Thursday, 6 April 2017

Service Dog Training: Day 4 (and a half)

I just want to share a challenge that one of the other families faced.  They are booked to go home on WestJet and the mother called to confirm the arrangements for bringing the dog with them.  The airline already knew that the dog was coming, but the woman confirming the information decided to take it on herself to tell the parent that she could not have the dog with her in the cabin because it's a service dog for her son, not for her.

They spent over an hour on the phone, both her and the trainers, trying to get this woman to understand why it would be a problem for the dog to travel by cargo, how this was not her decision to make and all sorts of issues.  We had to leave before it was resolved, but it's yet another example of how these kind of unexpected challenges can pop up for families with autism, despite the best preparations.

This is the family's second service dog and the mother was kind enough to let us know that she's never had this problem when travelling with Air Canada, which they do fairly frequently.  But this is the first time they've travelled with WestJet and it will be the last.

The trainer let us know that we are never under an obligation to tell people who the dog is for or what it is for.  There is an identification card which says that the dog is trained and certified and that is all people are entitled to ask for.

Update:  After several hours on the phone, including over an hour of silence while "waiting" for a manager, the family had to hang up.  The following day, they tried calling only to be told there was no new information and that WestJet would call them back.  There was an implication that it might take days to sort out (even though the flight was in less than 48 hours.)

WestJet did call back before lunch.  With an apology and a free upgrade to first class for the trouble. 

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