Please take a moment to read the information provided to education yourselves on the different types of service dogs and laws regarding them and their handelers.
How Service Animal is defined...
First and foremost... SERVICE ANIMALS ARE NOT PETS.
In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act which took affect as of March 15, 2011 defines a service animal as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals...
■ When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
■ Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
■ A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless:
(1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or
(2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
■ Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
■ People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.
■ If a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by himself or his service animal.
■ Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.
Where service animals are allowed...
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from that State’s attorney general’s office.
Service Animals Must Be Under Control...
Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
Service Dog is the catch all term for any dog that helps a physically or mentally disabled person. You have the following catagories:
Probably the most familiar type of service dog is the guide dog that is trained to help blind or visually impaired people. These dogs serve as the eyes for their owner, navigating them through traffic, stairs and sidewalks while avoiding all obstacles that could cause injury.
Similar to guide dogs, "hearing" or "signal" dogs are specially trained to assist deaf people. They alert their owner to sounds, usually by approaching their owner and then by going back to the source of the sound. They signal such noises as doorbells, phones, smoke alarms, crying babies, microwave bells and even tea kettles whistling. These dogs have the same access privileges as guide dogs and are permitted in all public and private facilities.
Mobility Assist Dog: Pulls a person's wheelchair, carries things in a backpack, picks up things a person drops, opens/closes doors, helps the handler get dressed or undressed.
Walker Dog: Helps the handler walk by balancing or acting as a counter balance. Does many of the tasks that the Mobility Assist Dog does.
Seizure Alert/Response/Assist Dog: Please note that seizure alert, response and assist dogs are not the same. Whereas seizure-alert dogs assist their human companions before a seizure occurs, seizure-response or–assist dogs assist during and after a seizure. This behavior can be innate or trained. Seizure-assist dogs can be trained to stay close to their companions for the duration of the seizure as well as fetch medications, a telephone or caretaker. A seizure-assist dog is trained to assist the human companion, but may or may not alert. Training for these dogs that can detect an oncoming seizure is very specific because people that suffer seizures demonstrate different behavior before and during the debilitating event. Seizure alert dogs are trained to notify their handlers that a seizure is coming on. Their job is to insure the safety of their handler and they are responsible for getting their owner to safety before the onset of the seizure. The dogs are often capable of summoning medical help, providing physical support if needed and arousing the handler if he or she is unconscious. Few organizations train seizure alert dogs because the training is very specific to each person.
Psychiatric Service Dog: These types of service dogs are ones that is specifically trained to assist individuals that suffer from psychiatric disabilities that range from post-traumatic stress to schizophrenia. The dogs are trained to help their handler with tasks in emergency situations. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to provide environmental assessment in the event that the handler has hallucinations or shows signs of paranoia. These dogs are also trained to alert their handlers when the first signs of danger appear. Please click HERE to read more on service dog tasks for psyciatric disabilities. Ssig Serice Dog: A dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping). A person with autism may have problems with sensory input and need the same support services from a dog that a dog might give to a person who is blind or deaf. They also can help them perform daily activities, allowing them to gain the necessary confidence to help them become independent. The autism service dog can help them through these trying times. For example, an autism service dog can coax their handler to get out of a burning building. The dogs also perform simpler tasks such as alerting their handler to a baby crying or a ringing telephone or doorbell. Autism service dogs make good babysitters for young children who suffer from autism. The dogs are trained to alert the parents should the child become involved in an emergency or dangerous situation. Click HERE to read an insightful article on children with autism.
Service dogs for Diabetics: These dogs are trained to help people with diabetes. They are trained to be able to identify minor scent changes that occur when a diabetic suffers from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Service dogs for diabetes are trained to beware of the changing levels of their handler’s condition. They can alert their master to check blood sugar levels and take necessary medications because they are trained to detect faint changes in the handler’s scent. Their training includes alerting medical response teams.
Medical Service dogs for Asbergers: In addition to providing an overall calming effect on the individual, there are a number of tasks the dogs will be taught including finding the person (child) if lost, serving as a stationary ballast in the case of elopement, providing redirection away from repetitive behaviors, etc. When paired with a service dog, adults and children with aspergers often have better sleep patterns, less anger and frustration and increased social interaction.
Narcolepsy Response/Alert Dog: Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day. Service dogs cannot predict cataplexy attacks like many who predict epileptic seizures. And no, your service dog doesn't keep you awake while driving. Epileptics brains actually give off signals ahead of an actual seizure, and a seizure alert dog senses those signals and is taught to tug on their owner (or exhibit some kind of sign) to warn them. Cataplexy does not cause the brain to give off any kind of warning signs. When in public, should an individual have a cataplexy attack, the dog becomes a medical alert dog, meaning that if they're found collapsed and unresponsive, with the dog lying by their side, the individual is easily identified as having a medical condition and the dog typically wears a medical alert laminated card that hangs from their vest (along with their certification) that explains what is happening to the owner and what to do, and more importantly, what not to do. Click HERE to read a heartwarming story written by a woman who's life has been saved be a narcolepsy alert dog.
RSD/CRPS Service Dogs: Also referred to as asthma alert/response dogs. These are dogs that sense before a person has a severe incapacitating asthma attack and notifies the person of the impending asthma attack giving the person time to take medication, remove the person from the asthma trigger(s), and/or get to a safe place. They can also be trained to retrieve an inhaler.
Migraine Alert, Cancer Detection,William's Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, AND MANY MANY MORE DISEASES, SYNDROMES, and DISORDERS that our beloved four legged friends can help us with.
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional
support (ESA) do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act. Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from that State’s attorney general’s office.
This revised definition excludes all comfort animals, which are pets that owners keep with them for emotional reasons- ESA (For example, the owner may feel calmer when he or she is near the pet). Unlike a service animal, a comfort animal is not trained to perform specific tasks directly related to the person's disability. Common tasks for service animals include flipping light switches, picking up dropped objects, alerting the person to an alarm, or similar disability-related tasks. A service dog may still provide help to people with psychiatric disabilities, but the dog must be trained to perform specific actions, such as distracting the person when he becomes anxious or engages in stimming or other behaviors related to his disability. We cover more on ESA's below.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA):
Senator George Graham Vest, of Missouri, won a court battle over the shooting of a dog with a speech that included the line, "The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog."
Dogs have shared their lives with humans for at least 14,000 years and possibly much longer. During those millennia dogs have been man's helper, protector, and companion. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 39% of U.S. households include one or more dogs and 34% include one or more cats.
An Emotional Support Animal is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. If a doctor determines that a patient with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal, the doctor write letters supporting a request by the patient to keep the ESA in "no pets" housing or to travel with the ESA in the cabin of an aircraft.
ESAs are not task trained like service dogs are. In fact little training at all is required so long as the animal is reasonably well behaved by pet standards. This means the animal is fully toilet trained and has no bad habits that would disturb neighbors such is frequent or lengthy episodes of barking. The animal should not pose a danger to other tenants or to workmen. But there is no requirement for fancy heeling or mitigating tasks since emotional support animals are not generally taken anywhere pets would not ordinarily go without permission (the exception being to fly in the cabin of an aircraft, even if the airline does not ordinarily accept pets).
For more information about the differences between emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals, please click HERE.
It is important to note that having a diagnosis of a mental illness, by itself, is not sufficient to qualify a person for an ESA unless that illness is so severe it disables them. Only a judge can truly determine whether a person is legally disabled. However, a doctor can probably make a medical determination of a person's disability and on that basis prescribe an ESA. To qualify as disabled under federal disability rights laws, a person must experience substantial limitations on one or more major life activities because of their mental illness.
Studies have shown real health benefits for those living with pets, including:
* lower cholesterol
* lower blood pressure
* lower triglyceride
* reduced stress levels
* reduced feelings of loneliness
* better mental health
* increased activity
* more opportunities for exercise
* more time spent outdoors (for dog owners especially)
* more opportunities for socialization
NOTE: (as we stated above) On March 15, 2011 changes to the definition of "service animal" under the Americans with Disabilities Act became effective. These changes do not affect the use of emotional support animals in housing or on commercial aircraft because those two situations are covered under different federal laws that were not changed when the ADA regulations were changed.
Please click HERE to read an official statement by HUD regarding emotional support animals under housing law.
Service dogs are NOT the same as therapy dogs or companion dogs.
Service animals are NOT pets.