Victoria 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

 

Just Posted

Police stay quiet on downtown fire investigation

The fire at Victoria’s Plaza Hotel was deemed suspicious on May 14

Former Saanich councillor joins Cordova Bay community association board

Leif Wergeland served on Saanich council for 22 years before retiring from politics in 2018

Coastline serves up a feast of fiddlers in Oak Bay

Local Juno Award winner musical director for ensemble

Police arrest jewelry thieves in same building they allegedly stole from

More than $6,000 worth of jewelry was recovered

Saanich lifeguards earn Vital Link awards for cardiac arrest response

Awards from BC Emergency Health Services recognize quick and skillful life-saving

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

RCMP searching for missing Vancouver Island teenager

16-year-old Lasheena Seward was reported missing from a group home in Port Alberni

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Ottawa spending $24.5M to research on health benefits, risks of pot use

$390,000 will fund two cannabis public awareness

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Most Read