Abuse of service goes to the dogs

There is a video going around FaceBook showing an altercation between a man and a store manager due to the profession by the man that his dog is a “service” dog and therefore allowed in the store. The man with the dog is rude and uses unnecessarily abusive language and that…for me…loses him some credibility.

I have an acquaintance who insists his “emotional support” dog is a service dog and wonders why I don’t go online and get my Maltese “certified” or “registered” as a service dog.
Oh, you really want my answer to him…1. Because emotional support and comfort dogs ARE NOT SERVICE DOGS!!! 2. Because an internet “certification” or “registration” DOES NOT make my dog a service dog. It only enriches the seller of the paper or symbol. 3. Because she has not been trained to DO anything (except obedience, which EVERY dog should have regardless) 4. Because Maltese were bred solely as companion dogs, so she’s just doing her thing.

There is so much ignorance and just plain abuse about the terms, service dog, therapy dog, comfort dog, emotional support dog, working dog AND about the applicable laws, it is causing problems for homeowners, store owners, managers, the general public, not to mention the BONA FIDE service dog owners!
I want to help clarify the terms, the law and educate people in my small sphere as best I can.

The following URL will take you to a page which discusses with clarity and examples some consequences of faking it with service dogs. It is well worth the read. There are also links to other valuable information, answers and education so you can browse at your leisure and learn as much or as little as you need.
http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/595

Briefly I submit this:

How can you tell a REAL service dog if ID cards and certificates are actually meaningless? The US Department of Justice permits businesses to ask two questions ONLY:
1. Is this a service dog required because of disability?
2. What is it trained to do to mitigate the disability?

Service dogs are protected under the 1990 Code of Federal Regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation provides access to service animals working with their humans in any area where the public is permitted.

Establishments may reject a service animal if it is aggressive, unsafe or disruptive (e.g., excessive or prolonged barking).

Service animal owners may also be charged for any damages caused by them or their service animals.

In order to qualify as a service dog, first YOU must qualify as legally disabled. Not all people with diabetes will be disabled by it. Most won’t be. The same with a mental illness diagnosis. Whether either or both conditions disable you or not is a discussion to have with your medical providers.

Once you establish you qualify for a service dog, the dog has to be trained to perform tasks that mitigate your disability.

“Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals.” — US Department of Justice (the agency that literally wrote the legal definition for “service animal”)

“[A]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals…” so a service animal must be specifically trained to DO something.

A service animal is individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the disability of his owner. Training typically takes 18-24 months. Because of his advanced training, a service dog is considered medical equipment and is permitted to accompany his disabled owner to many places where pets are not permitted.

The owner of an emotional support animal has no more right than any other pet owner to take their emotional support animal with them other to keep one in a home where pets are not permitted or to fly with one in a cabin when pets are not permitted.

A therapy dog is legally a pet. It is not permitted to go anywhere that pets aren’t without permission from the facility owner. These are the dogs that go into hospitals and such. The objective of registration is to show facility managers that this dog is well behaved, safe around people, and insured against liability. It is not a license to walk into a hospital or nursing home without permission.

In short: service dog works to help the owner perform tasks he cannot perform on his own because of his disability, an emotional support animal works to improve the health of his owner who is disabled, and the therapy animal works with his owner to improve the health of others.

Other helpful websites:
The Difference Between Service, Therapy, Assistance and Working Dogs
http://www.petsadviser.com/service-animal/service-dog-vs-therapy-dog-vs-working-dog/

Certification/Qualification
http://www.servicedogsamerica.org/faq.html

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