My Service Dog, Jade

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What is a Service Dog

Who can have a Service Dog

Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.
Only dogs can be service animals -- no other species have rights as service animals.

Service dogs must be:
  1. Trained -- Under control, on-leash, and housebroken;
  2. Trained -- to do work or perform tasks that mitigate a disability.
Training Time: If your dog has an appropriate temperament, expect to spend at least 1-2 years training a dog to certification. Training a dog requires a lot of time and patience, and you must be willing to commit to working with your dog on a daily basis. Eligibility Requirements
Your dog is NOT a service dog:
  • Just because you have a disability. The dog must be trained to do something that is directly related to your disability (for example -- you cannot take your Chihuahua into the grocery store because you have difficulty walking);
  • Because he makes you feel good, provides emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship. These are not trained tasks. This is an Emotional Support Dog. Emotional Support Dogs do not have public access rights.
  • Because you have a letter from your doctor stating that you would benefit from having a dog. In order to be a Service Dog, the dog must be trained and appropriate for service work;
  • If he is a protection or guard dog. Even if you have PTSD, anxiety, or feel vulnerable because of your disability, service dogs cannot be trained for protection. Service dogs must be quiet, tolerant, and mild-mannered. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, call us about the service tasks that your dog can be trained to do for you.

Be aware that you are responsible and legally liable for any damage or injury that your dog causes.
Most people cannot recognize the signs of stress and fear in their dogs. Stressed dogs can bite. Don't risk medical expenses and a lawsuit -- leave your dog at home unless it has been assessed and trained.

This means that one cannot just take their dog with them anywhere they go because they want to, or because their dog makes them feel good, or makes them feel less stressed.  

It also means that a THERAPY DOG is NOT THE SAME THING AS A SERVICE DOG. I stress this because many people have this confused.  Many people think that because their dog is a "therapy dog" that they have full public access rights and can take that dog anywhere. This is NOT true. A Therapy Dog is only allowed in certain places, like hospitals, nursing facilities, etc, and that's ONLY IF they have prior authorization from the organization/facility. 
You do NOT have to be disabled to have a Therapy Dog, but you DO have to be disabled, with written PROOF from a Physician, to have a Service Dog. 

I've heard many people say, after seeing me with my Service Dog, that they want to train their dog for service as well. I always ask them if they're disabled, because if they're NOT disabled, then they don't need a service dog, and don't have the authority to have one in public unless they plan on giving it to a disabled person after its been trained. Many people don't understand this. They think if they train their dog to be a Service Dog then they can take their dog everywhere with them. NO! They MUST be disabled to have a trained Service Dog, or else what exactly is the dog helping them with?  A Service Dog is with its handler to "help mitigate a certain disability that the handler suffers from."  Therefore, no disability, no Service Dog. 
I think it's important that everyone knows this.  I run into several people a day who have NO IDEA what the laws are when it comes to Service Dogs. I can't fault them, because most of them are not disabled.  That's why I started this blog. People need to know. 
Also, if there's one thing I can't stress enough, it's this....
DO NOT PET someone's SERVICE DOG, unless you have asked and have permission from the handler. 

DO NOT MAKE FACES AT, STARE AT, or TALK TO anyone's SERVICE DOG....EVER, without first talking to the handler and getting permission to TALK to their dog. 

STARING AT, MAKING FACES AT, and TALKING TO someone's SERVICE DOG when it is working is VERY DISTRACTING for the dog and handler. IT'S RUDE, DON'T DO IT! 


  1. It's amazing how many people take advantage of the "service dog" status. I saw a man in the grocery store recently with a vested dog OFF LEASH. The dog was not staying close to his owner and sniffing the bread on the bottom shelf. When I told the store manager, he said he was to worried about getting sued so he let the man shop with his dog of leash.

  2. Please sign the petition to end the use of FAKE service animals, which is harming people who are truly disabled and creating a public nuisance: