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mom2

Dog at the ballet

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Yesterday as I was in the lobby at the Four Seasons waiting for the doors to open, I noticed someone with a dog.  This was certainly unusual, so I took a closer look.  The dog had a vest on which said "Guide dog in Training."  Now I know these dogs need to be acclimated to all kinds of situations, but I'd never seen one at the ballet before so I took note. The person with the dog went off to a seat in a different area of the theatre than mine.

I didn't think about the dog again, until we were into the Dream and the boy's choir was singing.  Then we heard the dog.  More than once.  I don't mean to imply that the performance was ruined (it was not), but we certainly noticed the canine presence.  I doubt  the professional dancers and musicians were impacted by this; however it may very well have had an impact on the young boys singing.

I imagine the Human Rights Code covers the fully trained dogs with people whose disability necessitates them; does "The Code" also cover dogs in training?

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Fake "service animals" are becoming a real problem. Public transportation in Denver has started posting very detailed signs that they only allow service animals specifically trained to assist a person with a disability. Airlines are also getting stricter.

https://kdvr.com/2018/10/19/rtd-to-riders-stop-bringing-snakes-spiders-other-fake-service-animals/

https://usaservicedogs.org/airline-policies

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I would be suspicious of the "in training" vest, myself. 

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Hi California,

Thank you for this.  I know a bit about the issue as I worked for a large school board here in Canada for many years, and we had to deal with this challenging legal issues a number of times.  It's perhaps a bit more complex in a school setting for a variety of reasons, but certainly a dog "in training" wouldn't be allowed in a classroom that I'm aware of.  There are many different agencies out there now training service animals, and with that the behavioural expectations for the animals and their people varies too. 

Coincidentally, on the train ride home from the ballet I saw an individual with a dog whose vest said that he was an "emotional support animal." 

At any rate, two weeks ago after I attended NBOC I had an e-mail asking for feedback about the performance.  I didn't comment then, but this time I think I'll draw the issue to the company's attention.  If they don't have a policy yet, they should.

Edited to add:  just went on NBOC website and found their policy regarding service animals:

Service animals are welcome in all parts of The Four Seasons Centre that are open to patrons.

Service animals will be accommodated in select areas of the theatre where aisle or leg room allows space for the animal and does not obstruct other patrons while considering fire codes and evacuation procedures. Please note: Seating is subject to availability.

It is the responsibility of the person using the service animal to maintain control of the animal at all times. We request that anyone using a service animal informs the box office prior to the performance by calling us

Edited by mom2
adding information

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I understand from a friend in the restaurant business that if a customer claims that a dog is a service animal they have to allow the customer in, even if the behavior of the dog is obviously not that of a trained service animal. They can, however, intervene if the animal is disruptive.

“Emotional support” pets don’t qualify as service animals, or so I understand, so any such vest may be an attempt to misguide people into thinking that the pet has status as a service animal.

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I find this an interesting question. I began to look for info about guide dogs / service animals in Ontario and learned that the legislative picture is quite variable by jurisdiction. E.g., see p.14-16 of this pretty solid overview of the Ontario situation as of May 2017; things may of course have changed.

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My understanding is that a service animal it one that is trained to provide specific services and that "comfort" animals do not legally qualify. Many businesses don't know that. I had a horrible experience in the Joyce Theater in NYC about 2 yrs ago. I took my seat and the woman next to me had a small dog in a cage, on her lap. The animal stunk to high heaven. It made my stomach turn. I signaled the usher who sent the house manager over to tell me that the dog was allowed. I asked if my husband and I could be moved to comparable seats - the answer was that no seats were available. I don't know if anything has changed since the, but I did write to complain.

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On 11/26/2018 at 7:43 PM, vipa said:

My understanding is that a service animal it one that is trained to provide specific services and that "comfort" animals do not legally qualify. Many businesses don't know that. I had a horrible experience in the Joyce Theater in NYC about 2 yrs ago. I took my seat and the woman next to me had a small dog in a cage, on her lap. The animal stunk to high heaven. It made my stomach turn. I signaled the usher who sent the house manager over to tell me that the dog was allowed. I asked if my husband and I could be moved to comparable seats - the answer was that no seats were available. I don't know if anything has changed since the, but I did write to complain.

Did you get any response from the Joyce? This would be a very concerning situation for me as I am very allergic to dogs and have asthma. 

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7 hours ago, FPF said:

Did you get any response from the Joyce? This would be a very concerning situation for me as I am very allergic to dogs and have asthma. 

I emailed them and got a response saying they were sorry for my inconvenience and would review their animal policy. I didn't follow up beyond that, and it was a couple of years ago. If they haven't changed their policy of allowing comfort animals, I would hope they are prepared to accommodate people with allergies and asthma.

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I can see how it can be a disastrous experience for people with allergies being seated next to a dog. I feel for them. Luckily I am not allergic to animal hair or smell but I am extremely sensitive to perfume and alcohol. Recent changes in many venues around the country allowing people to bring their alcoholic beverages inside the auditorium is more than annoying to me.  A person reeking of beer can be just as bad a as a smelly dog. Adding to the insult is the proclivity of some folks to shaking their iced drinks every few minutes during the performance.  And I will never understand why some patrons feel the need to douse themself with a strong, long lasting, suffocating perfume.  

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7 hours ago, Dreamer said:

[…]Recent changes in many venues around the country allowing people to bring their alcoholic beverages inside the auditorium is more than annoying to me.  A person reeking of beer can be just as bad a as a smelly dog. Adding to the insult is the proclivity of some folks to shaking their iced drinks every few minutes during the performance.  And I will never understand why some patrons feel the need to douse themself with a strong, long lasting, suffocating perfume.  

I feel very much the same about alcohol and drinks, but I have started to suspect that, in some instances, very elderly or ill people may be dousing themselves with perfume to obscure other smells. And that I am a bit more sympathetic to because I can imagine how meaningful a performance might be to them....although perfume gives me migraine and I have had to move seats because of it.

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Hello everyone,

I did have a reply from NBOC.  Basically they said that AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) Standards require that they accommodate patrons who require the assistance of a Service Animal.  I knew this, however I'm still not clear if they were required to admit an animal "in training."  

I got the impression that the Ballet was aware that the dog wasn't perhaps yet ready for the show, if you know what I mean.

I was told that my comments would be forwarded to those managing the Front of House, as well as Ballet Senior Management.

For those of you with extreme allergies to animals, I'd suggest that you contact the ballet before your ticketed performance to make your issue known.  I would hope that if a service animal is to attend the same show that you'd also be accommodated.

In terms of issues relating to scent sensitivity/allergy - I know that workplaces are more frequently making spaces "scent free," but I don't know that I've seen this in a performance space as yet.

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