Wednesday, October 9, 2013

(Don't) Pet my (Service) Monkey; Top 3 types of legitimate companions

Nothing boils a Service Dog handler's blood more than: 
1. Being questioned in public about our LEGITIMATE DOGS
2. Seeing what appears to be "fakers" among us...

Let's get clear about something right off the batt- There are typically 3 type of service animals one may observe in public places:

(SERVICE ANIMAL ADA law says must be a dog or mini pony)

1. Psychiatric Support Dogs- These dogs help those who have served our country (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- PTSD) Previously, before May of 2012, the handler needed to carry a prescription or signed diagnosis from their doctor. Businesses were asking for proof of paperwork. I hope this clears up why "ID/paperwork" is so commonly asked for these days to everyone handling a dog. DO NOT DISCREDIT THE VALIDITY of these animals to their handlers. Psychiatric disorders may also include, but are not limited to; bipolar disease & schizophremnia.   

Remember this blog? ---> "Why do YOU need a service animal?"

Recap: Businesses may ask these 2 questions below, which means exposure to answer them... 
  1. Is your dog a service animal?
  2. What task/s do they perform? (Further details in above article you may click).
2. Seeing Eye and "Wheelchair" Companion dogs (Which are also task trained dogs). These are dogs we never question. Obvious disability = obvious answers. So the public is satisfied. For the most part.
2a. Medical Alert dogs- Stability dogs for the mobile impaired, Seizure RESPONSE dogs, Autism Companions (stem-calming) and Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs). Yes, we fall into the same category. Invisible disease = obvious questions. And the public is not satisfied. For the most part.

If you haven't read the article above- hop on over now. The problem is we want to explain ourselves with "proof," so we get cards with ADA law, or ID tags with our organization pic/logo; SOMETHING to help "ward off" questions from a legal standpoint. Truth be- it's not necessary, but it's helpful. To all.

"Scammer" websites who know that most people don't have this knowledge, make "pet ID's," etc. and now ANYONE has access to making their dogs look like service animals. Vests and tags. The whole kaboodle. It's done a dis-service to us and will continue to!
Click Here for---> Cesar Milan's Article  about Fake-Service Dogs being the Real Problem
Last but not least, we have the ever-so-popularly-titled...
3. Therapy dogs- Most (legitimate ones) go through therapy dog organizations and get proper obedience training. People take their own dogs, even, to get qualified. These animals sole purpose is to bring comfort to those in hospitals, or visit children in other INVITED public places such as libraries, etc. They are not allowed to travel by public transit like other service dogs are.

*And non-service animals you may hear about: Emotional Support Animals. These can be snakes, kittens, birds- (A MONKEY)... you name it. They help their home-bound owner keep comfort at home. You should not see these animals in public.
I'm going out on a limb to say...No.

Highland Springs Pet Services Blog:
"An Emotional Support Animal is any animal which provides comfort to their disabled or elderly handler simply by their presence.  Emotional Support Animal Handlers do have some legal protections in housing and in air travel."
(Thanks to Rebecca Wright & visit her blog for a more thorough explanation on Therapy vs. Emotional Service animals.)

Trained by an organization or not, "certified" or not, therapy, psychiatric, mobility or medical alert- ANY DOG that is not behaving in a setting can be asked to LEAVE.

Do we rally for legislation? What can WE do?

  • Consider how many gov- regulated things are successfully in operation.
  • Where will the money come from? (undoubtably us)
  • WILL it make it easier to our daily lives with our service animals, or bring more hassle?
If you've read my article, "Is your DAD a Seeing EYE DOG?" the end of it reads,"What do we need?" EDUCATION! "Who's gonna do it?" We are!
And that remains TRUE.
Haven't gotten your service dog yet? 
Please consider this: 
Take it upon yourself, to go into your local businesses. Hand out the ADA law in writing, on a flyer, with your (short) story on it. Prepare your 30 sec "blurp." GET USED to talking. You're going to have a dog at your side, after all.

IDEAS: Make Vista Print cards with your info on it and ADA law, OR print up ADA law card like this one:

What have you found useful? Has your public experience/observation been minimal or do you have frequent issues? Would love to hear your feedback!
CLICK HERE for Public Access Resource List

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.
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Article regarding Cesar Millian's fake "service dog" with accompanying photo.

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  4. Also It was encouraged for me to include I am writing from CA and because state to state laws differ (especially on ESA's), I made a blanket statement based on Federal Law. I would still love to discuss via email before I change anything- so feel free to contact me anytime!