National AccessAbility Week to Deliver Educational Campaign about Service Animals

Published on: 2024/05/27 - in Releases

RELEASE — During National AccessAbility Week, May 26 – June 1, the City of Kingston is working with the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) to deliver an educational campaign for community members and businesses about how service animals assist people with disabilities.

Service animals, such as guide dogs, are working animals that can assist people with a range of disabilities. This includes people who are blind or partially sighted and people with seizure disorders, mobility restrictions, post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities.

“We are hoping to broaden the community’s understanding of how service animals can support people with different disabilities,” says Aimee Burtch, MAAC Chair. “Service animals are trained to meet the unique needs of their handler. They can help people maintain their independence and personal safety by protecting them during seizures, alerting them to noises and physical obstacles or calming them if their surroundings are overstimulating.”

These five tips are shared by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind for guide dogs but are good practice to follow with any service animal:

  • Harness on means hands off. Petting can take the service animal’s focus off its owner and increase the potential for injury. Keep in mind that not all service animals wear a vest or harness.
  • Contain your excitement. Don’t encourage excitable play with a service animal. Staying calm is part of its job.
  • Say “hello” another time. Keep your pet away to avoid distracting the service animal and possible harm to the owner.
  • Don’t feed them. Offering food to the animal can result in disruptive behaviours like begging and scavenging.
  • Speak to the person, not the animal. If a service animal approaches you, politely let the owner know so they may correct the animal. For all other interactions, it’s best to let the animal focus on its job.

Follow along on the City’s FacebookXInstagram and LinkedIn to learn more tips during National AccessAbility Week. City Hall will be illuminated in red on Wednesday, May 29 for Red Shirt Day of Action for Accessibility and Inclusion.

Connect with City efforts to improve accessibility in the community:

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Release: City of Kingston