Service Dogs

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):

"The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.
Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

_ 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.

A service animal is not a pet."

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.

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