Service Animals

Our federal laws acknowledge a mentally ill person’s right to CHOOSE his/her disability-mitigating device. Some choose medication. Some choose talk therapy. Some choose mindfulness-based practices or acupuncture. Some choose a psychiatric service dog. A disabled person in the U.S. is allowed to CHOOSE how they wish to mitigate their disability, within reason. This right to free choice cannot be rescinded, modified, or impinged upon by an institutional entity for arbitrary reasons. Provided my psychdog behaves impeccably in public, is non-aggressive, and is indeed trained to assist my disablity, then, my right to use a psychdog is mine, and mine alone
~ Joan Esnayra

 

Invisible Disability, alert for tactile interaction

Definition: The first service dog was a German Shepherd trained in 1929, as a Guide Dog for a blind man.  Today the only animals allowed to become Service Animals are dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses.  No other animals are allowed.

Most people are familiar with Guide Dogs for the Blind or those who have low vision and Hearing Dogs for the deaf or hearing impaired.  Today you will see Service Animals assisting a number of people who have a major life limiting disability if the use of that animal mitigates the disability.

Note: the following text is from the Department of Justice’s revised American’s with Disabilities Act, which became effective March 15, 2011.  These sections are only a small portion of this page http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleII_2010/titleII_2010_withbold.htm.

Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are notservice animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals

with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

Where there are rights, there are responsibilities.
~ Unknown

Veronica and Ollivander

NOTE:  The crime deterrent effects of an animal’spresence and the

provision of emotional support, wellbeing, comfort, or companionship DO NOT constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Source: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleII_2010/titleII_2010_withbold.htm

 

Legal Classification: A Service Dog is somewhat similar to a Medical Assistive Device such as oxygen, a cane or a wheel chair. Just as you would never ask someone to leave their oxygen tank or wheelchair outside, neither would you ask a Service Dog Handler to leave their trained dog outside.

Requirements to Qualify: Disability means, with respect to an individual, a physical ormental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.

§ 35.104 Definitions (below)

(i) The phrase physical or mental impairment means—

Kelsey and Kona

Kelsey and Kona

(A) Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine;

(B) Any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

(ii) The phrase physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease(whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

(iii) The phrase physical or mental impairment does not include homosexuality or bisexuality.

Jeanne and Gracie her service Dane

(2) The phrase major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

(3) The phrase has a record of such an impairment means has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

(4) The phrase is regarded as having an impairment means—

(i) Has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit majorlife activities but that is treated by a public entity as constituting such a limitation;

(ii) Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward such impairment; or

(iii) Has none of the impairments defined in paragraph (1) of this definition but is treated by a public entity as having such an impairment.

§ 35.136 Service animals (below)

  • Retrieving an item from a shelf

    (a) General. Generally, a public entity shall modify its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.

  • (b) Exceptions. A public entity may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if—
    • (1) The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or
    • (2) The animal is not housebroken.
  • (c) If an animal is properly excluded. If a public entity properly excludes a service animal under § 35.136(b), it shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises.
  • (d) Animal under handler’s control. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
  • (e) Care or supervision. A public entity is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.
  • (f) Inquiries. A public entity shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A public entity may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public entity shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, a public entity may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person’s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).

    Golden retriever at home, assisting with laundry.

  • (g) Access to areas of a public entity. Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a public entity’s facilities where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.
  • (h) Surcharges. A public entity shall not ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If a public entity normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
  • (i) Miniature horses.
    • (1) Reasonable modifications. A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.
    • (2) Assessment factors. In determining whether reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, a public entity shall consider—
      • (i) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
      • (ii) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
      • (iii) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
      • (iv) Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
    • (3) Other requirements. Paragraphs 35.136 (c) through (h) of this section, which apply to service animals, shall also apply to miniature horses.

•   Source:  http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleII_2010/titleII_2010_withbold.htm, where there is much, much more info and the latest revisions are in BOLD)

 

Training: There are three levels of training recommended to reach Service Dog status.  The path to take is laid out below, thanks to www.handi-dogs.org

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Permission from Handi-Dogs, Inc.

 

 

 

  1. Basic Obedience, most often determined by passing the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen®  (CGC) test.  More information can be found at http://www.akc.org/events/cgc/program.cfm.
  2. Public Access, where you begin to take the dog out to more places in order to help judge the dog’s ability to remain calm, quiet and well behaved in public.  If your dog is doing well in dog friendly stores, business and in public then you start vesting your dog as a “Service Dog in Training (SDiT).”  Beware:  A Service Dog in Training is NOT covered by the Federal ADA laws.  Rather each state has their own laws that cover SDiT.
    NOTE: At this juncture you need to understand thelaws that apply to your particular situation.  Check to see what rights your state laws allow.  If your state laws do not cover public access for a SDiT you may want to consider starting the process to get them updated.
  3. Work and/or Tasks to mitigate the handler’s disability.  Up until now the training steps remain essentially the same for every handler.  But when you get past the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Program and Public Access portions of your training now you must determine what work and tasks you can teach the dog that will mitigate your disability.

Dog socializing at school. Being trained for child with autism.

One of the questions I’m often asked is “Can Hunka get you a drink out of the refrigerator?”  I always say, “First, I’d never trust Hunka with an open refrigerator!  And, even if I could, I can get my own drink.  So, if I were to teach him that it would be considered a trick, not a task.  Because it doesn’t mitigate my disability.  As far as Hunka is concerned, everything he’s been taught is a trick.  Sit, down, retrieve my meds, heel, stay, front are all tricks to him; tricks for which he gets rewards.  But, under the law the dog must perform work or tasks that mitigate the handlers disability.  Any thing above and beyond that are wonderful tricks!

 

There are two schools of thought for acquiring and training a service dog.  “Program Dogs” or “Owner Trained Dogs”.  Up until this point in the training you could have some

Starting with a puppy you can spend 2 or more years only to discover that your dog simply isn’t cut out to be a service dog.

Some specific resource links are provided for your reading.

http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleIII_2010/titleIII_2010_withbold.htm
Commercial facilities means facilities –

  • (1) Whose operations will affect commerce;
  • (2) That are intended for nonresidential use by a private entity; and

    Indio at Acadia National Park in Maine

  • (3) That are not –
    • (i) Facilities that are covered or expressly exempted from coverage under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S.C. 3601 – 3631);
    • (ii) Aircraft; or
    • (iii) Railroad locomotives, railroad freight cars, railroad cabooses, commuter or intercity passenger rail cars (including coaches, dining cars, sleeping cars, lounge cars, and food service cars), any other railroad cars described in section 242 of the Act or covered under title II of the Act, or railroad rights-of-way. For purposes of this definition, “rail” and “railroad” have the meaning given the term “railroad” in section 202(e) of the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 (45 U.S.C. 431(e)).

http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleIII_2010/titleIII_2010_withbold.htm
(c) Service animals.

Ollie Ver Amtrak

  • (1) General. Generally, a public accommodation shall modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.
  • (2) Exceptions. A public accommodation may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:
    • (i) The animal is out of control and the animal´s handler does not take effective action to control it; or
    • (ii) The animal is not housebroken.
  • (3) If an animal is properly excluded. If a public accommodation properly excludes a service animal under § 36.302(c)(2), it shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises.
  • (4) Animal under handler´s control. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal´s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler´s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
  • (5) Care or supervision. A public accommodation is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.
  • An invisible disability on public transportion.

    (6) Inquiries. A public accommodation shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person´s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A public accommodation may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public accommodation shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, a public accommodation may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person´s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).

  • (7) Access to areas of a public accommodation. Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a place of public accommodation where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.
  • (8) Surcharges. A public accommodation shall not ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If a public accommodation normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
  • (9) Miniature horses.
    • (i) A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.
    • (ii) Assessment factors. In determining whether reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, a public accommodation shall consider –
      • (A) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
      • (B) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
      • (C) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and

        Photo by Todd Sumlin, permission given by http://www.guidehorse.org

      • (D) Whether the miniature horse´s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
    • (iii) Other requirements. Sections 36.302(c)(3) through (c)(8), which apply to service animals, shall also apply to miniature horses.

(d) Check-out aisles. A store with check-out aisles shall ensure that an adequate number of accessible check-out aisles are kept open during store hours, or shall otherwise modify its policies and practices, in order to ensure that an equivalent level of convenient service is provided to individuals with disabilities as is provided to others. If only one check-out aisle is accessible, and it is generally used for express service, one way of providing equivalent service is to allow persons with mobility impairments to make all their purchases at that aisle.

 

(e)

  • (1) Reservations made by places of lodging. A public accommodation that owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of lodging shall, with respect to reservations made by any means, including by telephone, in-person, or through a third party –

    Service Dog assisting person with mobility challenges, removing sock.

    • (i) Modify its policies, practices, or procedures to ensure that individuals with disabilities can make reservations for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner as individuals who do not need accessible rooms;
    • (ii) Identify and describe accessible features in the hotels and guest rooms offered through its reservations service in enough detail to reasonably permit individuals with disabilities to assess independently whether a given hotel or guest room meets his or her accessibility needs;
    • (iii) Ensure that accessible guest rooms are held for use by individuals with disabilities until all other guest rooms of that type have been rented and the accessible room requested is the only remaining room of that type;
    • (iv) Reserve, upon request, accessible guest rooms or specific types of guest rooms and ensure that the guest rooms requested are blocked and removed from all reservations systems; and
    • (v) Guarantee that the specific accessible guest room reserved through its reservations service is held for the reserving customer, regardless of whether a specific room is held in response to reservations made by others.
  • (2) Exception. The requirements in paragraphs (iii), (iv), and (v) of this section do not apply to reservations for individual guest rooms or other units not owned or substantially controlled by the entity that owns, leases, or operates the overall facility.
  • (3) Compliance date. The requirements in this section will apply to reservations made on or after March 15, 2012.

http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm

Traveling with your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animals is covered by the Federal Air Carrier Access Act

 

Sabrina

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination in air transportation by domestic and foreign air carriers against qualified individuals with physical or mental impairments. It applies only to air carriers that provide regularly scheduled services for hire to the public. Requirements address a wide range of issues including boarding assistance and certain accessibility features in newly built aircraft and new or altered airport facilities. People may enforce rights under the Air Carrier Access Act by filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, or by bringing a lawsuit in Federal court. For more information or to file a complaint, contact:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Room 4107, C-75
Washington, D.C. 20590

airconsumer.ost.dot.gov

(202) 366-2220 (voice)
(202) 366-0511 (TTY)
(800) 778-4838 (voice)
(800) 455-9880 (TTY)

Veronica and Sabrina

Examples:

While some Autistic children have difficulty bonding or touching a dog, at least initially, we worked with our son in a patient manner, and he eventually caught-on. Service dogs for children with Autism represent an invaluable resource for cultivating independent living skills, something we did not think possible before ‘Magick’ came into our lives. Because of the love of his dog, my son’s horizons have been broadened and his future brightened. Indeed, Service Dogs can provide an Autistic child with a level of normalcy and freedom we never thought possible. For the first time, I am confident that my son has a chance at playing outside by himself, developing normal friendships, and quite possibly living an independent adulthood. – by Shanna Hollingsworth (mother of an Autistic child) from http://www.psychdog.org/lifestyle_ChildrenwithAutism.html

 

 


Resources

 

 

North Star CBS News Story

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