Service Dog Registration Guide
Service dogs are an amazing medical tool and are often underutilized due to a confusion in Service Dog regulations. We will go through what a service dog is, who can qualify to have a service dog, where you are allowed to take your service dog, and the benefits of completing your service dog registration.
If you qualify for a Service Dog and go through the proper steps to train your dog, you may want to register your Service Dog so that you can provide your registration card and identify your animal as a service dog. There are many people out there that do not know the rules surrounding service dogs and having a Service Dog ID card can help to mitigate conflict.
What is a Service Dog?
A Service Dog is an assistance animal that is specifically trained in aid in a mental, emotional, or physical disability. Service Dogs must always be in the control of their handler and must service a specific function for their handler’s disability. A certified Service Dog should not pull their handler or bark at others when in public, unprovoked.
Service Dog regulations are governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is different than Emotional Support Animals which are governed by Fair Housing and the Air Carrier Access Act.
Even if you you have completed your Service Dog registration, your service dog can still be denied access if it is not well behaved.
Service Dogs are distinctly different from emotional support animals. Emotional support animals are also a class of assistance animals, but do not require the same amount of training as Service Dogs and therefore do not enjoy the same access rights. If you are interested in an ESA, read more here. It is important to know the difference so that you can determine which animal is best for you and your needs.
Service Dogs can go into restaurants, hotels, beaches, in the workplace, airplanes, and are granted housing access.
Emotional Support Animals only have access to air travel and housing. You may choose to register both your Service Dog or our Emotional Support Animal. If you have an Emotional Support Animal, you will also need an ESA Letter from a licensed mental health professional as registration alone is not sufficient. You may request an ESA letter from your therapist, if you need help guidance with how to find a therapist who is well versed in ESA regulations, you may read this post.
Qualifying for a Service Dog
Once you have identified your disability, your next step is to identify what task your dog can perform to help aid in your disability.
A common misunderstanding is that Service Dogs are required to be professionally trained. This is untrue. If you are capable, you are allowed to train your service dog yourself! For many people, paying $20K for a service dog isn’t feasible so being able to train your own service dog is an important right. Even if you choose to hire a trainer or purchase a trained Service Dog, you may still choose to register your new Service Dog for your own convenience.
Don’t qualify for a service dog? You may qualify for an emotional support animal. Read more about emotional support animals here.
Where are Service Dogs allowed to go?
In short, you are allowed to go everywhere that you are allowed to go with your service dog.
As touched on earlier, Service Dogs are not the same as Emotional Support Animals but people can confuse the two. In order to avoid any issues when traveling with your Service Dog, its important to be well versed in your rights and how to handle any confrontations.
If you expect to be traveling with your Service Dog, you may choose to order an ID card and Service Dog Vest. The ADA is clear that both items are not required but the reality is that people are not well aware of ADA regulations and you may experience unpleasant confrontations without it. It is always up to you if you want to stand your ground and educate those who are not well aware of Service Dog rules or you may prefer to have your Service Dog ID handy. There is no right answer, do what is best for you.
Once you have requested access for your Service Dog, you are never required to disclose your disability to anyone. If you are asked to disclose your disability or asked to demonstrate your Service Dog’s tasks as a condition for granting reasonable accommodation (aka access to wherever you need to go), you may report that business or establishment to the ADA.
The ADA exists to protect people with disability and if any business is denying access without due cause they need to be reported.
From time to time, the person you are dealing with just may be unaware of service dog regulations. If you encounter an employee who is dying access “because pets aren’t allowed”, your next step is to request to speak with a manager. We advise against arguing with any employee regarding your Service Dog to avoid escalation. If you are unable to speak with a manager for any reason, ask for the employees name so you may report them to the ADA.
Service Dog Registration
Service Dogs are an important tool and we are lucky to have them. By knowing your rights, you can travel comfortably with your dog. If you would like to register your Service Dog and have your Service Dog ID handy when traveling with your service dog, you can start by completing the Service Dog Registration form below.
You will be able to order a Service Dog identification kit and register your animal in an international database of service dogs and handlers. You will also be able to pull up your Service Dog ID and registration card using your mobile device anywhere. To complete the service dog registration process, complete the form in the link below.