August 3, 2015
No matter your politics, I think you’ll join me in saluting the United States Department of Justice for its clarification on service animals – FAQs on Service Animals. As a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, I see SO much inconsistent information on the subject. “I have heard stories from well-intentioned dog lovers — and even witnessed — what I would consider law-stretching and boundary-crossing. Some of these actions risk endangering the public, and putting dogs at risk too. Plus, they could create situations where laws would be changed that negatively impacted those that really need services dogs.” We encourage you to read through all of the FAQs on Service Animals.
Written in clear, concise language, the FAQs on Service Animals starts with the basic questions “What is a service animal?” and moves into the more complex, such as “What does under control mean? Do service animals have to be on a leash? Do they have to be quiet and not bark?” (Yes, that is one question. Question #27, to be exact.)
You’ll find surprising information, too. Check out Question #17. “Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?” The answer is: “No.” Well shoot, I got this one wrong! “Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.” And you may be surprised to learn that service animals don’t need to wear a yellow vest or an ID tag, special harness, or any color vest, for that matter.
See if you know the answers to these questions. Check your answers here: FAQs on Service Animals.
- #31 – Are stores required to allow service animals to be placed in a shopping cart?
- #32 – Are restaurants, bars, and other places that serve food or drink required to allow service animals to be seated on chairs or allow the animal to be fed at the table?
- #33 – Are gyms, fitness centers, hotels, or municipalities that have swimming pools required to allow a service animal in the pool with its handler?
The DOJ clearly spells out the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs. Therapy dogs, sometimes called comfort or companion animals, provide comfort by being with a person and have not been trained to perform a specific job or task. But we think they should be able to pass one of the various 10-step evaluations such as the one provided by Love on a Leash to ensure they have the skills to be comfortable and polite in public. And, by the way, misrepresenting a dog as a service dog is pretty serious business. Don’t do it.
The Love on a Leash nonprofit is a wonderful resource for learning more about therapy dogs. And how your dog can become one. As a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, I am eligible to administer the Love on a Leash. If you would like more information on the process, or would like your inquisitive canine to be tested, we invite you to contact us.
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Wanna share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.