For most of Carol Craig’s trip to Nova Scotia earlier this month, no one was bothered by Eddie, her seven-pound emotional support dog.
Craig brought Eddie to restaurants, hotels and even on a plane from her home in Manitoba, carrying a doctor’s note in case someone asked about the small dog in the lime green vest.
But it was only at the Halifax Citadel that Eddie became a problem.
Craig said during her visit on Aug. 3, a Halifax Citadel employee — who had what appeared to be a service dog — told her she didn’t have enough proof about Eddie and that she would have to leave the national historic site.
“I was quite upset,” Craig said from her home in Argyle, Man.
Craig and her daughter had already paid to enter the Citadel and she said staff at the gate told her that Eddie, being a support dog, was allowed in the fort.
But a few steps later at the visitor information centre, Craig said a larger dog with a service vest that was behind the counter started barking.
“It was kind of lunging and being aggressive,” she said, adding that its handler was trying to calm down the dog. “It was acting not like a service dog should act at all.”
Craig said the employee told her she couldn’t bring her dog inside.
A Parks Canada spokesperson told CBC News the individual works for the Halifax Citadel Society, which delivers visitor services and employs the military re-enactors at the site.
After explaining Eddie was a support dog, Craig said she was asked to provide paperwork.
She said she showed the employee the doctor’s note, as well as forms she used to bring Eddie on her flight, which included the type of dog and its weight.
“She said, ‘That’s not good enough. That doesn’t identify this particular dog.’ I said, ‘Well, this is my dog. This is the dog,'” said Craig.
‘I was bothered by that’
She said they were then told to leave. Craig and her daughter were given a refund at the front desk.
When Craig told the friends she was staying with what happened, Neil Ross said he was shocked and filed a complaint with Parks Canada.
“I took that personally. I was bothered by that … I’ve lived here for almost 40 years and I felt bad that our honoured guest had been treated in such a way,” said Ross.
Halifax Citadel changing rules
In an emailed statement, Parks Canada said it “regrets the way this encounter unfolded” and said the Halifax Citadel is updating its policy regarding dogs on site.
Jeffrey Lansing said previously, dogs were allowed in all rooms and exhibits, with the exception of the coffee bar, eating area, gift shop and visitor information centre.
“Only trained and certified service dogs as defined by the Nova Scotia Service Dog Act were allowed to enter those rooms,” Lansing said.
The act does not cover pets, emotional support animals or therapy animals.
But because of this incident, Lansing said the Citadel will now allow all dogs in the gift shop and visitor centre under certain conditions.
“Parks Canada is working with its on-site partner, the Halifax Citadel Society, to educate staff members and broaden this policy to include therapy and emotional support dogs, as long as they remain leashed and under owner control at all times,” he said.
“This will provide clarity around determining whether a dog is a trained and certified service dog or not.”
Craig said she hopes the change means others can visit the Citadel, but said it’s upsetting it didn’t happen until after she and her daughter had already returned to Manitoba.
“If we were in Halifax, we’d probably go now that my dog is welcome,” she said.