BRANDON, Man. — 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 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 class because the animal was trained in the United States. 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 do it.
The family got legal help and filed a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
“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 in class and said the animal is having a positive impact.