Open letter the Hon. Minister of Social Development Stephanie Cadieux and MLA Westside-Kelowna Hon. Ben Stewart:
On Oct. 14, 2011 at about 4 p.m., I was crossing a marked intersection at the corner of the 3700 block Gellatly Road and Carrington Road in West Kelowna with my hearing ear service dog guide when a young male motorist drove through the stop sign and ran over my service dog.
I was able to pull my dog free from under his vehicle and when I had cleared this motorist’s path he struck me twice more before he finally drove onto Gellatly Road and sped off onto Hwy 97 without stopping.
With the assistance of another motorist, who stopped and kindly assisted me, I attended to my dog guide and was able to acquire the licence and description of the hit and run vehicle.
I immediately contacted the West Kelowna RCMP, who never attended at the accident scene. They returned my call on Sunday Oct. 16 to inform me they had “spoken to the young male driver and issued him a warning.” No charges for hit and run, no charges for leaving the scene of an accident—zilch.
On Oct. 15 I contacted the B.C. SPCA Kelowna branch to request medical attention for my service dog guide as I had no finances being on BC PWD mid-month to afford a veterinarian fee of about $80. The attendant at the SPCA told me in order to “qualify for medical intervention” I would have to relinquish custody and ownership of a $30,000 dog guide to the BC SPCA.
I was absolutely appalled that a non-profit organization would ever try and pull this kind of nonsense, based on the fact I am a disabled person with no financial means to afford emergency care in the event my service dog guide becomes injured.
As you are no doubt aware as minister of social services, there is no legislation in place in B.C. to provide any form of emergency veterinary care for any service animal for someone like myself on PWD or Social Assistance in B.C., unlike Manitoba and many other less affluent provinces across Canada.
I believe immediate legislation is required to implement a veterinary care program for all service dog guides in B.C. and I am going to request that other persons that have a service dog guide write their MLA’s and get this legislation passed immediately. If this province can afford to pay a former Premier Gordon Campbell $300,000.00 a year in pension benefits to suck up gin and tonics in London Town we certainly should be able to cover a few veterinarian charges a year in BC where required for the disabled population employing these service animals.