What do you know about Service Dogs? How educated are you about them?
If you are like most people, when someone says "Service Dog", the image of a blind person with a dog probably pops into your head. However, Service Dogs are not just for the blind or those in wheelchairs. There are a wide variety of Service Dogs and they serve a wide variety of people in a number of different ways.
Service dogs vs. Emotional Support dogs vs. Therapy dogs:
Service Animals help with performing a function for a person that is limited by a disability. They are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means that they can, by Federal Law, go anywhere and do anything in America with their handler, and no one can stop them. Literally. But it also means they have to be well trained and exceptionally well behaved.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) help individuals with emotional problems by providing comfort and support.
They are protected by the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, which means they can go onto air planes for free and are allowed in all housing, regardless of pet policies. They don't need any sort of special training, but they do have to be prescribed by a doctor or therapist of some sort.
Therapy Animals provide affection and comfort to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. These guys are protected by no law. They are usually well trained though and are very friendly and they are only allowed to go to hospitals, nursing homes, and some schools.
The different types of Service Dogs:
Not all disabilities are visible.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a little broad on the topic, but here are a few disabilities that qualify for the use of a service dog:
Where do you get a service dog?:
Anywhere dogs are sold. Seriously!
Depending on your disability and needs, you can take the 10 year old dog that's already in your back yard and turn it into a fantastic Service Dog.
If you need a dog with some advanced training, such as a seeing eye dog, then there are organizations that specifically breed, raise, or rescue dogs and train them for that purpose. The same goes for every other kind of Service Dog.
There are so many places you can get Service Dogs, I can't even list them all. You can find one - or several - in just about every state (except in Oklahoma, apparently *glares at Oklahoma*)
But, you can train your own Service Dog. I am currently training Pilot, my dog, to be a Hearing Alert dog! (Don't ask how that is going - don't even ask.)
You can find great books and DVDs all across the internet on how to train your own Service Dog. Here is a list of the Top 10 Best Service Dog Training Resources (my favorites, personally, are the Teamwork and Teamwork II books/DVDs).
What makes a service dog legitimate?:
Basically, if your dog can do the basic heel, sit, down, and stay, be controlled in public, and it can assist you in at least one major way, then it is a Service Dog. Plain and simple. You don't have to register it anywhere, it doesn't have to wear a vest, and it doesn't even need to be professionally trained. If you say it's a Service Dog, and can demonstrate a decent measure of control in public, then by law you have a legit Service Dog.
You can make it even more legit by getting a Service Dog vest, a collar and leash that say SERVICE DOG, and a fancy holographic Service Dog Tag. You can even pay a little money and have your Service Dog registered. All of that stuff makes traveling with a Service Dog easier, but it isn't required.
So, that is the very basic in-a-nutshell version of "All About Service Dogs". If you have any questions, or would like some more information, don't be afraid to ask in the comments below. I'll be happy to help you out!
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Self-published author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion, she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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