Facts to Know About Service Animals

  • What Type of Animal Can Be a Service Animal?
  • Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
  • Is Owner Required to Provide Proof or Documentation?
  • Can A Property or Business Owner Ask Questions About the Disability?
  • Must the Service Dog Be Professionally Trained?

It’s not at all uncommon today to see people entering public places with animals, especially the ones that fall under the category of a service animal. In recent years, there has been more and more documented proof of how beneficial animals can be to people with disabilities. There are also a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding the rights of a service animal and even which animals can be categorized as service animals. Here are five important facts regarding service dogs or animals.

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1. What Type of Animal Can Be a Service Animal?

Since service animals first came to be, they have come in many sizes and species. Animals such as dolphins, cats, dogs, parrots, miniature horses, monkeys, ferrets, and even ducks have been trained to perform some sort of service duty. However, the Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a specific legal definition of what is and is not a service animal. According to the ADA’s rules, a service animal is a dog that has been specifically trained to perform tasks for a disabled individual and the tasks must be related to the individual’s disability.

2. Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?

A service dog can go anywhere the dog’s owner or handler is allowed to go, including restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals and even places where pets are not allowed. If the person is allowed entry into a facility, the service dog must also be allowed entry.

3. Is Owner Required to Provide Proof or Documentation?

The dog’s owner or handler is not required to provide any documentation on the dog or any documentation stating that the dog is a service animal. There is no legal requirement stating that service dogs must be registered or documented. Some individuals may have their dog wear a service dog vest to avoid confusion and unnecessary questions, but there is no legal requirement.

4. Can A Property or Business Owner Ask Questions About the Disability?

If it’s not really apparent that a dog is a service animal, a property owner may only ask two questions. The owner can ask if the service dog is required because of a disability and what type of work the dog is trained to do. He cannot ask what the person’s disability is or ask for any proof or documentation that the dog is a service animal.

5. Must the Service Dog Be Professionally Trained?

Although professionals dealing in social work often take care of helping clients get a service dog, the client can have his or her own dog and can train the dog himself. The client is not required to have it professionally trained. The dog should be able to provide a service for the owner. The service should be something the client needs due to his or her disability. Another important fact to remember is that service dogs are not the same as companion or therapy dogs.

A service animal can be just what its name implies. It’s an animal who has been specifically trained to provide services to a disabled individual. The disability must be one that affects a person’s normal life and must be approved by the Department of Justice ADA. Everyone should be aware of the laws regarding service dogs so they may continue to do their job and not be mistaken for pets. Anyone with questions is encouraged to check with the ADA regarding service dog laws.

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