Paralympic rowers refuse hotel reservations due to guide dogs

A Canadian Paralympic rower said that her family was denied service at a hotel on Vancouver Island because of her guide dog.

Victoria Nolan has not seen her family for several months-she has been training for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in Victoria, while her family stayed at home in Toronto, unable to visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before she leaves for Tokyo, Nolan’s family plans to visit her and head to a beach hotel for a short vacation. Her husband Eamonn Nolan tried to book a room for the couple, his daughter and Nolan’s guide dog in Ucluelet, British Columbia.

Nolan said that her 9-year-old black laboratory Allen helped her stay safe and calm because she sailed the world without eyesight.

“When I was under pressure, he really calmed me down. He was an excellent guide,” Nolan said.

Victoria Nolan (left) with her daughter and guide dog Allen. (Submitted by Eamonn Nolan)

But the hotel they tried to book refused the family’s option to bring a dog. They said the owner had severe allergies.

Once they realized their mistake, the hotel staff apologized and provided a room for the family, but the Nolan family no longer wanted to stay there.

According to the law, anyone with a guide dog must be allowed to enter any place without a guide dog.

“This [hotel] We fully support the right of blind people to be accompanied by specially trained guide dogs in all public places,” the hotel owner said in a written statement to CBC News.

“Initially, due to the misunderstanding of our new employee, Mr. Nolan was provided with incorrect information.

“We are a small business and we are proud to provide our guests with transcendence and transcendence. We will never deliberately refuse anyone’s accommodation.”

Nolan, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games, said this is far from the first time she has fought for the right of her guide dog to be by her side. She said that this situation has happened many times and she has lost her way.

“Restaurants, taxis, hotels, grocery stores, medical facilities-honestly, the list goes on,” she said.

She said she always tried to explain the law to employees, but it usually didn’t work. Nolan has filed a human rights complaint, a complaint under the BC Guidelines and the Service Dog Act, and a police report.

“When this happens, there are many feelings,” she said.

“It’s frustrating that in this day and age, people don’t know this law. It shocks me. There is a feeling of…humiliation, like you are told that you are not welcome, you are alone It is acceptable to classify as unpopular.

“I don’t know if I want to bother to try some places, because I don’t want to keep doing this.”

Nolan said she plans to take legal action against the hotel.

Guide Dog Guide for BC

Guide dogs are defined as dogs trained to guide the visually impaired, while service dogs are trained to help people with any disability complete specific tasks. Both require certification.

BC’s Guide Dogs and Service Dogs Act stipulates that people with guide dogs, service dogs or training dogs can enter any public places, accommodations, buildings or public transportation or service dogs like people who do not use guide dogs. The premise is that the dog is tied to a leash or harness and does not occupy a seat on public transportation or where food is provided to the public.

Victoria Nolan’s guide dog Ellen, a nine-year-old black laboratory. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

In addition, individuals or businesses cannot charge fees for dogs.

Anyone who violates these laws can face fines of up to $3,000.

Attorney Victoria Shroff said she is disappointed that some people still don’t understand the laws regarding guide dogs and service dogs, because for decades, the human rights code has included language about discrimination based on ability.

“I’m really disappointed to hear that things like this are still happening in this day and age,” she said.

“Frankly, it sounds like something from the dark ages.”

Shroff has worked in animal law in British Columbia for more than 20 years. She said that although she thanked the hotel for an apology, it was not enough.

“It’s not just the inconvenience that happened, there are many more,” she said.

“You may lose your dignity. You may feel ashamed, there may be different emotions and other ways of suffering people suffer, and the apology does not cover it.”

She recommends that anyone encountering this situation seek legal counsel through a lawyer or a free legal clinic.

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