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  • Writer's picturePositive Paws

What Is A Service Dog?

How Does the Law Define a Service Dog?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The dog must not be a pet, but be specially trained to assist the handler with something directly related to his or her disability. Neither emotional support dogs nor therapy dogs are considered service animals in the eyes of the law. Under the ADA, service dogs cannot be denied entrance to businesses, even food service

establishments, state and local government facilities or nonprofit organizations that

serve the public. However, service dogs must be under control at all times. This

generally means they should be leashed or harnessed-unless these get in the way of the dog’s duties, in which case the dog must still be under the handler’s control.

The ADA mandates that a disable person cannot be asked questions about his or her disability. The staff of businesses can only ask two questions to the handler of a service dog: only to be asked to leave the premises if the dog is out of control and it cannot be corrected by the handler, or if the dog is not house trained.

Types of Service Dogs

* Guide dogs for the blind

* Hearing dogs for the deaf or hearing impaired persons

* Mobility assistance dogs for wheel-chair-bound persons or those with mobility limitations.

* Seizure response dogs to protect and help persons with seizure disorders when a

seizure occurs.

* Diabetes assistance dogs to detect blood sugar highs and lows by scent.

* Mental health service dogs or psychiatric service dogs are task-trained to assist those with PTSD, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, major depression, autism spectrum disorders and much more. They make a major difference in the lives of disabled persons.

Requirements for Getting a Service Dog

Have you ever seen a service dog with it’s handler and wished you could take your dog everywhere with you too? You’re not alone. However, wanting this and needing this are two different things. Too many people are trying to pass their dogs off as service animals, and they are ruining it for the people who truly need service animals.

People with service dogs rely upon their dogs to let them live their lives more as the

average person can do without a dog. The ADA rules are intended to ensure that no

disabled person is interrogated or made to feel inferior. This is an important rule. The

simple truth is this: it is unethical and immoral to pretend your dog is a true service dog.

Problem with Service Dog Impersonators

Putting a vest on your pet does not make them a service animal. There are plenty of

online service dog registries that will gladly take your money and issue a certificate.

That does not make your dog a true service animal. Unfortunately, many phony service dogs behave poorly in public, most likely because they have not gone through rigorous training programs. Fake service dogs may cause damage to property, harass other customers, or create general chaos. Even if your dog is well-behaved, passing off your dog as a service animal is just plain wrong. Doing so is only going to make it more difficult for truly disabled persons to have service dogs that they honestly need.

Gail Moscato


Positive Paws BHC

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