Today a trip to the store likely involves seeing a service animal assisting their owner while they travel about. If you’re a dog lover, you’ve probably wondered what the process is to get your own furry children trained and certified to accompany you in public places. However, it is important to understand the purpose of a service dog and what specific reason would require your dog to join you in public.
Firstly, the most important and albeit shocking piece of information about service dogs is that the American Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require formal training or certification. If you search “service dog” online, you will immediately be barraged with several sites offering certifications for service dogs. These are not required nor are they recognized as legitimate proof that your dog is a service animal by the Department of Justice. Although professional training is not required, a service dog still must be trained in providing a “service” to you. For example, you may train your own dog to guide you as you walk if you have impaired vision or blindness.
So, now you may be thinking, “Great – I can bring my dog anywhere a service animal is allowed and say: I trained him/her myself.” However, the use of a service dog requires the place you are going, whether a restaurant, store, movie theatre, etc., to make accommodations for you and your service dog. This is based on an honor system that you have some reason you need your dog’s assistance. If you don’t, you could be inconveniencing that place and others around you for no good reason. Moreover, it isn’t fair to those who truly do require their service animal. These places should be reserving their reasonable accommodations for individuals who really do need their dog to provide a service in order to participate in their everyday lives.
In sum, while it would be amazing to take our adorable, loving puppies everywhere we go, it is important to respect the purpose of a service dog. Please only train your pup to be a service dog, and bring them around as such, if you truly need their assistance to function in your everyday life.
For more information on service dogs, and the laws that protect them, please review the AmericanDisabilities Act (ADA) at this link: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html
And finally, as we always say, “If you think you might need an attorney, you probably do.” Contact us before anything is set in stone. We love answering questions!