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Man finds shelter after hotel eviction, turns focus to getting dogs back

'I have to come up with $3,000 to get them out or I could lose them,' man says of therapy dogs currently boarded at local facility

Robert Orr-Duncan has landed on his feet after being evicted last Friday, but he still doesn’t know what the future holds for him.

The 35-year-old autistic man was one of several people kicked out of the Days Inn on Hart Drive in Barrie after space provided for an emergency shelter program came to an end on Dec. 1.

For the time being, home is now the Barrie Motel near Wellington Street West and Anne Street.

The Salvation Army Barrie Bayside Mission has moved him into that location, near the Anne Street bridge over Highway 400, as part of its emergency family shelter program.

The problem Orr-Duncan says he continues to have, though, despite having found a temporary place to live, is the ability to bring his dogs with him.

The Barrie Motel will not waive its 'no pets' rule it has in place, he tells BarrieToday.

The two West Highland terriers are used by both Orr-Duncan and his mother as therapy dogs. One of the dogs is trained to lay on his mother and monitors her heart and blood pressure. If the dog senses any irregularities, it will reach out and paw at them.

The dogs are currently being boarded, as they were not allowed at the Days Inn, either, after an ownership change from Quality Inn to the current owner, back at the beginning of November.

Orr-Duncan says the dogs were due to be sent back to him on Friday, Dec. 1, because the facility had already been booked for the month of December and is full. However, he says he was given an extension until this Friday (Dec. 8).

He said he has a substantial boarding bill he owes to a local facility for the month of November. He says says he must pay it by Friday if he wants to get his dogs back.

“I have to come up with $3,000 to get them out or I could lose them,” Orr-Duncan told BarrieToday.

He says he's worried they may be sent to an animal shelter if he can’t pay the bill.

Meanwhile, his mother recently had foot surgery and was scheduled to be discharged from hospital yesterday, barring any complications, and is slated to rejoin him at the Barrie Motel. 

“It’s not really suited for her,” he said, partially due to accessibility issues.

She suffers from the effects of diabetes and also has mobility issues beyond the foot surgery, Orr-Duncan added.

With nowhere to turn for help with his situation with his dogs, Orr-Duncan says he has reached out for legal advice. He is trying to begin the process of taking his case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to fight to keep his dogs with them at the motel.

About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
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