Fact Sheet Pursuant to Senate Bill 1331 (Chapter 595 Statutes of 2016)

About the Board

What is the Guide Dog Board?

The California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind is a regulatory body created by the Legislature in 1947. It exists to ensure the quality of the guide dog industry by setting and enforcing standards, and providing outreach and education. Public protection is the Board’s highest priority, and this mandate is carried out through the licensure and regulation of guide dog programs and team instruction in California. The Board ensures that instructors are qualified and that training meets Board established standards. Through these functions, the Board serves and protects guide dog users and the general public alike.

  • Guide Dog Users - As a client of a California Guide Dog School, licensure status of a school, instructor or apprentice can be verified. California licensed instructors have passed three State administered exams that test their knowledge and skills in guide dog team instruction as well as safety, effectiveness, and evaluation of guide dogs and guide dog teams. Additionally, Instructors must undergo a fingerprint background check to prove that they have no relatable criminal background or subsequent arrests.
  • The Public – The Guide Dog Board protects the public by making sure that instructors meet competencies that lend to safe and effective training and that guide dog teams have achieved safe and effective mobility prior to graduation from a program. These competencies and minimum standards lay the groundwork for a team’s successful navigation of their day-to-day lives.

Arbitration Program

What is the process?

  • The Guide Dog Arbitration Program is authorized by Business and Professions Code section 7215.6
  • Arbitration is designed to provide resolution for guide dog users and schools with disputes that involve the continued use or custody of a dog.
  • In the unlikely and unfortunate event that a guide dog school chooses to separate a client from their guide dog against their will, they may wish to seek arbitration through the Board.
  • Through arbitration, the Board acts as a neutral third party to determine the best course of action regarding the continued use and/or custody of a guide dog.
  • Arbitration is only available if a California licensed Guide Dog School retains title of the dog as provided by law. If a guide dog is owned unconditionally by the client, the school cannot re-take possession of the dog; however they may reclaim the harness or other proprietary equipment.

Why would arbitration be needed?

  • In certain circumstances, a school, which retained title to a guide dog, may decide to reclaim custody or retire a dog to ensure the safety of the client or the dog.
  • Some examples are instances of medical or environmental issues preventing the dog from providing safe and effective travel, or instances of neglect or abuse of a guide dog.
  • If a client disagrees with a school’s decision, they may seek Arbitration from the Board.

How is arbitration sought?

  • If a dog has been reclaimed or retired by a school, they must formally notify the client within 30 days.
  • If the client wishes to seek arbitration, they must submit a written and signed request to the Board and the school within 30 days from the day they received notice from the school.
  • All hearings, investigations, and decisions will be concluded within 45 days from the receipt of a user’s written request for arbitration.
  • The Board will make every effort to minimize any costs, as all parties are required to bear their own costs for arbitration.

Guide Dog Discrimination

How can the Guide Dog Board help?

While the Board has information and resources available to assist victims of guide dog discrimination, the Board does not have any jurisdiction over public access rights, discrimination, or the investigation or prosecution of individuals responsible for attacks on guide dogs. In many situations, however, the Board is able to assist in these instances by directing a guide dog user to the proper outlets and authorities.

More information and resources can be provided by Board staff by calling 916-574-7826 or emailing guidedogboard@dca.ca.gov