Brandon Student Returning to Class with Service Dog

A nine-year-old boy with Down syndrome is returning to school after a two-month fight over the right to bring his service dog to class.

Sam Wilkinson will be back in a Brandon classroom this week after a decision by the Brandon School Division was reversed.

Wilkinson’s family has been embroiled in a battle with the school division ever since its ruling earlier this fall that prevented their son from bringing his dog, Hart, to class.

After public outrage, a grievance filed with the Human Rights Commission and help from Manitoba Search and Rescue (MSAR), Sam will be back to class on Tuesday.

A training session for staff will take place today and will be conducted by MSAR. George Leonard, a master dog trainer, will be in the classroom working with Sam and Hart to assist in the transition.

Sam also suffers from a hearing impairment — something Hart assists him with to notify of any surrounding noises.

“We are dedicated to work for the family for as many school days as it takes to make sure that the staff, Sam (and family) and ourselves are assured that the transition has been successful,” a statement from MSAR read late Sunday.

Manitoba Search and Rescue is providing the extensive training for the black Labrador free of charge.


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