Service Dogs

 

“Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?”

“What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?”

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Those are the two questions that you can be legally asked to confirm the legitimacy of your service dog. Your service dog does not need to be certified by any organization. Your service dog does not need to wear an identifying vest. Your service dog does not even need to be professionally trained! Your service dog does need to be able to perform a specific task on your behalf - one that you can explain when asked. “He alerts me to upcoming seizures,” is a task. “She helps me open doors and provides stability when I’m walking,” would also qualify. These are by no means the only appropriate answers. However, please note that these are concrete, definable jobs that a dog can be trained to do - not ambiguous titles which we assign to the dog.

Emotional support, comfort, companion, or therapy dogs are not considered service animals under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and are not entitled to the same freedoms as service dogs. People frequently contact me and ask if I can train their dog to be a service dog. But the real question should be:

“Will you help me train my dog to do (TASK) in order to help me with (DISABILITY)?”

Though professional training is not a requirement, you will want to ensure that your service dog, if you need one, is well-behaved and fully housebroken, or it can be excluded from public places like any other dog. You must be able to control your service animal at all times, with or without a leash. The handler of a dog which is out of control can be legally ordered to leave a public space, if they cannot control their dog.

For more information on what constitutes a service animal, please follow up with the sources below:

"Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA." ADA. July 20, 2015. Accessed November 9, 2018. https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.pdf.

"Service Animals." ADA. July 2011. Accessed November 9, 2018. https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.pdf.

In addition, Bankrate has compiled an extensive resource on the cost of obtaining and keeping a service animal, as well as the many organizations that train and place these animals with those in need. You’ll find that article here:

https://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/how-to-afford-a-service-dog