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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Service Animals

I really love to take my dogs places!!!  It's fun for us and great for socializing our young dogs.  But we can't and don't take them everywhere.  That is a privilege reserved for service dogs and they work hard to earn that privilege.

Or they should work hard to earn that privilege.  I get comments all the time from people that they have this really good dog they like to be with, so they are going to just tell people their dog is a service dog.  Poof!  A wave of their magic wand and they have a service dog!  Or they take it to the next level and buy a service dog vest or ID for their dog and take the dog everywhere with them.  No work involved.  No regard for people who truly need service dogs.

Unfortunately, sometimes service dogs are denied access and that's perfectly legal.  Many times they are denied access because of a previous bad experience with a dog or other service animal in that particular place.  I can't blame them.  If someone brings their "service dog" into a restaurant for example, and the "service dog" table surfs someone's steak and lobster dinner off the table, that is not setting anyone up for success!!!  And it happens!!!

I am so thankful for what service dogs can do for people!!!  But if people are going to go to the effort to have a service dog, train, train, train your service dog.  Set high expectations and require both the handler and the dog to attain them.  Set the example of good and wonderful behavior, not the example of why businesses should not allow service dog access.

And if you don't have a diagnosed disability, don't pass off your dog as a service dog.  It's not honest and it's not fair.  Use great websites like to find places that allow your dog to come with you.

From the ADA, effective March 15, 2011: 

"Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition."

The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop:


Pup Fan said...

Great post... totally agree with the message!

Monica said...

Even monkeys need to follow this rule!!! :-D

buchelesk9s -- Ken and Laurie Buchele said...

Yes, even monkeys!!! ;)

Amy said...

Great post and I completely agree. It's not fair for people with disabilities to cheat the system and make it more difficult for those with challenges to get access to the places they need to go. We actually have a service dog vest for our Shar-pei, Ty, who is afraid of strangers - but we never use it to take him places pets are not allowed. Also, thanks so much for the mention of the website. We're working really hard to find places people can take their pets without breaking the rules.

Jen said...

I love to see Service Dog education, and actually had a discussion with my boss about it last week (I think) because it seemed like a lot of staff didn't know the rules. Heck, I didn't necessarily know the rules, but I was conversant with them. Didn't want somebody to get arrested because they kicked a service dog out of the library! How rude. Though I do wish there were more places people could take their pets, faking a service animal isn't a win situation.

Also, I wanted to mention that I passed on a blog award to you!

Anonymous said...

Great post - but check the new ADA the disability does not have to directly relate to the "handler's" disability. There a number of people (including children) who have task trained service animal who is handled for them by another person - a three party team. The new version of the ADA clarified this just before it went into affect on March 15, 2011.