Service Dog Laws and Tests You Must Be Know it ! (Part 1)

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 Service Dog Laws and Tests :

First and foremost, any responsible service dog owner/handler should be well versed in the legalities respecting the service dog community. In this chapter, we will cover what is going to be expected from you, your companion, and the general public from here on out.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is defined as, “A dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.” Disabilities include but are not limited to; mobility issues, sensory issues, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism, epilepsy, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to name a few. If your disability is not listed, you are still eligible to have a service dog if you are unable to perform a function considered normal/easy to most without the use of a service dog. Functions such as eating, remembering, seeing, hearing and standing are all examples.

As the ADA states, regardless of the laws of your apartment building or rental property, you are given the right to live with your service dog. This also exempts them from any pet deposit fee as they are seen an essential part of your quality of life and not a pet. The same applies to hotels, they cannot charge you a pet fee. The two places a service dog is not allowed (due to health codes) is an operating room in a hospital and a food preparation kitchen at a restaurant.

Later in this book, we will discuss how your dog should behave in public, but what about the people? When you go out in public, there are a few things to remember. First, not everyone will accept a dog in uncommon

places such as restaurants, libraries, or hospitals. Second, no matter how upset they are here is what they can’t do; ask you to leave, ask what your disability is, and ask for proof of your disability or service dog certification. You can deter some of these questions (that may be asked anyway) by attaching a vest labeled service dog and/or an ID on his/her vest or collar. However, a business owner or person is allowed to ask you what task your dog performs for you. As an example, if your dog acts as a barrier between you and people behind you (often for veterans who are given anxiety by being in line with someone standing too closely behind them) you may tell them the action your dog performs but do not have to explain why. Another example is if your service dog is trained to remind you to take medication at a certain time, you may explain the task but do not have to disclose the medication or what it is taken for.

Flying with your service dog is important, especially because one of the services your dog may provide you with is emotional support on a flight. Luckily, ADA law has given you the right to bring them on the plane with you right by your side without having to pay any fees regarding your dog. Please remember, only one service dog is allowed on any given flight at a time. You will also be boarded first just as anyone with a wheelchair is. Below I have provided you with a few airlines and their guidelines.

Alaska Air:

  • No charge
  • Visible indication such as a vest or collar preferred
  • Verbal assurance of your service dog’s task required if an inquiry is made by airline personnel
  • Service dogs who are properly harnessed may sit at the individual’s feet, except if they are too large obstructing the aisle or area used for emergency exits.

American Airlines:

  • No charge
  • Visible indication such as a vest or collar preferred
  • Verbal assurance of your service dog’s task required if an inquiry  is made by airline personnel

Jet Blue:

Visible indication such as a vest or collar required

Verbal assurance of your service dog’s task required if an inquiry is made by airline personnel

Documentation is also accepted

US Airlines:

One of the following is required; animal ID card, harness or tags, written documentation, credible verbal assurance

Virgin Airlines:

  • One of the following is required; animal ID card, harness of tags, or credible verbal assurance.

Although you do not need to be a professional in order to train your dog, you do need to take a Public Access Test. This is a test created to ensure the validity of the basic training put into a service dog. This does not include tasks trained to aid your disability. In order to take the test, a minimum of 120 hours of training should be invested into your dog beforehand. This should take about six months. In the test, no treats or leash corrections are allowed. Throughout the book, we will set up for the goal of eliminating these two factors, so you aren’t dependent on them. The dog should not show any aggression or fear, and if s/he does, s/he will be disqualified.

The Assistant Dog International (ADI) Public Access Test:

Here is a general outline of what this test consists of. The evaluator and you will agree on location suitable for the test. S/he will be responsible for bringing an assistant person, plate of food, assistant dog, and access to a shopping cart.

1-Control Unloading Your Dog from a Vehicle:

First unload any necessary equipment such as wheelchair, crutches, canes, etc. Once this is done, the dog may be released from the vehicle and wait for further instruction from the handler. The dog must not run around off leash or ignore any commands given by the handler. Once the handler and dog are settled, an assistant with a dog will walk by about six feet away from you. Both dogs must remain calm and under control. They should not be trying to get to one another.

2-Approaching the Establishment:

After the first exercise is completed, you and your dog will navigate through the parking lot towards the building of the agreed upon location. Your dog must stay in a relative heel position next to you and may not be allowed to forge ahead or lag behind.

When cars or other distractions present themselves, your dog must not show fear towards them. If you stop for any reason, your dog must do so also.

3-Controlled Entry Through Doorway:

Walking through the threshold of the building, you must remain in control and pass safely through the doorway. Once inside, your dog may not be allowed to abandon the relative heel position and must not solicit any attention from anyone.

4-Heeling Through the Building:

You must demonstrate control of your dog as you walk through the building. Your dog should not be more than a foot away from you and must be able to walk through crowds of people keeping up with your pace. S/he must slow down to meet your pace and stop promptly when you do. Turning corners should be prompt, and they should not lag. If in a tight space, your dog should be able to navigate safely through without damaging any merchandise around him/her. The only exception to tension on the lead is if s/he is pulling your wheelchair.

5-Six Foot Recall on Lead:

Once in an open area, you will be prompted by your evaluator to perform a six-foot recall. On a six foot (or longer) leash, you will leave your dog in a stay, turn and call your dog to you. This must be an effortless and quick action. The dog must not dredge or solicit attention from strangers. Upon return, your dog must come close enough to be readily touched. Continue part 2 

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