Posts Tagged ‘service animals’

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dog owners have special legal rights. The ADA allows service dogs to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where the public is allowed to go. This includes businesses such as stores and restaurants, and public areas such as parks, beaches, and libraries

Under the ADA, a disability is defined as someone who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” or “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.”

Owners of service dogs use their animals to help with a wide variety of disabilities. Generally, the disability can be:

A physical disability, such as mobility issues, blindness, and hearing impairment. A psychiatric condition, such as panic disorder, severe depression, and PTSD.

Regardless of the type of disability the owner has, the service dog must be trained to work or perform tasks related to the disability. In the article, we will address four specific topics.

#1 – A service dog must have special training #2 – Registrations, IDs, vests and other accessories are frequently used and helpful, but optional  #3 – Service dogs have special rights for housing #4 – Service dogs can travel with their handlers, even on flights #1 – A service dog must have special training

By definition, a service dog must be individually trained to work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. The task that the service dog is trained to perform must be directly related to the owner’s disability.

For example, a service dog can be trained to assist a visually impaired person walk around in public environments or to pull a wheelchair for someone with limited mobility. Service dogs also help people with psychiatric conditions by performing tasks such as reminding their owners to take medication or providing pressure therapy during panic or anxiety attacks. 

In addition to the special training a service dog needs to help with a person’s disability, it’s also important for the service dog to master basic obedience training. Under ADA rules, a service dog must always be under the control of its handler. Service dogs must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered (unless it prevents the service dog from effectively performing its tasks). If the use of a harness, leash, or tether is unsuitable, the owner must maintain control of their service dog through voice, signal, or other means. 

A good service dog should be able to maintain discipline and focus on its owner in public areas, especially those that are busy and filled with potentially distracting stimuli. It can be useful to subject the service dog to a public access test to ensure that is ready to enter public environments filled with people, animals, and other distractions. 

A service dog can be trained by a professional or by the handler. There is no requirement to hire a professional or to take any particular course — if the handler is capable, they can train their service dog on their own. Training a dog to perform tasks reliably for a disability takes time, patience, and know-how. 

If you have limited knowledge and experience in training a canine, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer. A dog trainer can be helpful even if you plan to do most of the training yourself — they can give you a framework for training and useful tips. 

#2 – Registrations, IDs, vests and other accessories are frequently used and helpful, but optional 

When you see a service dog owner out in public, you will often see the dog wearing a vest, and the handler will have an identification card that likely contains a registration number.

Service dog handlers commonly use Service Dog IDs and vest primarily for a couple of reasons:

They help indicate to others in the public that their dog is a working service animal that should not be bothered They help maintain privacy by curbing unwanted and intrusive inquiries about the service dog.

One common misconception regarding service dogs is that there is a legal requirement for them to be registered or to wear a vest. Some people also think that an identification card is mandatory for service dog owners. Contrary to these beliefs, service dog owners are not required to register their dogs, carry IDs, or have their service dogs wear vests.

Service dog owners use these items voluntarily because they are useful. A staff person at a public establishment however cannot demand that a service dog owner show an ID card or put a vest on their dog in order to be granted accommodation on the premises. Many service dog owners find ID cards and vests essential for being out in public. Most people are unaware of the specific details regarding ADA rules, and these tools provide an easy shortcut for service dog handlers to indicate that their dog is not a normal pet. If you’re interested in registering your service dog in a database, you can get started by clicking on the link below.

Once your dog is registered, you can order a service dog ID card, service dog certification, and even order a service dog vest. Again, while these items are optional, many service dog owners find them incredibly helpful. 

All service dog owners should understand they have a right to privacy when they are out in public. If it is obvious what service the service dog provides, staff at a public establishment are not allowed to make any inquiries regarding your service dog. If it is not obvious what service the dog provides, staff can only ask two questions:

Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and if so, What work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

They can’t ask a service dog owner for further details regarding their disability or require that the handler demonstrate that the dog can perform the task it has been trained for. 

#3 – Service dogs have special rights for housing

Service dogs have special housing rights that are not granted to normal pets. If you are a service dog owner, you are permitted under Fair Housing rules to live with your service dog, even if your building has a strict policy that bans all pets. For purposes of Fair Housing laws, service dogs are not considered pets, and any policy that may apply to pets are inapplicable. 

For example, if the building allows pets but not dogs over 50 pounds, or the building bans certain breeds such as Pitbulls or Great Danes, those rules do not apply to service dogs. A housing provider cannot prevent a tenant from keeping a service dog in their home because the dog is of a certain breed or weight. 

A landlord can only deny accommodation of a service dog in limited circumstances, such as if they determine that the service dog poses a safety or health threat to others. As with all service dogs, landlords can only verify a disabled person’s need for a service dog by asking the two questions discussed in the previous section. Unlike an emotional support animal which requires a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional, a service dog does not need any documented credentials. 

#4 – Service dogs can travel with their handlers, even on flights

Service dogs are also allowed to travel and fly with their handler. This means they can ride on public transportation such as trains and buses, and also in taxis. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners in the airplane cabin as well.

Travelling can be a stressful experience for any dog. It’s important that a service dog has been trained to handle situations such as crowded airports, trains, and airplane cabins. A service can be denied accommodation if it is disruptive and not under the control of its handler. Service dogs intended to be used for travel should be exposed to a wide variety of situations, so they remain calm when faced with novel environments. It’s important to properly acclimate a service dog for the type of journey you’re taking. For example, it’s recommended to start with shorter trips on a plane or the bus so your service dog can learn to maintain their composure when flying with you through turbulence on longer trips or on a bus or train when it is crowded and bumpy.

If you are ready to register your service dog, click on the image below.
Service Animal Laws

 Did you know that only dogs and miniature horses are recognized as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? This Federal law has been put into place to protect the rights of those individuals with a disability and their need for a service dog. These specially trained animals are not pets, but are there to help the person with specific tasks that they cannot do for themselves. For this reason, service dogs are allowed into all public areas without exception.

Service Animal Laws By State

Service Animals are federally protected and have full access rights in all 50 states. A California Service Dog has the same rights as a Texas Service Dog or even a Florida Service Dog.

Each state may also has several different laws put into place to protect both the service dog and the handler. These laws include;

1). Animal Accommodation Laws – this law prevents the discrimination towards the service dog in all public areas, including housing and public transportation. This law also states that no additional fees can be charged to the disabled individual for having a service dog. 2). Criminal Interference Laws – most of the states protect the service animal from criminal interference, theft, and assault. Some states like California charge up to a $10,000 fine and/or a one-year imprisonment for intentionally causing harm to a service dog. Other states view any willful interference with a service dog as a misdemeanor offense. The only states that do not appear to have this law in place are Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, and West Virginia. 3). Licensing Laws – approximately half the states have waived the licensing fee when it comes to service animals. However, some states may require proof that the service dog is needed or even an affidavit before this law will be in effect. 4). Disabled Pedestrian Laws – also known as the “White Cane Law,” this is put into place to protect the service dog and individual when crossing streets and intersections. This law requires all drivers to use reasonable precautions before proceeding as may be necessary to avoid injury to a person and the service dog. 5). Service Animal Misrepresentation Laws – 18 states consider it a misdemeanor crime to fraudulently represent the need for a service dog. This includes those individuals using a service dog vest, orange leash or harness on an animal other than one that has been defined as a service dog in that state.

Because laws may vary from state-to-state, it’s always best to look into your city’s requirements concerning a service dog.

Service Dog Training

Since a service dog is a working animal, the training it has is extensive. In fact, it can take up to 2 years to fully train a dog for service. However, there are no federal guidelines on how long it takes to train a service dog and some dogs can be trained in a few weeks or months depending on their temperament, intelligence, and age.

Two important areas the service dog is trained in are public access and the disability-related task(s).

1). Public access training ensures the dog is well behaved and always under its handler’s control. Examples of public access training the canine has are; – No barking – No lunging – No begging for food – No jumping on strangers – A service dog’s attention and focus must always be on its handler and not its surroundings or the activities going on in the area. 2). The second part of the service dog’s job is to be trained in the specific disability-related task. This can include; – Getting medication from medical bag – Picking up dropped items for handler such as wallet or keys – Alerting the handler to a drop in blood sugar or of an oncoming seizure – Calling emergency services – Opening doors or drawers

Should My Service Dog Wear a Vest?

Although it is not required by law for your service dog to wear a vest, it’s is recommended. Service dog vests alert the public to your need for this animal. This reduces the hassle you may encounter with owners/managers of public places, such as restaurants and movie theaters.

The service dog vest also tells the general public to not interact with your dog because its focus needs to be on you. This is especially important if your disability is not obvious such as those who suffer from seizures, to migraines, or anxiety/depression.

Does My Service Dog Need a Letter of Certification?

As long as your disability falls under the ADA list, and your dog is performing a task for yourself, you do not need a letter of certification for your service dog. However, you may want to register your dog with Service Dog Certifications for convenience and security.

Service dog agencies provide the handler with a custom identification card and certificate that will comes with a number of benefits. In addition, your dog will also be listed in the national databank of service dogs for third party verification.

Do I need a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal?

As we defined earlier, a service dog must be able to perform a task that the individual cannot do for themselves and that individual must have a disability that is listed by the ADA. Some people may not fall within these parameters. In these cases, an emotional support animal may be recommended.

The emotional support animal does not require any specialized training but is purely there to offer unconditional support, love, and companionship to those that suffer from an emotional or mental disability.

The ESA can be of any species and are still allowed some rights under Federal law. Emotional support animals now have to be accepted into “no pets” policy rental homes/apartments and also into the cabin of an aircraft at no additional cost to the handler.

Unlike a service dog, emotional support animals are required to have an ESA letter from a licensed therapist.

Service Dog Benefits

Service dogs serve those individuals that need them the most. If you have a disability ask your healthcare professional if a service dog may be a benefit to you. Don’t stop living a normal, active life if a service dog can be that extra helping paw you need.

 

Having a cat brings the same positive effects as dogs. These pets can be equally beneficial to a person’s health. Experts have proven that cat owners are less likely to have a health emergency, such as a heart attack, with their feline companion around and cats have also been proven to help alleviate sleeping disorders, high blood pressure and other health problems.

But can cats be trained to work just like service dogs do? Are they extended the same adjustments as service dogs?

The law on service animals has been established for years and recognizes dogs as the most common provider. The provisions in the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stated: “The term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities. The term service animal does not include wild animals (including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including a pony, pig, or goat), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents.  Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals.”

However, on March 15, 2011, the ADA amended this provision to certify that dogs are the only recognized service animals (see amendments here) so as to prevent confusions from the public. So, where does this leave cats? Why are there people having cats as their service animals?

Can cats be service animals?

No, but cats can qualify as emotional support animals if you have doctor write a letter for an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals can fly in the cabin of an aircraft and can live in “no pets” apartments, but they do not have the same level of access as service animals and cannot be taken everywhere service dogs are allowed. In this case, cats cannot be extended the same acknowledgement as service dogs.

However, certain establishments might be willing to make adjustments and could make exceptions on a case to case basis for cat owners. It’s best to check with management before bringing the cat to their premises to avoid any untoward incidence.

Looking to Certify your Cat as an ESA Online?