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Author Topic: What is a service dog  (Read 159 times)

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Offline jeff

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What is a service dog
« on: June 27, 2016, 05:25:40 PM »

In the United States, the applicable law covering places of public accommodation is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.[1] In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section issued "ADA 2010 Revised Requirements; Service Animals." It states that:

    "Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."[2]

This revised definition excludes all comfort animals, which are pets that owners keep with them solely for emotional reasons that do not ameliorate their symptoms of a recognized "disability"; animals that do ameliorate the conditions of a medical disability, however, such as animals that ameliorate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, are included in the definition. Unlike a service animal, a comfort animal is one that has not been trained to perform specific tasks directly related to the person's disability. Common tasks for service animals include flipping light switches, picking up dropped objects, alerting the person to an alarm, reducing the anxiety of a person with post-traumatic stress disorder by putting its head on the patient, or similar disability-related tasks.[3] A service dog may still provide help people with emotions related to psychiatric disabilities, but the dog must be trained to perform specific actions, such as distracting the person when he becomes anxious or engages in stimming or other behaviors related to his disability.

While the ADA has narrowed the definition of service animals that are required to be permitted in places of public accommodation, other laws still provide broader definitions in other areas. For instance, the Department of Transportation's regulations enacting the Air Carrier Access Act permit "dogs and other service animals" to accompany passengers on commercial airlines.[4] The Fair Housing Act also requires housing providers to permit service animals (including comfort and emotional support animals) without species restrictions in housing.[5]

Because there is no certification of service animals in the United States, staff must take declaration of an animal's service status at face value, and furthermore are restricted in the questions they may ask about the animal:

    When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person's disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.[2]

Therapy dogs are usually not regarded as service dogs, but can be one with some organizations.

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