About Service Dogs
Q: What is a service dog?
A: The American with Disabilities Act (28 CFR 36.104) defines the term "service animal" as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.
When people hear “service dog”, they generally think of Guide Dogs. However, service dogs fall into a category all of their own within the realm of Assistance Dogs. There are three types of Assistance dogs:
Guide Dogs - aiding the blind or visually impaired
Hearing Dogs - aiding the deaf or hard of hearing
Service Dogs - aiding those with disabilities other than those listed above, /including Mobility Assistance, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Autism Assistance, Diabetic Alert and Seizure Response/Alert.
Q: So I can just put a jacket on my dog and call it a service dog, right?
A: Wrong! You can only have a service dog if you qualify as a disabled American under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is against the law to pass a dog off as a service dog if you do not have a disability. It is also against the law to claim your dog as a service dog if it is not trained to do tasks that specifically aid your disability.
It's not as much fun to take a dog into public as you might think. You get a lot of attention from the public, and that attention isn't always positive. Our dogs are trained and socialized beginning at 8 weeks old to handle going out into public. It would be a miserable experience for you and the dog if you haven't done the proper training.
Q: I have a therapy dog, can I bring him/her wherever I go?
A: No, therapy dogs can only go into buildings that they have specifically been given permission to enter. Therapy and visitation dogs visit places like hospitals, nursing homes, and sometimes schools as part of a program or organization.
Q: The jacket says please do not pet…does that actually mean I can’t pet him/her?
A: Yes, unless given permission by the handler of the dog. When our dogs are in jacket, they are working. Always ask before you pet or do anything (call, bark at, or gesture towards) to distract a service dog. If you engage in a “drive-by-pet”, as we call them, you could potentially be reinforcing a bad behavior.
Q: What should I do when I see a service dog?
A: Ignore them! Please! The environments we take our dogs into are already incredibly distracting. Service dogs work very hard to remain focused on their partners needs, and we actually practice ignoring people doing things like talking in baby-talk, whistling, gasping, and offering our dogs food. So it really helps make the dog’s job easier if you refrain from doing anything to get break their attention from their partner.
Q: How can you tell if it’s actually a service dog?
A: When a service dog team enters a building, the dog should remain focused on its partner. Their partner may or may not be obviously disabled.