A blind woman is fighting back after she and her friends were denied stays at a BnB in cottage country because of their service dogs, then threatened with libel by the business after writing a negative review online.
Kaye Leslie is blind and depends on service dog Stormy to get around. She was looking into a wine-tasting trip to Prince Edward County with friends this fall. However, when she called Sunrise Bed and Breakfast in Bloomfield, she was flat out rejected.
“I said there are four of us and I should mention that I have a guide dog. And the owner said, ‘absolutely not’,” Leslie told CityNews.
Leslie said two weeks ago her friends experienced the same thing, being turned away when they showed up there to stay with their guide dog.
“To put fear of a little dog hair on a carpet before the well being of humans just doesn’t make sense to me.”
The problem only escalated from there.
The shocked would-be customers posted their experiences on Trip Advisor. They were met with a comment from Sunrise Bed and Breakfast’s lawyer, telling them their review was libelous and the bed and breakfast was in fact legally right to turn them away.
“It was bullying. It was total bullying. It was an attempt to basically shut us up,” Leslie said.
CityNews reached out to the owners of Sunrise. They refused to comment. However, they sent us the same cease and desist letter posted online. It reads in part:
“The law is that B&Bs are private homes and have limited accommodations for the public and do not fall under the guidelines set out in the Blind Person’s Rights Act — or Bill 80 of the Ontario Service Dogs Act, 2016.”
The CEO of the World Blind Union said Bill 80 just recently passed first reading and isn’t law yet.
“It’s an interpretation that the lawyer gave and personally I don’t accept that interpretation,” Penny Hartin said. “We want to have access to any facility that anyone without disabilities has. And that’s the bottom line.”
According to the province, The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act “applies to every person or organization that provides goods, services or facilities to the public or other third parties and that has at least one employee in Ontario… Sole proprietors with no employees are not obligated under the AODA or its regulation.”
That leaves Leslie feeling like she has nowhere to turn, or to stay.
“It really is shocking in 2017 to think that people are discriminated against on being blind and having a guide dog,” she said.