A nine-year-old boy with Down syndrome is now being allowed to bring his service dog to class in Brandon after a two-month delay.
Sam Wilkinson (pictured) has Down syndrome and has difficulty hearing. His parents got him a dog named Hart to help him stay safe and become more independent at school.
But, the division would not allow Hart in Sam's classes because the animal was trained in the U.S.
Sam's mother, Joanne Wilkinson, said the family had to get the animal in the U.S. because they couldn't get a Canadian agency to train the dog for Sam.
The family got legal help and filed a complaint to the Human Rights Commission to get the dog into Sam's classes.
The school division, however, said it had to follow policy.
"It's taken so long to happen because there's no precedent in Manitoba schools in using service or therapy dogs trained outside of Canada," said Donna Michaels, superintendent of the Brandon School Division.
Michaels said the division needed to have the dog assessed by the Office of the Fire Commissioner before it could be allowed in school.
The division is now changing its policy to make it easier for other families in the future, said Michaels.
Sam Wilkinson's family, meanwhile, is moving out of Brandon at the end of November. They're happy, however, that Sam can now have his dog, Hart, in class and said the animal is having a positive impact.
They also hope families don't have to go through the same steps they needed to in order to get the animal allowed into Sam's classes.
"There's not going to be anybody else that has to go through this kind of hoop-jumping," said Joanne Wilkinson.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
CTV in Winnipeg, Canada:
Posted by BA Haller at 9:32 PM