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Have you recently gotten a pet or are pondering the idea of adding one to your life? Then you’ll want to have a good veterinarian to look after your new bundle of furry-fun. But finding the right pet doctor for your new addition may not be as simple as looking through a directory and calling the first number that pops up. You’ll want to do some research first. In this post we’ll be covering some tips to follow and some questions to ask of your pet’s potential doctor. Here’s how to find the right veterinarian.

Get Pet Parent Opinions

Whether it be from family, friends, co-workers or the place/person you get your new pet from, ask if they know of any good vets. Pet parents are usually quick to share both good and bad experiences, so don’t be shy when you’re searching for your own pet professional.

Friendly and Open

You’ll want all the people you deal with at the veterinarian’s office (from front desk to vet techs and the doctor him/herself) to be open and friendly. Look for a calm nature and one that is at-ease with your pet. Also be sure to observe how your pet responds to the veterinarian. Yes, your animal may be nervous, but a good veterinarian will try to have a good rapport with your animal before doing anything invasive or “scary.”

Busy is Good

It may be frustrating to be denied the appointment date you wanted, then not be able to find a parking place when you do finally get to the office or an available seat to wait for the vet; however, this is a good thing. Busy veterinarian’s are tied-up for a reason…they’re good! Take this as a clear sign that this pet doctor has more going for him/her than just a fancy ad or web site.

Ask About the Cost

When your pet becomes seriously ill is not the time to find out about the cost and payment methods your potential vet has in place. Inquire about this when you are in the first stages of searching for a veterinarian to avoid a shock at the front desk.

After Hours & Emergency Policies

Another upfront inquiry you will want to make is about the office’s hours of operation and what their emergency policies are. If a vet only works a few days a week, or has no emergency contingency plan, then you may want to move on in your search for the right vet.

Location

Having your veterinarian “right around the corner” is convenient, especially if you have an emergency situation. However, don’t base your decision on the right vet just because he/she is close by.

Questions to Ask a Potential Veterinarian

You most likely wouldn’t let a surgeon operate on you without asking some important questions first, so do the same when you’re looking for the right veterinarian. Remember, you are your pet’s voice, so ask these questions before you make your final decision;

Is the vet accredited through the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or the equivalent in your country? What type of equipment does the veterinarian have and will they keep up-to-date on the newest technologies when they become available? Who (if anyone) monitors the overnight patients? How are they treated/housed etc.? How does the veterinarian assess a pet before an operation in regards to anesthesia and post-op care? What do they regard as pain-management? Will this vet refer you to a specialist if your pet needs one? If you have an exotic pet, be sure to ask the potential vet if he/she has experience dealing with that type of species.

This is a good start of important questions to ask a potential veterinarian and they should be eager to answer any and all questions you may have in addition. If the pet doctor you are speaking with is reluctant to answer your questions or gets evasive or rude, move on. This person could be a problem down-the-road.

Finding the Right Veterinarian – Do Your Research

Take the time to follow these helpful suggestions to find the right vet for you and your animal-baby. When you’re pet parenting having the right doctor by your side can make all the difference in having a good pet and having a great pet!

There are a number of people that require the assistance of a service dog. These specialized and highly trained canines provide the person with a disability the right most of us take for granted; to freely participate in all of the activities of life without judgment or discrimination.

However, there are still some establishments, like hotels, that are falling behind on the rights of these individuals. If you or someone you know is disabled and requires the aid of a service dog, the following information is important for you to know.

Can Hotels Charge for a Service Dog?

Under the ADA laws, the hotel cannot charge an extra fee for the service animal as they would another client with a pet. This also means you and your dog will be allowed in the public areas of the hotel, as well as having the right to a floor and room that are not normally designated for people traveling with pets.

What to Expect With Hotels and Service Dogs

When traveling with a service animal, according to the ADA, the hotel staff only has the right to ask you two questions;

Is your dog a service dog? What task(s) does your service dog provide?

If the task is apparent (seeing eye dog, wheelchair-related) the staff has no right to inquire about either the service dog or your disability. When dealing with ignorant hotel staff members, presenting your service dog certification and identification card can help alleviate tension. Remember, the staff members are only employees and may not be properly trained in dealing with service animals in the hotel.

In addition, the hotel staff still has to act according to the rules of conduct the general public should adhere to concerning a service dog. These include;

Not petting the dog Speaking to or teasing the dog No feeding the dog

The staff is also not required to help you perform any of the tasks related to the service dog such as taking it out to relieve itself, feeding, handling etc.

Following the Rules of the Hotel 

Under the ADA, persons with a disability do have a number of rights. However, you will still be expected to follow the rules of the hotel as they are set forth for all their visiting clients.

Your service dog must be under your control at all times, whether this is by the means of a leash, hand gestures or voice control, your dog cannot become unruly. In addition, if your service dog were to damage anything in the hotel room, you are still liable for the cost of those damages.

Hotel Stays with Your Service Dog

Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you should be stripped of your rights to stay in a hotel with your service dog. Under the ADA, hotels cannot refuse you and your service canine accommodations and they cannot ask you personal questions about your condition or your dog’s certification. If an improperly trained hotel staff member makes any of these mistakes, don’t hesitate to ask for the manager.

Staying at an AirBNB with Your Service Dog

As AirBNB becomes more popular with travelers, people have asked us if service dogs are allowed in AirBNB rentals. AirBNB hosts in the United States must allow service animals if they are renting out the entire home or apartment to an AirBNB guest. AirBNB’s nondiscrimination policy requires hosts to allow all service animals into their home unless local laws restrict access for service animals. Please research your intentional destination before booking an AirBNB with your service dog.

Service Dogs Defined Under the ADA

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was established in 1990 and was put into place as a way to prevent establishments from discriminating against those people with a physical or mental disability, which also includes any companion they may have along for help and support. However, those “companions” began moving away from humans to the animal world and many people used this policy to treat their exotic pets such as reptiles, ferrets, pigs and parrots as “service animals.”

To stop people from taking advantage of the true nature of the ADA, amendments have been made to their policies. These changes state only dogs would be considered a service animal and on March 15th, 2011 those changes became official.

However, under the ADA definition, even the service dog will be scrutinized. Their policies state the dog must be there to directly help the person with a disability. This means the canine aids in areas such as pulling a wheelchair, guiding the person safely, alerting to seizures or medications and other services that are needed for the person’s health and well-being.

Although, under the ADA policy, they also ask that establishments make reasonable modifications to also allow the use of miniature horses as a service animal, as these are becoming more popular over time.

The Difference Between Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Dogs

Although service dogs for the deaf and blind have been used for decades, doctors and mental health professionals are now attesting to the benefits dogs (and other animals) bring to those individuals that need emotional or stress-relieving help.

However, since this practice of emotional and therapy pooch is relatively new, we tend to clump the jobs these animals do all into one category. Sure, we know these dogs are important to the individuals they are helping but do we know the difference between service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs?

We’ve consulted with the experts to clear up the mystery and misunderstanding of this important trio.

What is a Service Dog?

According to the organization, ‘Please Don’t Pet Me,’ a service dog is defined as a canine assistant that helps those with physical disabilities. This can include those folks in wheelchairs, limited vision or hearing, epilepsy and a wide array of other physical health problems. This type of dog works to help the disabled person do things and live a life he/she may not be otherwise able to do.

This type of human/canine partnership is protected by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), DOT’s Air Carrier Access Act, DOJ/HUD Fair Housing Act and Federal Rehabilitation Act. These laws ensure the canine will be granted access to public buildings, airlines, and no-pets apartments/condos.  

A service dog should not be petted by strangers when on duty, as this can be a distraction to the animal which could cause harm to the disabled person.

Since service dogs are highly trained from an early age, obtaining a service animal can be quite costly. Most organizations quote around $20,000 for a service dog. Depending on your country and city of location this fee may be paid by individual fundraising, government programs or by the service dog organization itself. If you are unable to afford a professionally trained service dog, you may train your service dog yourself.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Unlike a service dog, the emotional support animal does not have to be highly trained to do its job. The main focus of an emotional support animal is to be there to provide unconditional love, support, companionship and friendship for the person with a psychological disorder. The idea behind this type of partnership is to help those individuals that may suffer from severe depression, anxiety issues or debilitating stress. A doctor, mental health professional or psychotherapist can prescribe an emotional support animal for the person in need.

The role of the emotional support animal isn’t always awarded to a dog. It can be a cat, bird, turtle, rabbit or even a horse.

According to ESA Doctors, these animals are allowed into ‘no pets allowed’ housing as long as they have an ESA letter or document from a mental health professional.

How Can I Get an ESA Letter Online?

What is a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is also trained, but for a different purpose. This dog should be naturally friendly, easy-going, loving and able to handle any situation from calm to chaotic. The therapy dog is used for the sole purpose of bringing stress-relief to those in need. This can include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and more. Therapy dogs are accompanied by a handler (usually the pet parent) and can be interacted with, in fact, it’s encouraged.

The role of the therapy dog can vary from visit-to-visit, depending on where it is needed. Therapy dogs are used in grade schools to encourage reluctant students to read aloud; they may sit with patients that are critically ill or just in need of a pick-me-up, as well as actively participating in someone’s physical rehabilitation.

Albeit an important type of service, therapy dogs are not usually allowed into public places, airlines or those living quarters where there are no pet policies in place.

The Importance of Assistance Animals

The dog and human bond go way back in time, so it’s only natural that we would integrate them into the service world. Dogs have a special intuition that allows them to know when a person is hurting emotionally or is physically ill or disabled. And for this, we are truly blessed to have the lovable canine to be our partners in life.

Whether you need a service dog, emotional support animal or therapy dog, the canine is always on duty.