A service dog is a dog that has been trained specifically to perform tasks for individuals who have disabilities. Just like the wide range of disabilities that qualify the need of a service dog, so are the wide range of trained tasks that they can perform. Some of the talents that Service Dogs can perform range from navigation for people who are hearing or visually impaired, to assisting in a seizure, to calming anxiety. In some cases, they may be depended on for everyday tasks to get through the day.
What are the legalities of owning a Service Dog?
These amazing dogs not only make great pets, but they are protected under federal law when they are differentiated from normal pets! The Americans with Disabilities Act entitles an individual with a disability to have their service dog with them in public places. Public places include but are not limited to, airlines, public parks, stores, and housing that may not necessarily be “pet” friendly. This law protects these Service Dogs in these areas because an animal needs to be with their owner for unforeseen emergencies.
What does a Service Dog look like?
Service dogs can only be identified by their vest or tag, marking or identifying that the dog is not just another pet, but a trained service animal. This can be very important to have for travel, daily trips outside the home, and in rental situations where the disabled person may reside. Having your Service Dog registered means that any breed and any disability can be protected by the ADA, a vest or tag will be an essential factor in visually differentiating your animal.
Where can they go & what does the public need to know?
Disabilities are you and your health providers sole knowledge, as an owner of a Service Dog, you DO NOT need to disclose your disability, and legally CANNOT be asked. Service dogs and their owners are protected under ADA and therefore CANNOT be asked the details of what specifically requires your Service Dog to be with you at all times. The protection from ADA can allow the owner of a service dog to travel anywhere that an average house pet is prohibited.
Flying with your Service Dog
Flying isn’t everyone’s first choice in travel, although many people find themselves doing it to visit family, timely travel for work and other life necessities. Airlines want to cut down on weight in the air, valuable space for seating, and leave only the necessary extra room for emergency or lifesaving tools. With a Service Dog vest, an individual with a disability can clearly differentiate their dog as absolutely life-saving and necessary. This can be especially important if the individual’s disability isn’t necessarily visible from first glance. When official Service Dogs wear their vest on a plane, it helps airline employees, flight attendants, pilots, and airport officials that your Service Dog is LIFESAVING and NECESSARY.
Living with your Service Dog
Service Dogs need to live with the individual with disabilities and provide consistent 24/7 help to their owners. This requires them to be in approximate areas, ADA protects them completely when they’re being utilized at home, even if the individual with a disability lives in a home that has a landlord/alternative owner. Because the ADA protects service dogs and their owners, having the animal at home is an essential part of being an effective tool for disabilities.