How to Register Your Dog as a Service Dog in Illinois
Dogs make a difference; there’s no stronger proof than a service dog. While most dogs offer their owners unconditional adoration and affection, service dogs provide the same benefits — and so much more. For people with disabilities, service dogs make everyday tasks easier and safer.
If you have a qualifying disability and reside in the Prairie State or are thinking of spending the next few years there, you may want to look into what a service dog could do for you. Illinois’ vast expanses and service dog-friendly laws make having a service dog easy. And once you’ve obtained a service dog, you may want to register your dog as a service dog in Illinois.
Determine Your Need for a Service Dog
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as a person with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a person who has a history or record of such an impairment; or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”
Depending on your disability and what tasks you need help with, a service dog could make a world of difference.
The ADA are federal laws that protect people with disabilities and their service animals. These laws enable people to take their service dogs into areas where pets aren’t usually allowed. If you have a disability, your service dog can accompany you almost anywhere, including airplanes.
Before you start on your journey to find a service dog, first evaluate what your needs are. Your physician or therapist can help you determine what services a service dog can do for you.
Choose and Training Your Service Dog
When choosing a service dog candidate, breed and size are essential factors. Opt for the breed that can get the tasks done right. Don’t give in to the temptation of choosing your favorite breed instead. For example, you may prefer Pomeranians. But if you’re using a service dog to help brace falls, a Pomeranian would not only prove ineffective in this situation; it could also be unsafe for you and the Pomeranian.
Besides breed, intelligence and temperament must also factor into the chosen dog. Why? Because a bulk of what makes a dog a service dog is the training it receives. A service dog must have extensive training to:
- Maintain appropriate and safe behavior in public areas.
- Carry out tasks that specifically pertain to your disability.
You can have a dog professionally trained, train a dog yourself, or you can do a mix of the two. Although the least costly choice is to train a service dog yourself, it’s also the most time-consuming. However, if you don’t have the luxury of time to train your service dog, purchasing one outright from a professional trainer may be the ideal choice. Because so much time, effort, and funds go into having a service dog, it’s always a good idea to get your dog registered.
Why Register Your Service Dog?
Although registering your service dog isn’t mandatory, there are significant reasons why you should. Registering a service dog adds a level of legitimacy to your animal and mitigates problems. You’ll find that having a registered service dog reduces the challenges that occur when traveling or securing lodging with your dog.
What’s more, the public has become wary of service dogs due to the increase in fraudulent service animals. By having a registered dog, you avoid intrusive questions and can offer immediate proof about your dog’s role.
How to Register Your Dog as a Service Dog
- Provide the name of the handler.
The handler is typically the person for whom the dog helps.
- Provide the name of the service dog.
When choosing a name to document, use the name that the service dog responds to the most often.
- Provide your email address.
Have immediate access to your email because you may need to verify your address.
- Upload a clear and current photo of your service dog.
You may choose to forgo this step if you do not wish to have a photo of your service dog on the ID.
- Include any other certifications and paraphernalia.
This may include PSD letters, service dog vests, or dog tags.
Illinois Service Dog Laws
Many states have their own laws regarding service dogs, including Illinois. Two Illinois laws that protect the rights of people who have service dogs are:
1. Service Animal Access Act
The Service Animal Access Act prevents the refusal or denial of service animals in public areas. Violation of the Service Animal Access Act can result in a Class C misdemeanor.
2. White Cane Law
The White Cane Law protects the rights of people with disabilities to work, socialize, and participate in economic exchanges. Violation of the law can result in a Class A misdemeanor.
Registering Your Service Dog in Illinois
Illinois House Bill 3905 (HB 3905) was introduced in March of 2020 to curb the misrepresentation of service animals. Fraudulent service dogs make the work of legitimate service dogs difficult because they degrade public trust. Only legitimate service dog owners should obtain service dog registrations and paraphernalia to help build an honorable reputation with the public.