Last Updated: Friday, January 22, 2010 | 6:01 PM ET
Alex Allarie says his service dog, a chihuahua Dee-O-Gee, helps him cope with his anxiety and depression, a psychiatric disability. (CBC)A fight over a chihuahua described as a disabled man’s service dog has been dismissed by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
There is no evidence the dog or its owner’s disability was a factor in wanting them to leave a bulk food store in Carleton Place, Ont., said the ruling by tribunal vice-chair Leslie Reaume.
Alex Allarie of Carleton Place filed the complaint against Keith and Leslie Rouble, the owners of the Granary Bulk and Natural Foods, after he and his tiny dog, Dee-O-Gee, were asked to leave the store in August 2008.
Allarie said the dog is a service animal that must accompany him to help him cope with his anxiety and depression, a psychiatric disability. Barring the dog from the store constituted discrimination on the basis of the owner’s disability, Allarie argued.
The ruling, officially issued Wednesday, said allowing merchants to refuse service to people who had shown evidence, such as a doctor’s note, of their need for a service animal was “untenable.” However, Reaume wrote that in this case, in her view, Allarie provoked the confrontation with the Roubles as soon as he walked into the store.
“As a result, he was asked to leave, as any customer would be under those circumstances,” the decision said.
Leslie Rouble had testified Allarie was asked to leave the store because he was demanding service in an offensive way.
She said she received the tribunal’s decision by courier Friday and is relieved the case is over.