I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people understand and recognize the rights of individuals who own service dogs. Nevertheless, it can still be a murky subject with lingering misconceptions.
The following is a small compilation of things you might not have realized about service dogs.
Quick Stats on Service Dogs for Depression:
From March to April 2017, a voluntary, online and anonymous survey was conducted in collaboration between Colorado State University and North Carolina State University.
505 participants were asked to define the roles and rights of therapy dogs. Most got it right and felt that service dogs serve a useful and specific purpose whereas there was some concern about the overall legitimacy of emotional support dogs.
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1. The Double-Edged Sword of the Law
The Department of Justice issued some revisions to the Americans with Disabilities Act a few years ago confirming that a person with a legitimate service dog cannot be refused service and they must allow the dog onto the premises.
Governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the general public must allow service dogs to access all areas open to the public.
To further protect the person with the service dog, business owners can only ask
- if the person requires a service dog because of a disability,
- and what type of work the animal can do.
That’s great for the people who truly need service dogs. Unfortunately, it also places false protection on the heads of those operating under fraudulent pretenses.
It’s one thing to pretend you need a service dog, and an entirely different thing when selling a service dog under fall pretenses.
2. Spot A Fraudster a Mile Away
A service dog is a working dog, not a pet; however, handlers are not required to outfit the dog with any type of vest or identification making it difficult to spot the real-deal from the fake.
To detect a fake service dog, observe the dog’s behavior and attention to the handler. A trained service dog, under normal circumstances, won’t cause trouble. The dog won’t bark, jump, climb, steal food from plates, whine, or lunge at other animals or people.
3. Service Dog Owners are Getting a Bad Rap.
People with disabilities who genuinely benefit from service dogs are not always met with enthusiasm.
It’s important to remember the person with a service dog isn’t getting any special discounts or preferential treatment necessarily. What they get is a dog who helps them live life to their fullest potential.
- Retrieve medications
- Recognize the signs of a panic attack
- Apply deep pressure therapy by lying across the handler’s body
- Recognize the signs of a panic attack
- Bring a telephone
- Block people from crowding you to help prevent panic
- Detect subtle changes in your heart rate.
Service dogs require very specific training whereas an emotional support dog requires none.
4. First Steps in Applying for a Service Dog
Applying for a service dog usually starts with an application and a doctor’s note stating your requirements. Depending on the organization, you might be asked to pay a deposit. Once you’ve been accepted as an applicant, you could be placed on a wait list.
The cost of a service dog can range anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 depending on the organization. Many non-profit organizations will act on your behalf to help fund-raise the money.
Because there is no certification process for service dogs, it’s also possible to train your own dog for your specific needs.
5. Miniature Horses Can Also be Used as Service Guides.
People also use miniature horses as support/guides and those animals must also be allowed on public property and building/businesses when accompanied by the handler.
The same rules apply as above, as long as the handler is able to tell the business owner specifically what it is trained to assist with, the animal is permitted inside.
Some airlines have actually permitted service animals to fly. A few exceptions include a peacock and a hamster.
Legitimate service dogs/animals provide comfort and essential care to people who would otherwise have a diminished quality of life. Scammers, unfortunately, exist and they want to profit from your disability.
Something to Think About
The health and well-being of the service dog handler are important, but how much thought is given to dogs with similar disorders?
When applying for a service dog, get references, have a family member or trusted friend assist you, and ask specific questions, like how many training hours the dog has had, specifically what the dog is trained to do, and if you can see a demonstration.
In addition, you can ask for a copy of their mission statement or company policies. Ask where the trainer was trained and whether they provide any follow-up care or services if the dog doesn’t work out.
Task vs Emotional Support Dogs
Any finally, pay attention to terminology when looking for emotional support dogs do not require any training whatsoever. A service dog, however, is required to learn specific tasks.
Regardless of the type of dog you have, businesses do have the right to ask that you remove the dog from the premises if it is out of control, not housebroken, and not kept on a leash at all times.