What is a Service Animal?
A service animal is usually a dog but can be a miniature horse, bird, ferret, pig, or even a goat that assists a disabled person in specific tasks.
These disabilities that service dogs assist for can vary tremendously, some service dogs are even trained to dial 911 on the event of an emergency. From the ADA
Can I get a Service Dog?
First you must he have a disability though there are no limitations that this disability may fall under.
Secondly the dog must perform a specific task related to the disability. In legality only these two requirements are written in stone for having a service dog.
If you are currently looking for a service dog, check out our breed comparison.
Is There a Governing Body?
Kind of, there are three bills passed by congress that make up the foundation for the right to own a service dog.
1) The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was revised in 2010 to include definitions for service animals these articles give the over 20,000 service animals in the US and their owners protection to bring their dogs in businesses and on flights.
2) Furthermore, the Air Carrier Access Act allows service animals to accompany passengers on airplanes and the
3) Fair Housing Amendments Act covers the dog in housing.
What are Some Physical Impairments that Use Service Dogs?
Arithritis – For retrieving dropped items, opening doors, carrying items, pulling wheelchairs up ramps, turning on lights, and assisting in exchanges at banks or stores.
Ataxia - To aid in walking by being a less invasive counter-balance than another human.
Autism - Safety and an emotional anchor for the child, check out Autism Service Dogs of America for more info
Blindness - Used as a mobility aid and can be given orders such has “Find the door” or “Find the elevator.”
Deafness - Hearing dog to notify by touch of alerts or alarms, check out Dogs for the deaf for more info
Diabetes - Can detect low blood sugar with smell, check out Diabetic Assistance Dogs for more info
Cardio Disease – Can alert owner on drops in blood pressure by placing head on owners heart (signal for a heart emergency.)
Cerebral Palsy - Used for physical stability and seizure alert, dog can also be trained to roll its owner into the proper position during the event of a seizure.
Parkinson’s Disease - Dog is able to sense the “freezing moment” experienced by people with Parkinson’s, and can solve the issue by pulling forward gently on the leash.
Muscular Dystrophy - Will retrieve items dropped on the floor
Multiple Sclerosis – Balance dog to help sit, stand up, and get in and out of bed.
Psychiatric Disabilities – Used to interrupt repetitive injurious behaviors or to relieve stressful situations. Check out our article on PTSD Service Dogs!
Seizures – Dog can aid as a balance, roll owner over into the proper position, and even alert medical personnel when a seizure is imminent.
Spinal Cord/Head Trauma - Helps with balance and dropped items
And many more….
Do I Need A Letter From A Doctor To Qualify?
No, it isn’t necessary to have one, if someone challenges the legitimacy of your service dog you will need to have proof of either your dog or your disability. We give out free identification certificates that you can carry around with you to solve this problem. Get certificate here!
Can an Institution Block Your Service Dog From Entering?
No! The ADA supersedes all local/state laws. Your service dog should be allowed in every building should you need it.