New policy on service dogs at Garrison Petawawa

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017

Following a new directive, Garrison Petawawa will be instating a new policy on service dogs.

The Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) on service dogs clearly define the approach military bases must take with these animals and their handlers. The Government of Canada has officially declared that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has a duty to accommodate those who require a service dog. “We want to apply that policy in a fair manner to accommodate those service members who are ill and injured who would gain a benefit from having a service dog,” said 4th Canadian Division Support Base (4 CDSB) Personnel Services Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Darcy Wright.

The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be unveiled at the Garrison in the near future; the various chains of command, the medical community, workplace safety and all the various stakeholders will be consulted to ensure the policy is well suited to everyone. “We don’t want the spirit of the DAOD violated so it will take a little bit of time to do the consultations so that we can meet all situations,” said LCol Wright.

Service dogs, emotional comfort animals, and therapy animals are all very different. Only the former will be covered under the new policy, as these certified animals must undergo rigorous and comprehensive training to assist an individual with their daily needs. “You have to have that recommendation from a medical practitioner saying that having that service dog will help whatever that situation it is that you have,” said LCol Wright. “And another key aspect is that you have to have a certified service dog from a certified service dog agency that actually is a trained animal.”

As such, online certifications for personal pets are not accepted.

For the animals’ welfare, there will also be some common sense limitations. The dogs will not be brought into any situation that may cause distress or risk the health and safety of others. “If somebody is a Range Warden, you probably won’t see that animal there because it would not be the best place for the animal when there is live firing,” said LCol Wright, “but if they work in an office situation, then they will be fine.”

There is already a policy in place for Garrison housing. Animals are allowed in Residential Housing Units and medically necessary, certified service dogs will also be allowed in the singles’ quarters. LCol Wright’s team is currently working on developing a specific area for the animals to be placed that will be the most comfortable for all involved. “We want to help the member but we also want to be cognizant of the animal,” said LCol Wright. “We want the animal to live in the best conditions that it can live in.”

The policy will cover every member of the Defence Team and more details will be released when the policy is fully developed.