Blind Woman Refused Apartment Over Guide Dog


She’s got a week to move but has yet to find a landlord who’s willing to take her dog.   

Winnipegger Donna Chartrand said she’s been looking hard for a new place to  live now that the rent in her current home has been raised beyond her means,

but says she’s been turned down by at least seven places in recent weeks due  to no pets policies.

Chartrand, who is visually impaired, has been using a guide dog since 1989, but  managers at the apartment blocks she’s visited don’t see her dog Mileva any differently than other canines even though they’re required by law to do so.

Looking for a new place to live is no easy task for Chartrand given that she  uses a wheelchair to go outside and can’t see more than a foot.

“My husband just passed away and I’m all by myself.  I just have my guide dog  and myself, and I have to find a place,” she said.  “I have to be out of
here by the end of this month and I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I’m going in for  heart surgery and I need a place before then. I don’t know if I’m going to make it, even, but if I do make it I want to have a place to go.”

Manitoba’s Human Rights Code specifically mentions guide dogs alongside  things like sexual orientation and religion as unacceptable targets of
discrimination.  That means it’s just as illegal to refuse someone an apartment  because of a service dog as it is to refuse them because of their religious beliefs.

“Service dogs are not pets and they do not fall under no pet clauses,” said a  spokesman for Manitoba’s family services department.
The spokesman said officials at the Residential Tenancies Branch would be  willing to help Chartrand mediate a solution with potential landlords but have no jurisdiction in pre-tenancy situations.

Chartrand said she’s been working with someone at the Manitoba Human  Rights Commission who’s going to follow up with the landlords she’s been
refused by. They could be fined or otherwise sanctioned if they’re found to have  violated the law.  Landlords could be in breach of Human Rights  Bill
McKeown, vice-president of government relations for the CNIB, said he was  surprised to hear about Chartrand’s case, noting most Canadian landlords
nowadays comply freely with the law.
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