Georgia Pike and service dog Grainger live on campus at the University of Victoria. Things go smoothly at school, but when the pair head off campus Pike is constantly asked for ID. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

B.C. woman tired of having to prove she is blind

Georgia Pike is constantly asked for ID when she’s out with her service dog

A Victoria woman is tired of being reminded that she lives with a disability.

Georgia Pike and her seeing eye dog, a black Labrador retriever named Grainger, are frequently asked for identification and papers to prove that Grainger is a ‘real service dog.’

Pike, a fourth year psychology student at the University of Victoria, said she’s asked for ID at least once every time she leaves campus, and is sometimes carded two to three times per trip.

“It’s really upsetting. It’s demoralizing. It’s reminding me constantly that I am a person with a disability and that I have to prove it to someone in order to go grocery shopping or go to the mall or go to the rec centre,” Pike said. “Some people say, ‘oh it’s just like showing ID when you go to a bar.’ But it’s not, because everybody has to show ID [at a bar].”

Pike lost her vision suddenly in 2014 after experiencing a stroke. She knew right away that she wanted a service dog, but first had to learn how to get around independently with only a cane.

Eight months later, Pike got Grainger from the Seeing Eye, a New Jersey-based philanthropic service dog organization.

Grainger had gone through four months of guide dog training, and spent another three and half weeks training with Pike.

“A service dog is trained to do something. And is well trained to do that thing,” Pike explained. “When I’m working with Grainger, I’m always talking to him and telling him directions because he listens to me… he’s always focused, so he’s not sniffing, he’s not licking, he’s not barking, he’s very calm. I give him hand signals.”

But Pike said there is a widespread lack of knowledge around what a real service dog looks and acts like. She says education is vital if society is going to stop treating people with service animals differently.

“What it comes down to is, a dog is not bothering anyone, is clearly doing a task. and that is the easiest way to spot a service dog.”

RELATED: Vancouver Island service dogs helping veterans deal with PTSD

RELATED: Curbs buried in snow create problems for Victoria’s vision-impaired

While B.C. provides certificates certifying guide dogs, Pike said asking for ID or papers has almost no purpose, since there is no one standard in service animal IDs – and the documents could be easily replicated.

“There’s absolutely no trust and nobody knows what they’re looking for,” she said. “I could hand them anything and they would be OK with it. I could hand them a fake doctor’s note, I could hand them a fake ID, I could hand them anything.”

He’s a hard worker, but Grainger is also a pretty adventurous pup. He and handler Georgia Pike go nearly everywhere together, including Joshua Tree National Park. (Facebook/ Grainger the Seeing Eye Dog)

A shift in law surrounding service dogs in B.C. could be partially to blame, Pike said.

In 2015, B.C.’s Guide Dog and Service Dog Act was revised to include a clause about false representation, kick-starting a narrative of ‘cracking down’ on fake service dogs.

And Pike said attitudes have shifted – to the point where she was asked for ID four times at the ferry terminal in Vancouver before she had even boarded.

“People look at Grainger and say, ‘did you get that harness online?’” she said. “People who are doing those things, don’t realize what a negative impact they’re having on people who actually have trained service dogs.

“This is why we’re getting carded, this is why people are seeking us out and disrupting our days. Initially, blind people have always been fighting for the right to get their dog in a place… now you have to prove that you have the right to be here.”

RELATED: Cental Saanich veteran finds calling as a service dog trainer

RELATED: Victoria installation for the blind causes problems for those with mobility issues



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Timberwolves seek fresh lacrosse recruits

New season of the ‘fastest game on two feet’ begins this spring

Missing the Bus: Transit planners trying to fix overcrowding

Part two in a series looking at transit issues in the west Kootenay.

UPDATED: Nakusp to use New Denver playbook to attract doctors to town

Clarification on doctor’s shortage from local clinic manager

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Most Read