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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I deny access to a public place to a person with a visual impairment or motor disability, or a child with pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), accompanied by a guide or assistance dog trained by the MIRA Foundation to compensate for her/his disability ?

Here is an excerpt from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with respect to the beneficiaries of guide or assistance dogs:

10. Everyone has the right to recognition and the exercise in full equality, rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, color, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnicity or national origin, social condition, disability or use of any means to palliate handicap.

Discrimination exists where such a distinction, exclusion or preference has the effect of nullifying or impairing such right.

10.1 No person shall harass any person because of any ground mentioned in Article 10.

15. No one may, through discrimination, prevent others from having access to transportation or public places, such as commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, theaters, cinemas, parks, campgrounds and RV parks, and to obtain goods and services that are available.

With regard to foster families who circulate with puppies being socialized, it is therefore left to the discretion of commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, theaters, cinemas, parks, campgrounds and RV parks to allow them access.

How much does a blind, visually impaired or disabled individual pay to receive a dog?

Absolutely nothing! The services offered by the MIRA Foundation are free.

All individuals with a visual, physical or other handicap can request services from the MIRA Foundation. They will be invited to our Sainte-Madeleine facilities (near Montreal) where they will be subjected to an evaluation so they can be oriented towards the services they could benefit from.

What happens to dogs that are not selected in a program?

The dogs that are not selected are offered to the general public. The foster family which cared for the dog during its first year of life is given priority. If the family cannot adopt the dog, we then turn to our waiting list (about 5 years waiting time). A 1 000$ donation to the foundation is required to adopt one of these dogs. The dogs are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and have received a basic training. To be added to the waiting list, please contact us via info@mira.ca.

What happens to retired dogs?

Usually, the individual who has received the dog gives it away to a member of his family or to a friend. When that is not possible, the dog returns to the MIRA Foundation and we contact the foster family which cared for the dog during its first year of life. If the family cannot or chooses not to adopt the dog, we then turn to our waiting list. Since only one or two retired dogs are returned to the foundation during the course of a year, it can take several years before obtaining one. The families sought to care for these dogs are families that can ensure that one person will be with the dog at all times. It is important to remember that these dogs are used to be with someone 24 hours a day. Being left alone several hours a day could be difficult for them. If you fit this profile, please contact us via info@mira.ca.

Does the MIRA Foundation adopt dogs from external sources?

We rarely take in dogs from external sources. The dog must be pure bred, must not be spayed or neutered, and must meet our excellence standards. From our experience, some lineage, while producing great domestic dogs, are not matches for our program. The first step is to send us the dog’s pedigree by fax at (450) 795-3789 or by email at info@mira.ca.

What is the origin of the name MIRA?

MIRA has for origin the name of a female Labrador which was named Mirabelle. Mirabelle was one of the first 2 guide-dogs trained by Éric St-Pierre. As it is common to give a nickname to dogs, he called her MIRA. Éric St-Pierre chose to name the foundation in honour of this dog. Only later did Mr. St-Pierre realize that MIRA is an imperative of the verb "look" in Spanish…

Which breeds are used by MIRA?

The dogs are Labrador, Bernese, Labernese, Golden Retriever, Golden Labrador and Poodle (standard). The 3 most commonly used breeds are Labrador, Bernese and Labernese.

Can the assistance trained dog open doors?

The assistance-trained dog can open doors. However, the door handles must be levers. The dog opens these doors with its paws or with its teeth when a cloth is attached to the lever. The dog can also open doors in shopping centres, hospitals, and any building equipped with automatic doors (push buttons). Again, the dog can open these doors by using its paws or nose. The dog can open the refrigerator’s door if a cloth is attached to its handle.

What type of objects can the assistance trained dog fetch for its owner?

The assistance trained dog can bring the majority of the objects its owner requests: keys, utensils, walking aids (cane, etc.), bank card, glasses, containers, coins, clothes, gloves, boots, slippers, etc.

How many words can a guide-dog or an assistance trained dog understand? Can you give some examples?

That can vary depending on the user. The dog first learns to respond to verbal commands (go out, come, stay, down, eat food, no, yes, good dog, etc.) and gestural commands. It can also learn specific words with regards to a school environment (class, cafeteria, library, etc.). If its owner takes the subway, the dog could learn "turnstile". The list can be lengthy. On average, a dog’s vocabulary could consist of more than 50 words used on a daily basis.

Can all sorts of dogs help people in need?

At the MIRA Foundation, we work primarily with the Labrador and the Bernese Mountain Dog. The combination of the two gives us an excellent dog: the Labernese, or soon to be called the St-Pierre.

Are MIRA dogs trained for the blind only?

In recent years, another type of dog has been trained to help people with disabilities other having other than visual. Service dogs, like guide dogs, accompany handicapped individuals as they move around, helping to make up for certain inabilities or limitations. The MIRA Foundation is currently studying the effect of the introduction of a service dog on children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), as well as on the child’s family.

Can I donate a dog to MIRA?

We rarely accept dogs outside of our breeding kennels. The dog must be pure bred and must not be sterilized. The first step is to send us the pedigree (family tree). We know by experience that some breeds, although they are good companion dogs, they are not suited to our programs (energy levels too high, nose too strong, health issues, etc.). Following our evaluation of the pedigree, which can take more or less 2 weeks, the dog must be assessed by our professionals to verify its physical compliance, as well as its temperament. If the dog is 5 months old or more, a hip x-ray will be taken to see if there is canine hip dysplasia. For reproduction, we only accept dogs who have an excellent to good compliance. If the dog is 10 months old or more, we will need to keep it more or less 2 weeks so it can be evaluated as part of our regular assessments. If the puppy is less than 5 months old, we will make our decision based on its physical compliance, as well as on its temperament. If the dog succeeds all these tests, we will accept it in the family MIRA. At any time, MIRA reserves the right to refuse the dog.

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