Blossom, an 11-week-old lab with her trainer, Cheryl Tradewell, in training to be a service dog with the BC and Alberta Guide Dog Society. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Guide dogs lack social distancing skills, public asked to assist when necessary

Dogs trained to take most efficient route meaning they could jump the line, brush against people

While the public adapts to social distancing as a new norm, BC and Alberta Guide Dogs are reminding people that guide dogs aren’t taught social distancing and to be mindful of this when out and about.

Guide dogs are trained to take their owner on the most efficient route from point A to B, which could lead to them brushing against people or jumping ahead of people in the spaced out line at the grocery store.

READ ALSO: Victoria veteran begs people to please not touch his service dog

“We need assistance here from people who are able to speak up and assist the person with the visual impairment,” said Bill Thornton, CEO of BC and Alberta Guide Dogs. “They’re not trying to take advantage that’s just the way the dogs are taught.”

The pandemic has impacted the organization in other ways too. Training has to take a back seat, with only some classes being moved online through Zoom meetings. Luckily all dogs were already in homes prior to the pandemic meaning the organization didn’t have to scramble to get them out of a kennel.

READ ALSO: Play trivia online to help raise puppies for B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs

“[The pandemic] has affected guide dog owners pretty much the same as the rest of us,” said Thornton. “We’re dealing with capable people, people with a great deal of ability and they’re adapting like the rest of us.”

Thornton said the only concern he’s heard from a person who uses a guide dog is wondering if the virus could be transmitted through the dogs.

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control there have been reports of cats — and a tiger — becoming sick with the virus after being in close contact with an infected person and in Hong Kong, two pet dogs tested positive but did not show any symptoms. BCCDC adds that its unlikely pets can infect people, stating that the virus is spreading from person to person.

Applications to receive a guide dog have also stopped but anyone in need of one can call the organization at 604-940-4504 to have their information taken down to start the process when the pandemic is declared over.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusDisability

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

Just Posted

‘Best of Cloverdale’ contest returns

Voters can cast ballots once a day until Sept. 5; enter to win $250 gift card for Save-On-Foods

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

Surrey Police Board approves creation of municipal force at first-ever meeting

Process for hiring a police chief to ‘start immediately’: McCallum

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

50-year-old time capsule unsealed at Abbotsford International Airport

Capsule sealed by former PM Pierre E. Trudeau in 1970, when event became ‘Canada’s National Airshow’

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

T-Rex earns big bids at B.C. dino auction

Over 500 dino-themed lots sold to buyers from across North America

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Most Read