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Posted on February 10, 2014
When most people see a service dog they automatically assume it is a seeing eye dog. I get that all the time when I am out with my mobility service dog. I hear parents telling their children, “Don’t pet that dog, it’s a working dog and is guiding that blind person.” That’s because the seeing eye guide dog is so ingrained in Americans’ minds, they don’t realize there are so many different types of service dogs performing a huge range of functions for many types of disabilities. People are usually very surprised to find out just how many different types of service dogs there are besides seeing eye dogs.
The ADA ( Americans with Disabilities Act ) states that Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Examples of such tasks are
Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support and Therapy dogs do not qualify as service animals under ADA. Therapy Dog and Service dog are vastly different. A service dog is any animal that has been individually trained to provide assistance or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits one or more major life functions. Some states have their own laws which follow up on the federal law in more detail.
A Therapy Dog refers to a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, mental institutions, schools, and stressful situations such as disaster areas and do not have the same rights and public access as a service dog.
Service Dogs must be allowed to go anywhere their handler goes, including restaurants, schools, buses, taxis, airplanes, stores, movie theatres, concerts, sporting events, doctor’s offices, and any other public place. It is REQUIRED under
federal and state laws that they be allowed. They do not have to wear any specific identifying gear, including service dog vests , but many chose to do so to avoid confrontations and make access easier and avoid questions, but it is NOT REQUIRED UNDER THE LAW.
It is also illegal to be asked for any special identification from Service Dog organizations. Many people do carry ID cards, and may present them voluntarily, but this is not required, and should not be expected. You may NOT be asked for
“proof” or certification of your dog’s training as a condition of entry into any business. The only questions that can be asked : “Is this dog a service dog?” and “What task has this dog been trained to do?”
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