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. Service dogs are trained to behave in a public setting and will not act out. Most of the time service dogs are larger breed, even emotional support dogs typically avoid smaller breeds like chihuahuas who have a tendency to bite or be naturally protective and aggressive.
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.
Can I get my dog certified if I do not have a disability?
No. Service dogs are specifically for those with a disability. They provide a specific task to help lessen the burden of their disability on their daily activities. Although it is possible to get the certification at some less than legitimate sites, it would require lying about such disability and fraudulently taking advantage of laws established to protect the disabled.
Does abuse the system harm those that truly need a service animal?
Yes. First and foremost, these service animals provide a method for disabled people to do things they would otherwise be unable to do. The laws surrounding service animals were put into effect to minimize the complications a disabled person faces on a daily basis. By abusing the system, it dismisses the fact that those in need of service dogs have a legitimate disability that those abusing the system do not have. It can often feel like they and their disability are not taken seriously.
Secondly, it can make things more complicated for the disabled person and their service dog to enter various facilities and businesses. If a person abusing the system takes their pet into these establishments and their pet is not trained to behave, it can create complications for the business. This can lead to the business trying to weed out offenders and often causing more complications for the disabled.
It could also create a need to create a real registry for service animals. This can increase costs and accessibility for the disabled to get and utilize a service animal. It can also create more complications and embarrassment at establishments when they are required to go into detail about their disability and service animal.
Service dogs are not a “perk” for the disabled. They are necessary helpers to allow an individual to perform many of the tasks they may not be able to do without the service animal. Many of the things most people take for granted are limited to those with disabilities. A disabled person cannot do many of the things those without disabilities can do. A service dog helps to provide a bridge for them to be more independent and able to enjoy their life.