The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.” It also says that the tasks must be directly related to the person’s disability. This means that a service dog is trained to help with specific things that the individual is unable to do because of their disability. For example, a blind person may need a dog to lead them, or a person with seizures may have a dog trained to alert them when a seizure is about to happen.
For those with service dogs, these dogs must be available to them at all times. This includes when they go out to various public facilities and stores. All facilities are required to allow service dogs, regardless of the type of business. This includes restaurants and medical facilities, as these dogs are necessary for the disabled person to function in their daily lives.
Getting Your Dog Service Certified
Some service dogs are certified by the facility that trained them to help the individual. There are many groups that offer service certification for these types of dogs, as well. Services, such as The United States Service Dog Registry, offers a free registry for service dogs. This allows a person to conveniently add their service dog to a registry where they can be looked up by anyone to verify their validity. Vests and cards can also be purchased for the pet to make them more easily identified when entering a business.
Is there an official certification or recognized governing body?
No, there is not an official certification or recognized governing body for the certification of service dogs. It is not required by federal law to have a dog service certified. It is also not required to have a dog trained by a specific trainer or company. As long as the dog is trained to perform its task and is able to behave in a public setting, they are permitted to be in any area the disabled person is in.
There is no current requirement to have a service dog certified due to the further complications it could bring to a disabled person. It is believed that a disabled person faces enough challenges in their daily life that a required certification could bring undue hardships to those with a disability that requires a service dog. They could be limited in their ability to perform their daily tasks due to a lengthy registration process, as well as open them up to more questions and complications when taking their service dog to various facilities.
What is the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal?
Service animals perform a specific task for the disabled person. Emotional support animals provide comfort being with a person. Emotional support animals are not given the same protection to be in public areas. Some state and local governments do allow people to take emotional support animals into public areas, however, they are not federally required to do so. There are requirements, however, that allow emotional support animals to be allowed in homes, even no pet rental units. They are also allowed on planes and other travel accommodations, as well as hotels and other lodgings.
Where can you take a service animal?
You can take a service animal anywhere. This includes any public area, school, restaurant, grocery store, and even medical facilities, such as hospitals. However, the handler is responsible for all care and supervision of the service animal. The only limitation is when there are two service animals and the facility cannot safely accommodate both. For example, a small restaurant may limit the guest to one service animal, only if, only one dog can safely sit under the table and the other would have to remain in the walkway. Even hospitals are required to allow service animals for patients as long as the dog is cared for during the stay.
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Service Dog Equipment
The staff is not allowed to ask any questions pertaining to the disability, nor are they allowed to request documentation or a demonstration of that task.