emotional support dog ontario

Ontario dog removed from job for being too fat

A service dog was recently relieved of his long-time duties in a Mississauga home when he was found to be far too fat for his own good — a decision a provincial adjudicator has now determined to be quite fair given the circumstances.

The dog, named Sammy, had worked as a companion animal for a girl with autism for more than five years when he was seized by National Service Dogs (NSD), the Ontario-based non-profit that provides specially trained pups to help residents across the country with various needs.

Unfortunately, it is alleged that Sammy's family did not take the best care of him during his time with them, accused of failing to take him on adequate walks and consistently over-feeding him. 

As a result, the dog reportedly ballooned from 83 pounds to a whopping 129 pounds during his first year in the house.

Though the family argued that the organization was discriminatory in removing the pooch from the home, the province's Human Rights Tribunal ruled otherwise earlier this month, saying that the move was "reasonable," especially as NSD had engaged in multiple discussions with the family on the subject over the years.

There is also the fact that Sammy was experiencing a litany of health issues, even after dropping some pounds from his peak weight. Medical records provided to the tribunal showed joint problems and other conditions that were exacerbated by his obesity.

"NSD had real concerns about Sammy's overall health, arthritis, ongoing ear infections and being overweight for several years," the legal decision from April 19 reads, adding that staff from the agency noted Sammy was "extremely large, panting while sitting down, took a while to stand up and seemed unhealthy and unwell" when they last visited the family.

"The staff notes indicate that it 'became apparent that Sammy needed immediate intervention' and that his condition 'solidified the plan to bring Sammy back to NSD for a health assessment and weight loss plan,'" the ruling continues.

"The team had received the medical records from the veterinarian and were concerned about Sammy's health. Several meetings were held with the team and offers were made to the family to assist with a consistent plan to get Sammy healthy, which was met with resistance from the family."

Sammy has since been removed from service permanently and has been on the road to better health, shedding more than seven pounds in his first month in new care.

"We understand that you and the children are very attached to Sammy but given the requirements of his ongoing care and exercise needs, we will not be returning him to your family," the adjudicator told the family.

"Please know that this decision was not made lightly. I believe we all want him to have a healthy, pain free future and we are committed to supporting him on this journey."

Lead photo by

National Service Dogs, used for illustrative purposes only

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