How to Register a Dog as a Service Dog in Texas
Service dogs provide disabled individuals the assistance they need to help them lead full and independent lives. Many tasks that non-disabled individuals take for granted including opening a door, pushing a button for an elevator, or picking an object up off the floor are difficult or impossible for some disabled individuals, and a service dog can be trained to do these tasks for them. Service dogs are not pets and therefore afforded more rights and the ability to go where pets cannot including restaurants, doctors offices, public transportation, etc. These rights are outlined in The Americans with Disabilities Act, and it is important for disabled individuals who require a service dog to know and understand their rights.
According to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the definition of disability is:
Before the passing of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disabled individuals were routinely denied rights and services based on their disability. Some of the discrimination disabled individuals faced included:
- Being refused service at a restaurant.
- Employers refusing to hire based on their disability.
- Lower pay for disabled individuals.
- Prevented from buying goods at a grocery store.
- Individuals requiring wheelchairs could not ride public transportation without leaving their wheelchairs behind.
Before the passing of the ADA individuals with disabilities were routinely discriminated against based solely on their disability. Individuals who required wheelchairs were told they could not ride a public bus unless they abandoned their wheelchairs, restaurants had the right to refuse service to individuals with disabilities, employers could outright refuse to hire someone because they were disabled, and even public libraries would deny denying disabled individuals the right to check out books. With the passing of the ADA disabled individuals were able to have more freedom and became less dependent on others.
Service Dog Defined
According to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the definition of a service dog is:
“any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, do not service animals for the purposes of this definition.”
Examples of the tasks that service dogs provide in accordance with The Americans with Disabilities Act are listed below:
- Guiding people who have low vision or are blind.
- Alerting people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
- Provide non-violent protection.
- Pulling a disabled person in a wheelchair.
- Retrieving items.
- Alerting people with severe allergies to the presence of allergens.
- Provide assistance and support for people with stability or mobility disabilities.
- Calm a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.
It is important to understand that service dogs are not pets; they provide vital services to disabled individuals that they cannot do for themselves. Service dogs are permitted to go with their handler wherever the general public is allowed including restaurants, hospitals, schools, or other places that would generally not allow dogs.
Registering a Service Dog in Texas
Service dogs are not required to be registered or certified by the State of Texas. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that clearly states service dogs are allowed to accompany their handler in public places by simply stating their dog is a service dog.
Registering your dog as a service dog is easy. Follow the steps below to register your service dog.
- Establish your need for a service dog for your disability
- Train your service dog to provide a task for your disability
- Register your dog with a reputable organization like Service Dog Certifications
Furthermore, Texas service dog laws specifically state:
“Public establishments may only ask if the service animal is required because the person has a disability and what type of work the service animal is trained to perform.”
Also, Texas Service Dog Laws also provide the following information regarding service dogs:
- Any individual or individuals that deny disabled individuals who require the assistance of a service dog access are subject to criminal penalties including fines of up to $300 and 30 hours of community service.
- Disabled individuals who require service dogs cannot be charged extra for their service dog unless the service dog causes damage.
- Public facilities and transportation are required to allow entrance for disabled individuals and their service dog.
- Individuals with service dogs must be provided with full and equal access to housing, and they are not required to pay extra for their service dog.
- Provides Texas state employees up to ten days of paid leave to attend training programs designed for disabled individuals and their service dog.
While The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law and all states must comply with the rules and regulations outlined in the law, Texas provides its residents with detailed rules applying to service animals. If you or anyone you know lives in Texas and requires a service dog it is important that they know and understand their legal rights and they can view them by clicking here.
With the passing of The Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled individuals gained more freedom and provided the civil rights that had been taken away from them. This freedom is enhanced by the ability to utilize service animals to help disabled individuals with everyday tasks that they could not perform themselves, as well as the ability to have their service dog accompany them anywhere they went. Service dogs have clear and specific rights under The Americans with Disabilities Act and are not required to be registered nor are they required to carry any identification or proof that they are service dogs. If you or someone you know requires the use of a service animal, it is important to know and understand your legal rights and where to go if you need to file a complaint if you feel you have faced discrimination based on your disability or use of a service dog. For all the information you need regarding The Americans with Disabilities Act click here.