What is a Service Dog?
A service dog, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, is any dog that acts to guide, signal or is trained to help someone with a disability. Most often, people tend to think of guide dogs that lead the blind, dogs that sense when an epileptic seizure is about to happen, or even dogs that can alert a deaf individual to a doorbell or ringing telephone. Today, however, service dogs go far beyond helping those with an obvious physical disability. Service dogs are also used to help people who suffer from a psychiatric disability. Included in this type of disability are post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and even anxiety disorders. In order for a dog rendering just such service to qualify as a service dog, it must be trained to perform specific tasks that will benefit the owner and not simply offer comfort.
Make Sure to Register Your Service Dog
All owners of service dogs should make sure that their animal is registered. This small step can mean the difference between being allowed to enter different places as you go about your daily life. If you have ever wondered how to register a service dog, the answer is just a click away. USA Service Dogs provides thorough screenings and complete registrations for your animal. Carrying the registration with you when you will be going to a restaurant, a movie, or even getting a taxi cab is always a good idea.
Have the Proper Documentation
Service dogs typically wear some sort of vest to signify that they are, indeed, a service animal. Though the ADA guidelines do not allow the owners of an establishment to ask for proof of your disability, some might ask to see your dog’s registration. Being able to provide proof of your dog’s registration can bring great peace of mind.
Where Are Service Dogs Allowed?
With proper service dog certification, your dog is actually allowed anywhere that people are allowed. To turn away someone with a service dog has been classified as discrimination, so owners and managers are usually accommodating. Here are some of the locations that must accept service dogs with their owners:
• Grocery stores
• Shopping malls
• Public Libraries
• Medical Offices
What About Health Department Regulations?
Some restaurant owners have worried that having a dog in their establishment will get them in trouble with the Health Department. Sometimes, they go as far as posting signs in the window to alert animal owners that they are not allowed inside. Since a service dog registration falls under the protection of the ADA, it actually has more importance and trumps a department, state, or local law.
Public Transportation and Service Dogs
At times, owners of service dogs must rely on public transportation. Whether you must take the bus, a train, a taxi or an airplane, the law stays the same. If people are allowed onto this type of transportation, the service dogs are allowed on as well. Also, those who have service dogs are not to be separated from other individuals just because they have a dog.
Poorly Behaved Service Dogs
Sadly, there are times when a dog is out of sorts or refuses to follow training or rules that have been set for them. Should your service dog act up in any place, you may be asked to leave. According to the ADA, if your dog is posing a direct threat to the individuals around you, either in health or safety, it is within their legal rights to ask you to leave the location.
You should be properly prepared by knowing the laws and rules about service dog ownership. By doing this, you will feel more comfortable taking your dog with you so that it can offer you the assistance that you need.