident has prompted debate in the media about the laws regarding service animals in private residences and has highlighted the need for clarity of regulations.

“We encourage accommodation providers to go above and beyond the legislated requirements to ensure all customers have an outstanding experience in the County,” she added. “But legislative ‘grey areas’ can make it very difficult to navigate the rights of consumers and those of business owners conducting business in private homes.”

While the municipality does not have authority over accommodation regulations, the CDD reached out to the accommodation provider to better understand the circumstances.

“If anything, this situation has highlighted the need for the CDD and Chamber of Commerce to work together to look at ways of avoiding these types of incidents in the future,” said Carbone. “While accessibility requirements are provincially legislated, there may be steps we can take locally to raise awareness of the issues and provide clarity and guidelines for business owners.”

Filed Under: Local News

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