Many people are aware of the increasing scrutiny surrounding service dog owners in this day and age. Increasingly, people are also learning more about the amazing duties that service dogs can perform for their handlers. Which leads us to a very fundamental question that many people ask us - "is my dog a service dog"? Typically, but not always, the answer is "if you have to ask, your dog is likely not a service animal".
It is important to understand that service dogs engage in hundreds and hundreds of hours of training. A service dog is not a dog that is prescribed to help relieve your anxiety during a flight - that sort of dog is called an Emotional Support Animal and the vest you order in that instance should read "Emotional Support Animal", not "Service Dog".
So what is a Service Dog? When we answer that question, we keep it very black and white and answer according to current Federal Regulations. Currently, the United States government has this to say about what a service dog is (and we quote):
_ Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
_ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
_ Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.
It is actually a pretty simple definition, yet completely full of complications. Today's service dog is not contained to the mold of what most people think of when they hear the term service dog; a German Shepherd acting as a Guide Dog (although this is certainly a legal instance of a Service Dog). No, today's service animal does everything from alerting to deadly allergy threats to waking up a PTSD victim during distress. The definition is broadening - that's for sure.