There are many rights that you have as a service dog owner and you might not even be aware of them. As outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, service dogs are able to provide the support needed by many individuals with disabilities in order to live independently. Service dogs are trained to perform a variety of duties, including assisting and guiding the blind, protection during seizures, assisting the deaf, helping the mobility-challenged, and calming anyone with conditions like PTSD; to name a few. And according to the law, any size or breed of dog can be a service dog.
There are many disabilities that may warrant a service dog, including the list above. And legally, a service dog doesn’t require any type of identification or certification. In order to qualify under the ADA, the work or task a dog is performing has to be directly related to your disability. Emotional support dogs do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, but there are many rights who do have for those animals.
Rights and Privileges
ADA Service Dog Laws outlaw discrimination against disabled people with service animals in almost every public place, including places of employment, accommodations, state and local government locations and activities, and even transportation and commercial facilities.
And when it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only two questions are allowed to be asked.
Specifically, according to the ADAt, “staff at any location may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”
Where the Rights Apply
While service dogs are legally allowed anywhere the public is, there are several rules and stipulations you need to be aware of. For example, in a hospital, you are allowed to have your dog with you in areas like patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, and common examination rooms. But you are not allowed to have your dog in sterile environments, such as operating rooms and burn units.
According to the ADA, “service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.”
The ADA guidelines also point out some further areas of clarification:
- No one can deny access based on allergies or a fear of your dog. Different locations should be offered to those with these problems.
- You can’t be asked to remove your dog unless you have lost control and don’t take action to correct it; or if your dog is not housebroken. If these situations occur and you are asked to remove your dog, you must be offered your service opportunity without the dog on site.
- Restaurants and eating establishments have to allow service animals in public areas; regardless of state or local health codes.
- You can’t be alone and separated from other customers or treated differently. If a location requires a pet deposit or a special fee, that amount should be waived for you and your service dog.
- If a business has a damage fee, you are responsible for any damage you and your dog cause, if any.
- While you have these rights, public establishments are not required to feed or care for your animal.
There is no doubt that your service dog can dramatically improve your life; allowing you to live more freely and independently. But, unfortunately, many individuals do not always comply with or even know about these ADA guidelines; and this, in turn, can cause you grief when traveling around with your dog.
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