Megann Drost

Leash the Beast: Why Dog Leash Laws Matter

I started this blog post out as a single post going over general dog leash laws and addressing common objections people have towards leashing their dog.

It turns out that there’s actually a LOT of info related to leashing your dog and a LOT of objections that people have, so it quickly grew into a massive blog post that I decided to split up.

So without further ado, to kick off this series we’re first going to go over what dog leash laws are and why they exist.

 

What are dog leash laws?

Surprisingly, leash laws don’t exist purely to suck all the joy out of your dog’s life. They actually exist to protect the health and safety of you, your dog, and the people around you.

Leash laws depend on your location.

Individual states have their own leash laws, and counties and cities have leash laws on top of state laws. These local leash laws are typically stricter than state laws.

Let’s take Los Angeles, California for example.

In California, the only actual state law basically says that you’re not allowed to let your female dog wander the streets off leash and risk getting knocked up from all the horn dogs in the neighborhood.  Here’s the actual phrasing. That seems fair enough.

But, when we look at the county laws in Los Angeles we can see they are much stricter.

Dogs are not allowed on any public property off leash OR on a leash longer than six feet in Los Angeles County. Here’s the actual phrasing.

It’s important to know your city, county and state laws.

If you don’t know the laws for your location, you can check out this site. Or you can just Sherlock Holmes it, er… Google it by looking up “local leash laws in _____” (insert city and state).

Alright, let’s move on shall we?

Why do leash laws exist?

1. Leash laws exist to protect you

  • They lower the possibility that your dog will become knocked up, or knock up another dog (if they’re not neutered or spayed). Therefore saving you many headaches, much money and lots of puppy pee pads.
  • They lower the possibility that you will get bit. By a dog who didn’t like the color shirt you wore and decided to go apeshit on you.
  • They lessen the chance that you will face liability claims and fees. Violating leash laws is considered owner negligence. This leaves you open to liability issues if your dog injures someone while off leash. But if your dog is leashed,  he won’t run into old man George. Old man George won’t fall and break his hip and therefore he won’t sue you. Crisis averted thanks to your dog’s leash.

2. Leash laws exist to protect your dog from themselves 

  • Help prevent your dog from running into the street and getting hit by a car. Thus preventing massive bets bills, injuries and potentially death. 
  • Help prevent your dog from getting lost. And then getting stolen.
  • It lowers the change that they’ll try to chase something….and then get lost. And then get stolen.
  • Your dog will be less likely to get into danger from its shenanigans. It’s hard to fall off a cliff when you’re wearing a leash connected to a human.
  • Lowers the chances that your dog will get in a fight. If your dog is ready to go “play” with a dog that does not look happy about that idea,  a leash allows you to steer them away and easily prevent a poor interaction.

3. Leash laws exist to protect your dog from others 

  • They prevent your dog from being stolen. Since, you know, they’ll be attached to you.
  • Lowers your dog’s chances of being attacked by wildlife. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, and bears, oh my!
  • Lowers the chances that your dog will get in a fight. If the dog across the street is frothing at the mouth at the site of you walking your dog, that owner’s leash protects your dog from being destroyed.  Overall, it’s generally easier to prevent poor interaction with a leash than without one.

 

3. Leash laws exist to protect others from your dog

  • Lessens the chance that your dog will injure someone. Your dog won’t be off leash, and therefore won’t run into old man George and break his hip. Again.
  • Lessens the chance that your dog will scare someone. Your dog won’t be off leash and therefore won’t scare the living bejeezus out of the five-year-old who is terrified of dogs.
  • Lessens the chance that your dog will bother someone. Your dog won’t be off leash and won’t go visit the neighbor to beg for scraps every time they BBQ.
  • Help prevent your dog from damaging property. Your dog can’t mosey on over to your neighbor Linda’s perfect rose garden and attempt to dig to China, thus inducing Linda’s wrath.
  • You can see when your dog relieves themselves. Therefore, you will have no excuse to pick up their shit since you’ll have a first-row seat to the event.
  • Lessens the chances of another person’s dog getting bit, another person getting injured, someone being in an accident to avoid hitting your dog who ran out in the street, and prevents your dog from annoying the neighbors. 

Alright, so by now you get that there many excellent reasons to have your dog on a leash.

What’s next?

For the rest of this series we’re going to take a look into the common reasons that people give for choosing NOT to leash their dogs.

We’re going to do our best to put aside our emotional feelings on the matter in order to shed some light on whether or not these reasons are LEGAL and valid reasons to having your dog off leash.

Here’s a sneak peek for some common objections to leash laws that we’ll be covering in the Leash The Beast Series:

  • My dog heels next to me 100% of the time. We don’t need a leash
  • My dog is really well trained. I want to show people how important training is by showing that she can heel without a leash.
  • I like to hike with my dog. He stays pretty close to me and I want him to enjoy the hike off leash.
  • My dog is a service dog and needs to be off leash so they can task.
  • My dog needs to run around. The street is a good place to play fetch.

Alrighty folks, that’s it for now! Stay tuned for more!

Top 50 Most Outstanding and Proven Dog Products

Owning a dog can be expensive. And we often make it harder on ourselves (and our pockets) by buying dog products that don’t work well or last.

To put together this list, I went through all the dog products I’ve bought over the years that have served me well. A couple products have a few different variations which means I have a few variations that I use.  I also added a few big tickets items that I plan on investing in in the future (like the dog crate for the car).

One thing that you’ll probably notice is that there are a LOT of balls on here and basically no soft toys…by dog is a super chewer and we have yet to find any durable stuffed animal like toys that he doesn’t destroy immediately.

So, without further ado, the following products are the top 50 dog products that I recommend! 

Beds + Bed Accessories

Feeding

Adventure

Toys

Grooming (I have a golden retriever)

On the Go/Treat Storage

Car Crates

The last two items are not available through Amazon. Both are car crates! 

Full disclosure, I do not yet have a car crate but 100% plan on getting one once the budget allows. You can see that they’re more of an investment than the items above! 

Also, the price depends on the size of your dog. I have a 74lb golden retriever so I’m on the pricier side! 

1. Gunner G1 Intermediate Dog Crate: $599+

2. Ruffland Intermediate Kennel: $196+ 

If you have any questions about products I recommend, please feel free to CONTACT me!

Amazon Associates Disclosure

Megann Drost is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

How to Get a Service Dog: A Practical and Helpful Guide

First things first….

What is a service dog?

A service dog helps a person with a disability live a more independent life. They are trained to do specific actions that directly relate to and help that person’s disabilities. A service dog is considered a working dog, not a pet. 

Alright, so now that you know that, get ready and buckle in! There is A LOT of important information and some key steps you should take before you get a service dog! 

Step 1: Be disabled

Okay, so obviously being disabled isn’t a “step to take.” You’re either are disabled, or you aren’t.

Yes, seriously, you need to be disabled to have a legitimate service dog. And no, you can’t fake it.

How do you know if you’re disabled? Well, to understand what being disabled is in the eyes of the law, we’re going to take a look at the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA contains the legal information that defines what a person with a disability is. Let’s take a look.

According to the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who;

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • Has a record of such an impairment or;
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

Oh, and don’t worry if some days or weeks your condition is worse than others, because fortunately for you, the ADA has you covered. 

The ADA measures a person’s impairment when the condition is most severe, versus when it’s the least severe. So you’ll still be covered if you’re condition waxes and wains if you are considered disabled at your worst. 

Also, using corrective measures like a wheelchair or pharmaceuticals don’t disqualify you from still being disabled. Instead, you should focus on how much you were limited before you used the corrective measure, or what would happen to you if you stopped.

It’s super important for you to know that not all diseases, conditions or illnesses are considered disabilities.

Also, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically considered disabled because you have the same diagnosis as someone else who is considered disabled. 

What qualifies someone as disabled?

You have to be limited one or more major life activities or bodily functions to be considered disabled.  

Examples of major life activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

  • Functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

What are examples of conditions where someone might be considered disabled?

Examples of physical or mental impairments often covered by the ADA (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • AIDS, and its symptoms
  • Alcoholism
  • Asthma
  • Blindness or other visual impairments
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing or speech impairments
  • Heart Disease
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Orthopedic impairments
  • Paralysis
  • Complications from Pregnancy
  • Thyroid gland disorders
  • Tuberculosis
  • Loss of body parts

Again, you’re not automatically considered disabled just because you have the same diagnosis as someone else who is considered disabled. Your condition must substantially limit a major life activity or bodily function.

Step 2: Talk to a medical professional

When you’re deciding if a service dog is the right fit for you it’s VERY important that you are working with a medical professional. Why? 

1.Getting a service dog is life changing

It’s life changing in a lot of great ways and a lot of really challenging ways.

A service dog isn’t generally the first line of recommended treatment  because of the many challenges that service dogs bring. It’s a good idea to make sure you have explored all treatment options with your doctor before you decide to get a service dog. 

2. To determine if you are disabled

 Does your medical doctor (not just a therapist) agree that you are legally disabled and that you need a service  dog?

If you decide to owner train (discussed more below) you don’t technically need any documentation from them. But, if you decide to go with a program dog, most likely you’ll need their support to complete required medical documentation that shows that you are legally disabled. 

You should have a working relationship with this doctor. It’s ideal that they are aware of the ins and outs of your complete condition and that you have tried other treatments.

Step 3. Decide if you can ACTUALLY afford a dog, let alone a service dog.

Pink piggy bank with pennies surrounding itDogs are expensive, Service Dogs are even more expensive, and most people with disabilities make less money than their able bodied peers.

While there haven’t been any formal surveys, I would estimate that service dog owner’s typically spend above and beyond the $140 a month their neighbor is spending on their pet dog.

Service dogs (SD) often need additional speciality items like vests or harnesses, extra training, and x-rays and health check ups that may drastically increase the budget.

Additionally, many SD owners choose to purchase health insurance, and higher quality dog food since their dog needs to be in top shape and condition.

Adding in the extra costs listed above, the average monthly costs of owning a service dog are bumped up to $200-$250 a month. It is also possible that some are spending upwards of $500, depending on what type of health insurance, food and gear they are purchasing.

Keep in mind that when you’re disabled you also lose out on income potential .

Many disabled individuals are often paid less than their healthy peers.  According to an American Institutes for Research Analysis (AIR)

“workers with disabilities who have at least a high school education earn 37 percent less on average than their peers without disabilities.”

Step 4: Do research

More research? Seriously? Yes. A LOT more research! 

You should do A LOT of research in the following areas before you decide to commit to a service dog:

  • Talk to others with service dogs, especially those who use a service dog for a similar condition
  • Watch videos of people with service dog showing their real life experiences (HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • Read blogs about service dogs
  • Decide if you will owner train or apply for a program dog (more below)
  • Read books about training dogs
  • Watch training videos
  • Research private  trainers in your area
  • Study the ADA laws pertaining to service dogs. You need to fully understand the laws 
  • Research breeds (more below)

Finally, research yourself. That sounds weird, but seriously. You need to take time to explore your feelings about getting a service dog.

Would you be getting a service dog for the right reasons? 

Getting a service dog so that you can take your dog everywhere is NOT a good reason.

Getting a service dog to “fix you” isn’t a good reason either.

Recognize that not all conditions can be helped by a service dog, and that getting a service dog doesn’t mean your health issues disappear.

Instead getting a service dog will hopefully help you deal with your condition better, and hopefully ease the effects of your symptoms, but you will still have to deal with some level of disability.

Is this what you are expecting, or are you expecting that all your symptoms  will go away? 

Step 5: Decide if you will you owner train or get a program dog

In case you didn’t know, the ADA does not require service animals to be professionally trained, so you are legally allowed to train your service dog yourself. However, like any decision in life there are pros and cons to owner training AND pros and cons to getting a program dog.

Pros and cons of owner training

Pros: 

  • Generally less expensive
  • Bond to your dog early on
  • Control the environment and experiences of the dog from a young age
  • Control the style of training
  • Can teach the dog new tasks as your condition changes
  • Can enlist the help of a private trainer

Cons:

  • Takes 1.5-2 years to fully train a service dog
  • Takes a lot of time and energy (you may initially feel worse worse before they are fully trained because you’ll use a lot of energy to train)
  • Can be hard to complete training and exposure training if you are socially isolated, introverted, or have social anxiety 
  • Your dog may wash more easily (isn’t a good fit for service work and must be pulled from training)
  • Under the ADA (federal law), the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. Fortunately, many States or local laws cover animals that are still in training, but that depends on what state you’re in.

Pros and Cons of getting a  Program Dog 

Pros:

  • Come fully trained (or mostly trained)
  • Work with the standard breeds for service work (Golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and Standard poodles)
  • Often provide training sessions with you before your match becomes placed with you so that you can learn to to get used to handle the dog
  • Work with reputable breeders to obtain healthy, temperamentally sound dogs

Cons: 

  • Generally expensive ($10,000-$40,000), although some non-profit organizations donate dogs
  • The training may not be tailored to your specific needs (may learn tasks you don’t need, doesn’t know tasks you do need)
  • You may not bond or be a good match with the chosen dog
  • Typically only use the standard breeds, so can be challenging  you need a larger or smaller dog

Step 5: Decide on a breed

 

The most common breeds (or mixed breeds) for service dogs are Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Standard Poodles. Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, and Border Collies are also common.

Generally it’s recommended that first time owner trainers work with Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, or Standard Poodles.

Standard Poodles are extremely intelligent and therefore may be slightly more stubborn and require more advanced training skills than a Golden or Labrador, but have the benefit of being hypoallergenic and non-shedding.

Also, German Shepherds are less likely to be recommended for psychiatric work. They are also generally high drive dogs that require solid dog training skills and experience. 

It’s also extremely important that you take into consideration what tasks you will need your service dog to perform.

For example, if you need mobility, you need to make sure that the breed you choose will be tall enough and weigh enough for your requirements to do that kind of work.

Step 6: Shop vs Adopt

“Adopt Don’t Shop” has become an extremely common phrase in the dog world. I think it’s amazing movement and has been pivotal for the tens of thousands of dogs that have been adopted. 

However, when you are looking for a service dog, you aren’t just looking for your average pet dog.

You are looking for an above average dog with excellent health,  excellent temperament, and excellent socialization that will be working as your medical equipment, and often times will be your lifeline. 

While it is possible to find all of these requirements in a dog in a shelter or other similar place, there are risks and extra challenges involved in finding a service dog prospect this way that are important to be aware of. 

That being said, there have been dogs from shelters or from other similar situations that have succeeded as service dogs. But again, it’s important to be aware of the risks and challenges so you can decide if it is the best route for you to take.

Pros and cons to getting a shelter/ adopted/rescued dog:

Pros: 

  • Less expensive than getting a puppy from a breeder
  • If you get a dog over 2 most hereditary issues will show up before this age
  • You can get an adult dog whose temperament is more set
  • Generally come with all their vaccinations up to date and are spayed and neutered
  • May come with some training already (obedience, potty training, leash manners, etc.)

Cons:

  • Have a higher chance of washout because you often don’t know their temperament or triggers in an environment outside the shelter and in a variety of environments
  • Can still inherit health issues you won’t know about
  • Often don’t know their exact age
  • Often don’t know their breed makeup and breed tendencies

Of course, there are also pros and cons of getting a dog from a reputable breeder. Please note that a reputable breeder is VERY different than a puppy mill.

It is generally not recommended that you get a puppy from a pet store as they are often raised in puppy mills which can lead to many issues.

Pros and cons to getting a puppy from a reputable breeder:

Pros: 

  • Know the health of the parents
  • Puppies have been exposed to various stimuli and socialized from a young age
  • Know the temperament of the parents
  • Generally have a good idea of what size the dog will become
  • Getting a dog from a young age can help form many positive experiences that set a foundation of behavior
  • Know exact age

Cons: 

  • You are buying a puppy which takes a lot of work and time
  • You’re responsible for all training of the puppy
  • Can be very expensive to buy from a breeder ($1000-$3000+)
  • Some puppy mills often portray themselves as reputable breeders
  • Puppies are very expensive their first year with extra shots and vet appointments
  • You might need to travel to find a reputable breeder (not a puppy mill/backyard breeder)

Step 7: Temperament testing

Whether you decide to adopt a dog or go with a reputable breeder, all dogs should be temperament tested regardless of their age. 

It is best to have a professional trainer temperament test the puppy or dog you are interested in, but as a last result you can do it yourself. 

The recommended testing method for puppies is the Volhard Puppy Aptitude test. You can see the test description and items HERE.

For adult dogs HERE is a generally recommended test for temperament and HERE is a service dog specific one. 

There is SO much more that could be said about each step that you should take before getting a service dog, but hopefully this gives you enough information to do some research on your own now!  

The Top 7 Reasons You Should NOT Get a Service Dog

There are many excellent reasons to get a service dog (SD)  if you deal with disabilities. But, having a service dog isn’t a walk in the park, and comes with many challenges. It’s important to be aware of the challenges before you and your health care professional decide that pursuing a service dog is the right fit for you.

So, to help you make your decision, here are the top 7 reasons that you should NOT get a service dog.

1. You can’t afford a service dog.

Pink piggy bank with pennies surrounding it

Dogs are expensive, Service Dogs are even more expensive, and most people with disabilities make less money than their able bodied peers.

How much does the average dog owner people spend?

The average dog owner spends $140.00 per month . Dog expenses include food, treats, vet expenses (vaccinations, neuter/spay, office visits, flea/tick treatment etc.), toys and grooming.  

How much do people spend on their service dogs?

While there haven’t been any formal surveys, I would estimate that service dog owner’s typically spend above and beyond the $140 a month their neighbor is spending.

Service dogs often need additional speciality items like vests or harnesses, extra training, and x-rays and health check ups that may drastically increase the budget.  Additionally, many SD owners choose to purchase health insurance, and higher quality dog food since their dog needs to be in top shape and condition.

So while there may be some service dog handlers that are spending the same amount that the average dog owner is, it is highly likely that more than half are spending more than the national average.

Adding in the extra costs listed above, the average monthly costs of owning a service dog are bumped up to $200-$250 a month. It is also possible that some are spending upwards of $500, depending on what type of health insurance, food and gear they are purchasing.

You lose out on income potential when you’re disabled.

Being disabled also limits opportunities to earn money, and many disabled individuals are often paid less than their healthy peers.  According to an American Institutes for Research Analysis (AIR)

“workers with disabilities who have at least a high school education earn 37 percent less on average than their peers without disabilities.”

Sadly, more education for someone with disabilities, doesn’t necessarily mean their income will go up either. The graph from THIS  American Institutes for Research article shows the income gap between able bodied and disabled persons. 

Graph showing that workers with disabilities earn less than their able bodied peers

2. You’ll get so much attention, that you might wish you were invisible.

Woman covers her face with her hands  Owning a service dog means you go literally everywhere with a dog. While your service dog is your medical lifeline, the general public doesn’t necessarily see it like that. 

Most people seem to think that your service dog is actually a magical beast that must be pet, documented, called to, stared at, and stalked.

Gone are the days when you can run into the store to grab something as basic a gallon of milk in 2 minutes. As soon as you enter any building, people will laser focus on your dog, and potentially proceed to swarm you.

You’ll be asked questions about your dog’s age, breed, what shampoo you use on them, and about advice on how to make their dog a “therapy dog too.”

In crowded places, you may become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people staring, taking pictures, calling to your dog and generally acting like they saw a unicorn.

There is no reprieve. It will never end. This is your life now.

Not only will people hyper focus on your dog, but any attention that you do receive will likely be inappropriate.

You will likely be asked intrusive questions about your personal life and medical history, be criticized for training methods, be called a jerk for not letting someone pet your service dog, be told that your dog is sad, that you don’t look disabled enough, and on and on and on.

If you think you’ll be safe with your family or friends, you’re sadly mistaken. Although many service dog handlers have understanding and supportive families, there are even more who find that their own family or friends are the most likely to disregard your requests to ignore or not pet your service dog, and they are the people that you will have the most difficult saying no to.

3. You will get burnt out on dealing with the lack of public education about service dogsToddler wearing a red shirt with hands by face yelling

Every service dog handler can tell a “horror story” of a time they were out in public and were on the receiving end of a lack of education, understanding or respect from the general public. 

As a result, many legitimate SD teams are often denied access, called fake,  asked whether or not their dog is “registered”, and asked to divulge private health information. Sadly, these issues are extremely common.

One thing is for sure; service dogs thoroughly confuse the world. Lets explore the main ways people just don’t get it.

1. People think all service dogs are seeing eye dogs.

It’s true. I’ve even seen signs in the United States Postal Service stating “only seeing eye dogs allowed.”

The general public isn’t usually aware that service dogs can have a huge range of jobs including (but not limited to) Psychiatric, Mobility, Guide, Medical Alert, and Diabetic Alert. If you have a dog that doesn’t fit the narrow description of how a service dog is perceived (typically seeing eye dog), you will face scrutiny from businesses and individuals.

2. People don’t understand the differences between a Service Dog, a Therapy dog and an Emotional Service Animal.

Even worse, people often assume a Psychiatric Service Dog and an Emotional Support Animal are the same thing.  Many people also assume that an Emotional Support Animal is the same thing as a Psychiatric Service dog.

3. Small service dogs and bully breeds face discrimination.

Individuals with small breed service dogs face the stigma that only large breeds can be legitimate service dogs. Sadly, many fake service dogs are often small dogs, which creates a vicious cycle. 

Bully breeds also often face breed stigma as they face accusation of being vicious, aggressive and dangerous. Many places even impose breed restrictions, which may apply to a pets, but are not legally applicable to service dogs. 

4. There is so much pressure and judgement you might crumble.Yellow smiley, frowy and mad faces

When you have a service dog you will experience a huge mount of judgement and pressure from the outside world. Here are just a few examples of the pressures and judgement you might experience.

Common outside pressures and judgements:

  • Service dog not viewed as a legitimate treatment option
  • Unsupportive family (emotionally, financially)
  • Others doubt whether you actually need the medical support
  • Accused of wanting to take your dog everywhere
  • Judged as being lazy
  • Judged as being too young to have chronic, disabling heath issues
  • Accused of not trying “other treatments” long enough
  • Accused of lying or exaggerating symptoms
  • Judged as being attention seeking
  • Judged as being “fine” before obtaining an SD
  • Struggling to get workspace, and school accommodation
  • Others being embarrassed to be seen with someone with a SD
  • Pressured to leave your SD at home because they are seen as a hassle or inconvenience

5. Facing your inner and outer demons might break you.

Black and white photo of super stressed woman with her hands by her face yelling start with the inner demons, a.k.a the self doubts and judgement about having an Service Dog that might plague your waking hours. 

Inner demons:

  • Feeling like a “fraud” (up to 90% of handlers feel this) *
  • Wondering if you’re disabled enough to have an SD (up to 80% struggle with this)*
  • Doubting that your SD “does enough” if they don’t do medical alerts (up to 75% struggle with this)*
  • Fear your SD will wash
  • Feeling shame when seeing people who knew you before becoming disabled or having an SD
  • Fear that your SD will mess up in public (pull on leash, bark, have an accident, etc.)

*This information is taken from the highly scientific realms of Instagram polls (insert sarcasm). The polls consisted of  300 people, with simple yes or no responses. I’m not claiming hard science, I’m just providing a rough percentage based on the answers I received to support the general idea that Service Dog handlers share similar internal struggles. 

Next we have your outer demons, a.k.a the things you have little control over, but that you’ll still have to deal with when you have a service dog. 

Outer demons:

  • Lack of knowledgable trainers to help with the training process
  • Lack of time and energy to focus on training
  • The amount of extra time and planning it takes to go anywhere with your service dog
  • Public access issues
  • The financial burden of owning a service dog
  • Harassment, bullying and drama over training methods
  • Service dog community judgement about whether “you’re disabled enough”
  • Service dog community judgement over the behavior and tasks of your dog
  • Comparing yourself and your dog to other service dog teams
  • Social media pressure to portray your dog as perfect

6. Even if you have a service dog, you will still have health issues.

Unfortunately, having a service dog will not miraculously take away your disabilities and health issues. The goal is that your service dog will help lessen their affects and the severity of your disabilities.

However, because of this, there may come a time when you will need to pursue more advanced treatment, even with your service dog.

7. Your service dog will still shed, sh*t and slobber.Dog with black, white and tan face lays on ground with a pool of slobber

Excuse my language….I did it for the alliteration.  But seriously, at the end of the day, a service dog is still a dog, even if they’re a really smart and sensitive dog.

If you don’t like dogs, then you won’t like a service dog. If you can’t stand stinky breath, smelly poops and slobber, it won’t matter if the dog is a service dog or not.

Also, because service dogs are living, breathing animals they will have off days. They might still have days where they act out behaviorally, or shock you with their antics. They also may have an accident in a store, or get sick over night, and you will have to deal with these things.

In conclusion…

I’m not trying to dissuade you from pursuing a service dog in your treatment. A service dog is a legitimate option for many people. BUT, it’s important to at least be aware of the challenges that owning a service dog brings.

What do you think?

If you have a service dog, do you feel like there is anything else that is particularly challenging that people considering a service dog should be aware of? If so, let them know below!

Gigantic List of the Top 150 Service Dog Tasks

A service dog is a dog that has been trained to do specific tasks or work that help reduce a disabled owner’s specific disabilities. Service dog tasks are often used to help mitigate physical, psychiatric and developmental disabilities.

Because one person’s disabilities can be so different from another person’s, there isn’t a “One Size Fits All” approach to what tasks a service dog may know. Instead, each service dog is trained to do unique tasks for their specific owner. As a result, many are cross trained or trained for multiple purposes and multiple tasks in different categories.

Also, it’s important to be aware that unless the specific task is actually helping the person’s disability, it’s actually considered a trick.

For example; my disabilities don’t require that I need my dog to alert to a smoke alarm going off. So, if I decide to teach my dog to alert me when a smoke alarm goes off, that would actually a trick, not a task.

A service dog only needs to be able to reliably perform one task that helps mitigate their owner’s disabilities.

More tasks does not equal a better service dog.

Below you can find a list of the 150 most common tasks that service dogs are trained to do; from alerting, to mobility, medical response, and more. Just so you’re aware, because tasks aren’t duplicated, a specific task will only show up in one category, even though many tasks can fit into more than one of the categories below. 

***This list does not encompass every possible task or type of work. These are just the most common tasks that a service dog may be taught. 

Alerts to noises:

Mini poodle wearing a black and green service dog vest in front of yellow and red flowers

  • Alert handler to another person or child crying/calling/yelling
  • Alert to alarm
  • Alert to approaching car
  • Alert to car horn
  • Alert to doorbell/knocking
  • Alert to handler’s name
  • Alert to phone
  • Alert to siren
  • Alert to smoke alarm
  • Alert to horn honking
  • Alert to sounds
  • Alert to unheard dropped item
  • Alert to specific, trained environment sounds (alarms, baby crying, knocking, honking etc.)
  • Alert to bells
  • Alert to announcements

Alerts to physiological + psychological changes:

  • Alert to high blood sugar
  • Alert to low blood sugar
  • Alert to syncope episode
  • Alert to adrenaline dump
  • Alert to fatigue crash
  • Alert to rise in cortisol
  • Alert to seizure
  • Alert to migraine
  • Alert to panic attack
  • Alert handler to episodes of rage or strong emotion
  • Alert to dissociation
  • Alert to anxious behaviors

Other Alerts:

  • Alert to take medication (reminder)
  • Alert to person coming up behind
  • Alert to intruder
  • Alert to allergen in food
  • Alert to allergen in the area
  • Routine reminders (feed dog, eat meals, go to sleep, wake up, etc.)

Interruption Tasks:

Golden retriever with his mouth open wearing a light purple and grey service dog vest.

  • Interrupt crying
  • Interrupt dissociation
  • Interrupt flashback
  • Interrupt freezing behavior
  • Interrupt harmful behaviors
  • Interrupt nightmare
  • Interrupt panic/anxiety attack
  • Interrupt repetitive behaviors
  • Interrupt scratching/skin picking
  • Lick face/hands

Opening/Closing Tasks:

  • Answer door
  • Open doors (handicapped button)
  • Open doors (pulling open using a tug)
  • Open doors (pushing open with nose or paws)
  • Open sliding door
  • Open/close cabinet/drawer
  • Open/close bathroom door
  • Open/close dishwasher
  • Open/close refrigerator

Retrieving Tasks:

Mini Aussie with blue eyes and tan, grey, white and black fur wearing a service dog vest

  • Retrieve clothing items (teach your dog to retrieve)
  • Retrieve dog bowls
  • Retrieve dropped items
  • Retrieve emergency medication
  • Retrieve self care kit
  • Retrieve items when pointed to
  • Retrieve water/juice/gatorade/etc..
  • Retrieve mobility aid (wheelchair, cane, walker, etc.)
  • Retrieve named items
  • Retrieve phone
  • Retrieve purse/wallet
  • Retrieve shoes
  • Retrieve tissue (when crying, sneezing, coughing)
  • Retrieve towel (after shower, bath)
  • Retrieve tv remote
  • Retrieve vest/harness/leash/gear
  • Retrieve item from store shelf
  • Retrieve mail or newspaper

Getting Help:

  • Bark for help on command
  • Alert family member
  • Alert stranger for help
  • Go find help/specific person
  • Call 911 on a dog-friendly phone
  • Call a pre-programmed number on a dog-friendly phone
  • Call suicide hotline on a dog-friendly phone

Guiding Tasks:

  • Guiding
  • Indicate barrier (while guiding)
  • Indicate curbs (while guiding)
  • Indicate drop-offs (while guiding)
  • Indicate stairs/steps (while guiding)
  • Avoid moving objects (while guiding)
  • Lead around ground hazards (while guiding)
  • Lead around low hanging items (while guiding)
  • Lead around stationary items (while guiding)
  • Guide home
  • Guide to an exit
  • Guide to specific item
  • Guide to specific location
  • Guide to specific person
  • Guide to a safe place
  • Guide to a bathroom
  • Guide to stairs/elevator/Escalator
  • Guide to  the car
  • Find empty seat
  • Follow designated person
  • Find handler (runners, wanderers, lost handler)
  • Refuse to move if not safe (busy road, away from home, etc.)
  • Block from moving towards danger (busy road, away from home, etc.)

Provision Tasks:

English Creme Golden Retriever wearing a rainbow service dog vest and leash in front of an old wooden door.

  • Provide distraction
  • Provide excuse to leave uncomfortable situation
  • Cover
  • Block
  • Check the room
  • Clear a room
  • Crowd control (circling)
  • Light pressure therapy
  • Tactile Stimulation
  • Deep pressure therapy
  • Lay across chest of seizing handler to reduce duration of seizure
  • Covering body of handler to assist with temperature regulation
  • Provide pressure on chest to produce cough
  • Push floor button to turn on lamp
  • Push paralyzed limb back into place

Carrying/Holding Tasks:

  • Carry grocery bags
  • Carry purse
  • Carry items up or down stairs
  • Drag heavy items to specific location
  • Drag laundry basket
  • Deliver credit card or money to a cashier
  • Deliver items from cashier to handler
  • Bring a note to person
  • Deliver item to person

Mobility Tasks: Bandogge Mastiff wearing a service dog patch collar looking away from camera

  • Assist with position changes (sitting to standing, laying to sitting, etc.)
  • Help sit up if slumped over
  • Help with turning over
  • Roll handler his/her side (by nudging, pulling clothing)
  • Counter-balance
  • Forward momentum (in a wheelchair)
  • Forward momentum (when walking)
  • Provide momentum up inclines
  • Provide momentum up stairs
  • Pull Wheelchair
  • Bracing
  • Help handler into bathtub or shower
  • Help handler out of bathtub or shower
  • Pull handler with strap (to change positions)
  • Help putting on dog gear

Daily Help:

  • Turn off lights (with paw, nose or teeth)
  • Turn on lights (with paw, nose or teeth)
  • Closing Doors (pulling closed with a tug or with nose or paws)
  • Pull blankets off/on
  • Pull blinds/curtains closed/open
  • Help put clothing on
  • Help remove clothing
  • Clean up items on the floor (put in basket)
  • Clean up and throw away trash (put in wastebasket)
  • Unload grocery items
  • Unload items from the washer or dryer
  • Close washer/dryer (with paw or nose)
  • Close Bathroom stall
  • Assist with making bed

Anything else?

Any other service dog work or tasks you would want to add to this list? Comment below!

How to get a Legitimate Emotional Support Animal

 What is an Emotional Support Animal

People who need animal companionship to have better functioning, may qualify for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). It should be noted that a health professional must prescribe an ESA to a person who has an emotional or mental disability. Examples of licensed health professionals are doctors, therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists.

First, the health professional must decide that an ESA is crucial to the health of the person with the disability. Next, if the health professional feels an Emotional Support Animal is a good treatment option, they will write an ESA prescription (letter). 

An ESA prescription letter will typically include:

  • The patient’s name
  • Patient’s  birth date
  • That the patient is currently being treated by the doctor or mental health expert
  • That the patient has a disability that currently restricts them from carrying out, or participating in one or more major areas in their life
  • That an ESA is part of a treatment plan to help the patient cope with their disability symptoms

Examples of conditions which may qualify for an Emotional Support Animal:

A child with short hair faces away from the camera in a white tank top, while a french bulldog puppy in a red stripe bow tie looks at the camera over his shoulder
Do you need an Emotional Support Animal? We talk about how to get a legitimate emotional support animal (ESA), why someone might need one and the benefits and legal aspects of owning one! | The Atomic Hound
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Separation anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Motor skills disorders
  • Paranoia
  • Psychotic disorders
  • OCD
  • Depression
  • Neurodevelopment disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Dissociative disorders

Finally, it’s important to also know that ESAs can be any common domestic animal including dogs, cats, or ferrets, and more. However, the animal must be well behaved, such as being toilet trained, and can’t be a nuisance or danger to others.

Can’t I just register my dog online?

There are many websites that claim themselves to be Emotional Support Registries (and Service Dog Registries). They tell you that if you pay a fee,  you will get a certificate and your dog will be a legal Emotional Support Animal or Service Dog. 

There is NO Emotional Support Registry in the United States. Similarly, there is NO Service Dog Registry in the United States. These websites are abusing the ESA system, and taking advantage of people. 

The most legal way to obtain an Emotional Support Animal is to talk to your own health professional. This way you can work together in deciding if an ESA is the right step in your treatment. Remember, not everyone qualifies for an ESA (even though public perception would say otherwise).

To qualify you and your healthcare professional must decide that you:

  • have a disability that currently restricts you from carrying out, or participating in one or more major areas in your life
  • that an ESA is part of a treatment plan to help you cope with your disability symptoms

Next, if you qualify, your health professional will write an ESA prescription (letter). 

Places you can legally take your Emotional Support Animal

After you receive an ESA prescription from a mental health professional, it’s important to know where you can legally take your ESA.

Many people are under the impressions that you can take an ESA with you everywhere. This is not actually true. 

 ESA’s can legally go to these 3 places:

Small black and tan chihuahua dog in man's arms with a white long sleeve shirt wearing a watch

  1. Places normal pets are allowed to go. These would be pet friendly restaurants,  stores, and parks. Pet friendly areas are usually labeled and you will often see other dogs  in the area.
  2. Housing. The Fair Housing Act includes ESAs as assistance animals. Landlords cannot  discriminate against you because of your disabilities (Or ESA). In addition, rules like no pets, species bans or pet size limitations don’t apply with your prescription for an ESA. 
  3. Airline travel. The Air Carrier Access Act allows service animals and ESAs to be with their owner in the cabin of an aircraft. The airline might require documentation stating that the person has a disability and the reason why the animal must travel with them. If you intend to travel with an ESA, contact the airline ahead of time to ensure you can provide the appropriate paperwork.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are NOT Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD).

 ESA and PSD are both important roles to those suffering with mental and psychiatric disabilities. However, psychiatric service dogs perform specific work or tasks to detect psychiatric episodes, interrupt habits and ease the affects of mental illness.

For example, a task that a psychiatric service dog may be trained to perform would be alerting to rapid breathing that may indicate the onset of a panic attack.

If a dog has not been trained to do any tasks, and the dog’s presence is the only thing that helps the person cope, then the dog does not qualify as a psychiatric service dog, and instead of be considered an ESA.

Finally, a psychiatric service dog has rights to be in public place, but an ESA doesn’t have these same rights.

 

How to Make Your Dog a Therapy Dog

It’s becoming common knowledge that your average dog owner experiences better overall health, but did you know there are even “Super Dogs” out there who work as therapy dogs?

These dogs work to provide awesome health boosting benefits to the general public. 

Wait, what exactly does a therapy dog do again?

Therapy dogs provide psychiatric and/or physiological therapy to people other than their owners.

Naturally, these dogs are often the epitome of friendly and cuddly and provide therapy in the forms of affection, comfort and love.

These dogs often visit hospitals, schools, daycares, hospice centers, rehab centers, nursing homes, prisons, disaster sites, and more. While some therapy dogs “work” at a specific location such as at a psychotherapy practice, or in a children’s hospital, others visit different places.

Think your dog would be awesome at being a therapy dog? Great!

But first things first. There are some requirements to becoming a therapy dog. 

Therapy dog temperament

Blonde girl with bangs holding small white dog in her arms in a green wooded area.

The most important requirement is that your dog needs the right temperament to be a therapy dog. A therapy dog must be friendly, even tempered, calm, gentle, confident, and reliable in new environments and around all different types of people.

First, they must be comfortable being pet, kissed and hugged. Therapy dogs often work with people who have problems with motor or muscle control. This means they need to be comfortable with occasional rough petting, strange movements and being pet everywhere, including their face, feet, and tail.

Next, therapy dogs also need nerves of steel (and awesome training) that allows them to be tolerant of strange things and loud noises. Quick recovery is essential when a dog is caught off guard.

Some items that therapy dogs need to get used to are things like crutches, wheelchairs, scooters or loud noises such as sirens, screaming or loud crying.

Finally, due to the nature of the job, therapy dogs will also encounter many different types of people. These dogs must be comfortable being approached and handled by people of  who look and act different than their owners.

Some of the differences they may encounter are:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Mobility (babies, using wheelchairs, canes., bedridden)
  • Wearing different hair styles
  • Wearing different fashion sense (glasses, hats, baggy clothes)

Does my dog need to be a specific breed to be a therapy dog?

A man wearing a blue shirt has a small corgi sitting on his lap with it's tongue out with a basketball court in the background

No! While there are certain breeds that excel in therapy work, a therapy dog can be any breed, as long as the temperament is sound.

Here is a list of 9 breeds that do well in therapy work. 

  • Golden retriever
  • Labrador retriever
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  • Greyhound
  • Poodles (all sizes)
  • Corgis
  • Beagles
  • Saint Bernards
  • Bichon Frise

Do dogs need training to be therapy dogs?

Anyone can train a therapy dog! While the path to becoming a therapy dog can vary depending on your state, and what the program you enter requires, there are typically common requirements.

Here are the most common requirements: 

  • Must be at least one year old
  • Pass the CGC test
  • Must be up to date on all vaccinations
  • Receive a certificate of health clearance from a vet
  • Be accepted into a therapy dog program or organization
  • Undergo any further specific testing or training that program may require

Even though this is a fairly standard way to becoming a therapy dog, not every program will require the CGC before accepting a dog, and not every program will require more training or testing after being accepted.

In general, even if a dog doesn’t need the CGC, the CGC guidelines are a great way to see where your dog is at in the training, and many therapy dog programs base their testing on the CGC as well.

Here are the 10 items the CGC tests on:

 

Small black and tan dachshund wearing a red harness and red leash being walked on a field with an owner wearing black sneakers

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Appearance and grooming
  4. Walking on a loose lead
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit, down and stay on command
  7. Come when called
  8. How the dog reacts to other dogs
  9. Reaction to distraction
  10. Supervised separation

Liability Insurance

You should know that you will typically pay a fee when you join a therapy dog program or organization. Part of the reason for the fee,  is to cover the price of liability insurance coverage.

It is extremely important that whatever program you register your dog through it has this insurance available to you. This is to provide protection to all parties involved in the rare event that a dog bites or another accident occurs.

Allowing a dog into a setting with children, elderly, disabled individuals and immunocompromised individuals is a high risk and potential liability. Because of this, it is super important that a dog is deemed healthy, has good behavior, and that you have liability insurance protection when you’re taking your dog into any of these settings.

If you want more information, here is a list of 6 national therapy dog organizations to help you start your journey.

These organizations will help you through the process of getting your dog certified! Keep in mind that each of organizations has its own criteria, evaluators, fees and rules.

If my dog becomes a therapy dog, does that mean I can bring them everywhere with me?

Small tan and white dog with brown eyes sits in a pink cloth carrier looking at the camera
Want to learn the most important steps of your dog becoming a therapy dog? We share the process of training, and certifying your dog as a therapy dog! | The Atomic Hound

Despite the thorough training, therapy dogs are NOT service dogs, so they do NOT have public access rights any place where pet dogs are not allowed, except with a direct invitation.  Therapy dogs have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, and also provide support to many people versus a disabled individual,  so they don’t qualify under the ADA. 

 

How to Navigate Your Rights with a Service Dog

I have personally struggled with navigating the large amount of legal information, knowing and stating my rights, and taking action to protect these rights when necessary. 

In an effort to keep all the legal mumbo jumbo straight, I created this guide to help myself (and hopefully you!) navigate all the confusion! 

This article is divided into 4 sections: 1) Disability Basics 2) Service Animal Basics 3) Public Access FAQ and, 4) Access Issues and How to Handle them.  

Differences between Service Animals, Therapy Animals, and Emotional Support Animals (ESA's)

Service Animal:

A service animal is defined as an animal (a miniature horse or a dog) that is 1) individually trained to do work or perform tasks for 2) an individual with a disability (more info on this in the rest of the article).

Therapy Animal

A therapy dog is a pet trained to interact with many people to help make those people feel better and are often certified. Therapy dogs are only allowed into places like hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and libraries by prior agreement. 

Emotional Support Animal

 An ESA is a pet that provides disability-relieving emotional support to an individual, but many not be trained to do so.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are not given public access rights to places a pet is not normally allowed to go. ESA owners have legal rights in housing situations and when flying.

Disability Basics

What is the American Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The U.S. Department of Justice protects an individual’s rights through the American with Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA).

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Am I disabled?

According to the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who;

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;

  • Has a record of such impairment or;

  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

The ADA measures an impairment when the condition is most severe.

So if you are only sometimes impaired, or your condition has less symptomatic periods, the ADA will look at when your symptoms are the worst. Also, utilizing corrective measures (treatments) do not disqualify you from the ADA.

You should focus on how much you were limited before you used the corrective measure, or what would happen if you stopped.

Examples of physical or mental impairments covered by the ADA (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • AIDS, and its symptoms

  • Alcoholism

  • Asthma

  • Blindness or other visual impairments

  • Cancer

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Epilepsy

  • Hearing or speech impairments

  • Heart Disease

  • Migraine Headaches

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Orthopedic impairments

  • Paralysis

  • Complications from Pregnancy

  • Thyroid gland disorders

  • Tuberculosis

  • Loss of body parts

What does “limit one or more major life activities” mean?

Under the ADAAA, “major life activities” includes “major bodily functions.”

  • Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

  • Major Bodily Functions include, but are not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Service Animal Basics

What is a service animal?

Under the ADA, a service animal is an animal (miniature horse or dog) that is 1) Individually trained to do work or perform tasks for 2) an individual with a disability. 

The task(s) performed must be directly related to the person’s disability. An animal must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with a diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels.

Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. 

Does my service dog need to be leashed? Are there behavior requirements?

Under 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.

According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations § 36.202(c)(2) there are two instances where a business may exclude a Service Dog:

  1. The Service Dog is out of control and the handler isn’t doing anything about it

  2. The Service Dog isn’t housebroken and urinates or defecates inappropriately

***If a business asks a service dog to leave the premise, the business must give the individual with a disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services and accommodations without having the service animal on the premise.

Can I train my own service dog?

The ADA does not require service animals to be professionally trained. 

People with disabilities have the right to train their service dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program. It is important to note that under the ADA service-animals-in-training are not considered service animals.

Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, many State or local laws cover animals that are still in training.  

Public Access FAQ

When I go out in public, what can businesses ask me to determine if my dog is a service animal?

Businesses may only 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 are not allowed to request any documentation, identification or certification for the dog, request proof of service animal training, licensing or certification, require that the dog demonstrate its task(s), inquire about the nature of the person’s disability, or request medical documents. 

Additionally, the ADA does not require a service animal to wear a vest, patch, or special harness identifying them as service dogs.

Businesses ask me for “documentation” for my Service Dog. Is that legal?

No! ADA covered businesses may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.

There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.

I’ve had negative experiences, or been charged more in hotels with my service dog. Is that legal?

A hotel guest with a disability who uses a service animal must be provided the same opportunity to reserve any available room at the hotel as other guests without disabilities. 

They may not be restricted to “pet-friendly” rooms, or charged a cleaning fee for pet hair/dander (if the animal causes significant damage, you may still be charged legally). It’s important to remember that a service dog can’t legally be left in a non-pet friendly hotel without supervision.

Can I bring my service dog to college/grad school?

Both public and private colleges and universities must provide equal access to postsecondary education for students with disabilities.

Title II of the ADA covers publicly-funded universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Title III of the ADA covers privately-funded schools.  All public or private schools that receive federal funding are required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to make their programs accessible to students with disabilities.

Does my housing accommodation have to comply with the ADA and allow my service animal live with me?

Yes! The ADA applies to housing programs administered by state and local governments, such as public housing authorities, and by places of public accommodation, such as public and private universities. 

In addition, the Fair Housing Act applies to virtually all types of housing, both public and privately-owned, including housing covered by the ADA. (The only exceptions are if a landlord owns 4 or less units AND does not use a management company and lives on the premise).

For more information go HERE

Can I bring my service dog to a place of worship?

Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship are exempt from the ADA and are not required to allow individuals to bring their service animals into the facility. You should contact the place or worship before bringing your service animal.

Can I bring my service dog on the airplane?

Commercial Airlines do not have to comply with the ADA. Instead, The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is the Federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in air travel. 

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel. This rule applies to all flights of U.S. airlines, and to flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines. 

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) a service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability; or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support.  

One major difference between the ADA and the ACAA has to do with Psychiatric Service Animals. Airlines may request documentation and/or 48-hours advanced notice for emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals.

Go HERE for more information about air travel with a service dog.

Access Issues and How to Handle Them

What if a business denies me my rights?

The U.S. Department of Justice protects an individual’s rights through the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) to take a service animal where the public is allowed, including government properties, places of business, and other indoor and outdoor places.

Unfortunately, individuals with service animals may still be illegally denied access, service or discriminated against. Issues include being charged extra fees,  waiting longer than others, being segregated or treated differently. 

Here are steps to take if you have an access issue.

  1. Quote the ADA laws directly.

  2. Ask for a supervisor, manager, or a disability advocate if you are still having an issue with the employee you are engaging with.

  3. If you need more help to understand your rights you can call the ADA assistance line, to have your rights clarified; the number is 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

  4. File an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. To file an ADA complaint you can file:

  • Electronically: https://www.ada.gov/complaint/

  • By Mail; 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section- 1425 NYAV, Washington D.C. 20530

  • By Fax: (202)307-1197

  • Information you should you’ll need to file your complaint:

  1. Your full name, address, telephone numbers, and the name of the party discriminated against (if known);

  2. The name and address of the business, organization, institution, or person that you believe has committed the discrimination;

  3. A brief description of the acts of discrimination, the dates they occurred, and the names of individuals involved;

  4. Other information you believe necessary to support your complaint, including copies (not originals) of relevant documents; and

  5. Information about how to communicate with you effectively.

Resources