Posts Tagged ‘service animal’

A disability doesn’t end at the doors of a school. For the most part, a school may be where a child or young adult learns to navigate the world with their disability. Because service dogs are part of how a person manages their disability, a service dog must be involved in a child or young adult’s development and can indeed accompany their owner to school.

Show everyone that the rights of your service dog should be respected. Get your service dog registered below.

What are Service Dogs? 

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is a service animal trained to take on a task for a person with a disability. The task that the dog performs has to be related directly to the person’s disability. This task is often something the person can not achieve on their own and necessary for safety or daily life. 

For example, some dogs receive training to detect impending seizures in a person with epilepsy. Others can identify low blood sugar in diabetic patients. Service dogs are vital to the mental and physical well-being of the person they serve and are covered by federal law. 

Service dogs are similar to but different from emotional support animals (ESA) and therapy animals. Service dogs are specifically trained for a person’s disability and perform vital tasks that can not be executed by the person they serve. Service dogs are not pets. They are a medical tool to help their owners overcome the hardships of the disability. 

What are Their Rights? 

Because service dogs are crucial to their owners’ well-being and quality of life, they fall under federal law. They are allowed to go wherever their owner goes, whether it be a business, a public park, or a school. 

A service dog can be taken to school to continue the assistance to their owner. Service Dog in Primary and Secondary School

Two federal laws apply directly to service dogs’ presence for students with disabilities in public schools: 

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Title II of the ADA is broad and allows for civil protections for all individuals with disabilities. The law does not allow any discrimination by federal, state, and local governments. This law includes all public schools. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation ActSection 504 does not allow discrimination against people with a disability in programs that receive federal funds, including public schools.  

These two federal laws permit a student with a disability to use a service dog in schools. These students cannot receive unfavorable treatment or be charged fees that are not the same as those for students without service dogs. These students are not allowed to be isolated or set apart from others because of their service dog. The fear of a dog or allergies is not sufficient reason to deny a service dog’s presence within a school, but the school may offer the use of other locations when possible. 

In short, service dogs are allowed in universities and K-12 grade public school campuses for students with disabilities. Students with service dogs can’t be penalized in any way for having a service dog. However, the care and grooming of the service dog should be determined beforehand, especially in the case of small children. 

Service Dogs in College

Individuals with a disability may use a service animal on their campus and in their dorms. The Fair Housing Act covers both service animals and emotional support animals in housing areas and dormitories. However, only service animals remain covered under the ADA regarding other areas of the campus. The ADA allows service animals into classrooms and other university facilities. 

However, it’s important to remember that the person with the disability has the responsibility for the care and grooming of the dog. Also, the dog can’t be dangerous or disruptive and must be under the owner’s control at all times. 

Service Dogs and Students

A service dog offers a person with a disability the freedom to participate in the world around them. Taking away a service dog deprives a child, adolescent, or young adult the ability to foster their independence and achieve their goals more fully. A service dog is not a pet, but an extension of a youth’s mastery over their disability. 

Service Dog as Part of the Education

Learning to live with their disability requires a service dog’s assistance, and learning to live with their disability is part of why they are in school. Allowing the full use of their rights enables students to empower and educate themselves in a supportive environment. Through a well-rounded education and life experience, children and young adults with disabilities can grow into productive adults. Federal laws recognize this need, and schools must abide by them, for the benefit of all. 

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. 

Registered Service Dogs are required to be well trained must be under their handler’s control. 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. 

Qualifying for a Service Dog 

If you experience an emotional, mental, or physical disability, you qualify for a Service Dog. For more information and a list of disability that may qualify you for a Service Dog, read here

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

You are permitted to train your Service Dog yourself. How to Register your Service Dog

If you want to register your dog as a service dog, your dog must provide a service for your disability. A professional trainer is not required for your dogs to be called a service dog. If you are in need of a service dog, you may personally train your dog to provide a service for your disability. 

To register your Service Dog, you can start your Service Dog Registration process online by entering your information along with your animal’s information here

To register your service dog, complete the registration in the link below.

Service Dog Regulations

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. 

To qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, you need an ESA letter. Registration is not sufficient.  Do I need an Doctor’s note for my Service Dog?

Service dogs do not require a note or letter from a doctor. If your dog is trained to provide a service for your disability, a doctor’s note or letter is not required. 

If your animal does not provide a service or task for your disability, but instead provides comfort and support, you will need a note from a doctor to qualify your animal as an emotional support animal

A doctor’s note is not required for a service dog. However, if you need an ESA, a doctor’s note is required.  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. 

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. 

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. 

Service Dogs have public access rights. This includes no dog beaches, restaurants, air travel, hotels, and no-pet housing.  Going to Public Places with your Service Dog

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. 

If your Service Dog is denied access, you may report the business 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. 

For those wondering what disabilities qualify for individual assistance animals, it can be hard to determine which kind would offer the best in terms of service and companionship. Service animals and emotional support animals can get confusing from time to time. Here is a basic outline of what the similarities and differences are between service dogs and emotional support animals to help you determine what kind of animal you qualify for:

Service Animals: Service animals can be dogs or miniature horses and must be trained to provide a task for their disabled owners.

Dogs (and miniature horses) only – Under the American Disabilities Act, only dogs can be eligible as service animals. These animals are legally recognized under government policies as having specific rights and qualifications in comparison to other animals due to their ability to be trained in particular tasks and handle a person’s disability. Miniature horses also have recognition under the ADA but have other provisions regarding them.

Have advanced levels of training specific to a person’s disability – Service dogs are trained in tasks related to a person’s disability, as well as house training and other jobs. For instance, guide dogs, a type of service dog, must be trained to help assist a disabled person who is blind or visually impaired.

Have nationally-recognized certification programs – Organizations such as Assistance Dogs International have certification and training programs for service animals. The ADA requires that service animals be trained to help serve their disabled owners.

Have access to public spaces – The ADA allows service animals to have access to public spaces. Business owners, managers, and staff have limited access to the questions they can ask in regards to service animals and their disabled owners.

Emotional Support Animals:

Can range in a wide variety of animals – Animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs can all qualify as emotional support animals. ESAs are considered to be “owned pets,” unlike service animals. While there are no limits to what an ESA can be, it’s essential to take into account the state legislature and their definitions of what ESAs are.

ESAs are not specially trained to perform tasks- As of current, there is no national legislation regulating the training that qualifies ESAs. Although numerous organizations can help train ESAs, ESAs are not federally recognized as a kind of service animal. Although coined under the terms assistance animals or companion animals, training ESAs are considered optional, but recommended.

Do not have access to public spaces – ESAs operate under different legislation in terms of its definition, such as the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Hence, ESAs have limited access to public spaces.

Require a licensed professional to be considered an ESA – Pets/animals can only be considered ESAs if they have an ESA letter written and approved by a mental health licensed professional, including therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists. By having an ESA letter, ESAs can gain access to housing despite no pets policies and can be carried through air travel.

Both provide assistance related to a person’s disability, but how they perform those services differ from other another. They both are also not required to be trained professionally, as each owner can help self-train their animals to serve specific tasks. Both service dogs and emotional support animals

Legal protections for a service dog Service dogs are protected under the ADA and can go wherever their owners go.

The Department of Justice published the Americans with Disabilities Act to show the requirements related to service dogs. By providing regulations about service dogs, the ADA can help clarify issues related to service dogs. The ADA has legal protections outlined for public awareness, aiming at educating people the regulations involved with service animals, which include:

Staff may ask only two specific questions in regards to service dogs: Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? And what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff is thus not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require demonstrations of the dog’s abilities, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability. For businesses that serve the public goods and services, the ADA does not require those entities to modify policies if it would “fundamentally alter” the nature of those services provided to the public. This would be considered an exception for staff to prohibit a service animal if the animal alters those services. Service dogs may be excluded if the handler cannot control the animal. Controlling the animal refers to the service dog being under the handler’s control at all times. The animal must be leashed, harnessed or tethered while in public places unless it interferes with the service animal’s ability to perform its tasks. If those methods of control interfere, the handler must use voice, signal or other means to control the animal.

These are a few examples of the protections that service dogs have to the public. These service animals have legal protections as long as the handler has control and adequate training in place for the animal so it can perform its duties for the disabled owner.

Legal protections for Emotional Support Animals Emotional support animals are protected by the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act.

While ESAs don’t have specific protections under the ADA, there are other federal legislations that help clarify the definitions of ESAs and their rights within those limited spaces.

Emotional support animals have specifical protections and protocols, according to the Department of Housing’s Fair Housing Act of 1988. Under the Fair Housing Act, ESAs are categorized under the term assistance animals, which the FHA defines them as animals that work, provide assistance and perform tasks for a person with a disability, or provides emotional support alleviating one or more symptoms of a person’s disability. Landlords must modify their policies to permit a person with a disability to live with a service animal or emotional support animal. For those with ESAs, the applicant for housing may need to submit medical documentation, such as an ESA letter, showing the animal provides support and mitigates one symptom of that person’s disability.  

The Department of Transportation mentions emotional support animals under the Air Carrier Access Act, which outlines the prohibits of discriminatory practices against those with disabilities. While airline reserve the right to exclude animals that are too large, pose threats, cause disturbances, and are illegal in foreign countries, for those with an ESA, airlines require specific documentation and 48-hours advanced notice for emotional support animals. Owners with an ESA, documentation must be presented, which can include:

Having a mental disorder recognized under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) There is an expressed need for the emotional support animal to accommodate during air travel. The assessment must be presented by a licensed mental health professional and show that the passenger is under his/her professional care If the licensed professional isn’t present, the documentation must show the professional’s date and type of license and jurisdiction where their license was issued. Which disabilities qualify for a service dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as individuals with a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities. These disabilities can range from physical to psychological, but the person must be regarded as an impairment and have a record of that impairment. Physical or mental disabilities can include diseases, visual, speech and hearing impairments, psychological conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, mental retardation, and health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, drug addiction, and alcoholism. If the impairment limits activities central to everyday life, such as eating, speaking, walking, and performing manual tasks, then the person can qualify as disabled under the ADA and thus qualify for a service dog.

Which disabilities qualify for an ESA?

Emotional support animals perform disability-related functions focusing on providing emotional support, aiding in mental disabilities such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. ESA’s focus more on mental and emotional disabilities than physical. While the Fair Housing Act combines emotional support animals under the term assistance animals, a person with a disability who has an ESA must be able to show a tenant that they have a mental impairment, show record of that mental impairment, and be regarded as disabled due to this impairment. (HUD).

The (ACAA) has specific qualifications for those with mental disabilities who have an ESA. Those disabilities must be listed under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to show the specific need for the emotional support animal as an accommodation for air travel. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists the total number of mental disorders, relied upon by mental health professionals and legal systems to determine mental disorders and help clarify those with disabilities.

Depending on the type of disability you have, both service dogs and emotional support animals offer benefits and different areas of specialties. If you desire a service animal or emotional support animal, speak with your health professional about your options and discuss with them what opportunities will serve you best.