How to Get a Psychiatric Service Dog in Texas
The Texas state motto is one simple and beautiful word — friendship. And there’s no better friendship than the one from man’s best friend. Dogs provide humans with companionship and affection. Service dogs, however, can also save our lives.
What is a Psychiatric Service Dog?
A service dog receives extensive training to perform one or more specific tasks for someone with a disability. The task must relate directly to the disability and be something their handler would be unable to do for themselves. A service dog is also trained to maintain safe behavior in public. Unlike therapy dogs and emotional support animals (ESA), service dogs are highly trained.
Psychiatric service dogs (PSD) receive training to perform tasks that help people with mental or emotional disorders. For example, a PSD trained to assist someone with social anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may act as a physical barrier in social situations. These dogs may block strangers from coming too close, preventing a panic attack. Other PSDs may perform deep pressure therapy to reduce anxiety and stress.
Federal and State Laws Protect Service Dogs
All service dogs, including psychiatric service dogs, are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, service dogs may accompany their handlers into areas the public is typically allowed, even in places where no pets can go. For example, a service dog may enter a movie theatre or grocery store— places other animals can’t enter.
Other federal laws which apply to service dogs are the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Under the FHA, landlords and housing managers must allow all service animals into their rentals. Pet fees do not apply to service animals because they aren’t considered pets. The ACAA enables people with disabilities to travel with their service dogs without restrictions typically reserved for pets.
Texas state laws regarding service animals align with federal regulations. In addition, Texas state laws also have the following rules:
- There is a criminal penalty punishable by a fine of $300 and 30 hours of community service for denying access to a person with a disability due to a service animal.
- Employees have up to ten days of paid leave for an assistance dog training program.
- Public facilities and transportation carriers are required to allow a person with a qualifying disability, a service dog trainer, and a service dog to use their services.
Getting a Service Dog in Texas
Before starting the search for psychiatric service dogs, you may choose to consult with your physician or licensed mental healthcare provider. Assess your needs and determine how a service dog could address them.
You can obtain a service dog by:
- Purchasing a fully-trained service dog.
- Buy or adopt a dog, then train the service dog on your own.
- Buy or adopt a dog, then outsource the more complex training. Reserve basic skills training to do on your own.
- Buy or adopt a dog, but outsource all the training.
Finding and Training Your Psychiatric Service Dog in Texas
If you’re looking to adopt a potential psychiatric service dog, these Texas establishments may have the ideal dog for you.
Even after 45 years in operation, Operation Kindness in Carrollton, Texas, remains dedicated to rescuing homeless animals. In addition to pet adoptions, they also have a pet food pantry and offer a surrender prevention program. Their extensive Foster Team ensures that animals are rehabilitated and socialized.
Straight Outta Texas
Straight Outta Texas rescues homeless animals and sends them to loving forever homes. Their fosters encourage sociability, but some dogs may also need basic obedience training. Straight Outta Texas offers a variety of dogs and also allows for out-of-state adoptions.
Give Us Paws
Give Us Paws is found in Houston and offers free or discounted training for veterans and civilians with PTSD and other disabilities. Their training program consists of eight to twelve months of group and one-on-one service dog training. The one-on-one training is disability-specific and customizable.
Dog Alliance Academy
The Dog Alliance Academy provides free service dogs for qualified veterans. What’s more, they offer paid service dogs for civilians. The Dog Alliance Academy also hosts a variety of programs like in-person training sessions, trained therapy dogs, and support for veterans with PTSD and children with special needs.
Your Psychiatric Service Dog in Texas
Texas offers numerous rescue centers and service dog training programs. Finding and training your service dog may sound overwhelming, but it’s well worth it. You’ll find that a psychiatric service dog in Texas can become your most meaningful friendship and make your life easier.