ADA and Service Dog Registration—What You Need To Know2022-07-20
If you're an individual with a disability, a service dog may change your life.
Service dogs help their owners take back control of their life, from navigating transportation to fulfilling emotional needs, like therapy dogs.
But is specific documentation required to allow service dogs to accompany their owners everywhere?
This guide covers everything you need to know regarding registration for a service dog and your protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
What Is the ADA and Service Dog Registration?
According to ShareAmerica, nearly half a million service dogs are helping people with disabilities every day. A service dog performs an invaluable function, which is why they have protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA is the body of federal laws enforced by the Department of Justice that pertain to people with disabilities. It includes entitlements and regulations around public accommodations, airlines, and transportation. The ADA ensures a service dog can accompany its handler anywhere the public is allowed.
State and local governments have their specifics regarding the ADA, but a service dogs' registration database is available to every owner.
The Service Dog Registration is not a government entity, but a privately owned company that helps service dog owners receive timely legal updates and allows owners to purchase products for their service dog.
Is It True Service Animals Must Get ADA Registration?
The law regarding service pets is that they must be allowed to help their owners and trained to provide a specific task, with or without training and registration. The registry is there to serve the public but is not proof of an animal's status.
However, having a registration number and ID card can help identify your dog when asked for identification, and act as a mechanism to help find your service dog if lost.
What Disabilities Qualify for a Service Animal Under the ADA?
An individual may require assistance for any number of things related to their disability. Below are the most common disabilities that may require an assistance animal :
A dog trained to help its owner with partial or complete deafness can respond to sounds (e.g., oven timers, doorbells, smoke alarms, or babies' cries) and lead its owner away from danger.
People with partial or complete blindness can often benefit from a dog's assistance. For example, a service dog can help its owner navigate public places like restaurants and grocery stores or cross a busy street.
Paralysis/ Mobility-Related Issues
A dog can help an individual who uses a wheelchair complete everyday tasks, such as opening doors, retrieving dropped items, and fetching things like the phone.
Even before the symptoms of seizure show up, a service dog can help.
People with service animals can get them individually trained to recognize the symptoms of oncoming seizures. The dog can then retrieve medicine or press a button for 911 assistance.
According to Epilepsy.com, seizure service dogs can help their handlers make their way to the floor before a seizure begins to prevent injuries.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety Disorders
PTSD or psychiatric service dogs can help veterans, victims of abuse, or people with generalized anxiety and other mental health problems. These animals can interrupt panic episodes and bouts of anxiety. They can also awake their owners from nightmares in the middle of the night.
Service Animals vs. Emotional Support Animals
Emotional support animals (ESAs) don't undergo specific training and therefore don't receive the same ADA protections.
Instead, ESAs provide companionship to their owners, who struggle with such health issues as loneliness, anxiety, and depression. There's some crossover with therapy dogs, but ESAs don't need training.
A service animal differs from an emotional support animal in that it can perform functions for its owner that they can not perform for themselves. For this reason, these dogs are given a full bill of rights under the ADA.
Does the ADA Require Service Dogs To Be Professionally Trained?
No. Anyone with a service animal may train their animal themselves. They do not need to enlist the help of a professional service dog training program, though it is advisable.
However, if you want to make your dog a service animal, you should know that the ADA does acknowledge that the handler or owner is solely responsible for overseeing basic care of that animal, such as grooming, nourishment, veterinary care and proper potty training.
Please note that while service animals are not required to be formally trained, they are subject to the same licensing and registration requirements your local area may have.
What to Look for in a Service Dog
Whichever breed of dog you choose, look for one with the following characteristics:
- A strong ability to maintain focus
- Ready to work
- Confident but not dominant
- Friendly and people-oriented
- A steady temperament
- An ability to stay calm in crowds
An animal that naturally has these characteristics will be easier to train.
Remember, these little companions will be with you for a long time. Pick a dog that you can see yourself falling in love with to be your constant companion through thick and thin.
Where Are Service Pets Allowed to Go?
The ADA states service animals are allowed to go anywhere that serves the public and that a business cannot refuse them access. However, that's a broad definition. Below are more specific on the three most common places a person with a disability has rights to accommodation:
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) states that your service dog can accompany you on your flight, but please note that in January of 2021 most domestic airlines no longer extend this same privilege to Emotional Support Animals.
Remember, the primary difference is that a service dog is trained to perform potentially lifesaving tasks and is an essential animal. Emotional support needs aren't usually enough to get your dog easy access on your flight.
The Department of Transportation guarantees protections in both private and public accommodations for your service dog. If you need to go on the subway, train, take an Uber or other rideshare, bus, or any public transportation, local authorities can't discriminate against you and your service animal.
The Fair Housing Act requires landlords and other housing providers to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities and their service pets. It states these protections must apply even on properties that do not allow pets, and the person with a disability cannot be required to pay an additional fee.
How Can I Register My Service Dog?
According to federal law, public and private businesses cannot ask for proof of a service dog's status.
However, handlers need to follow state and local laws for their dogs. This includes being up to date with vaccinations and other registrations and licenses. Check with your state and local authorities for specific requirements.
You can also register through Service Dog Registration of America. This is free to do and will let you stay in the know about changing legal requirements.
Do I Need an ID Card?
It's not required for a handler to carry around documentation. However, it's not uncommon for a business to ask several basic questions to verify the dog is an essential animal.
However, in some situations, an ID card may be helpful. For example, suppose you expect to bring your dog into a restaurant, cafe, or any other business and don't want the hassle of answering questions regarding the animal's status. An ID card may be a quick way to reassure the employees and mitigate the hassle.
Soothe your mental stress by buying a harness for your dog to display the ID card and registration number. You can have an ID card issued wherever you register your dog.
Get the Help You Deserve
Individuals with disabilities receive innumerable benefits from owning service dogs: emotional support, physical assistance, lifesaving support, and companionship with a wonderful animal.
If you have any questions about the ADA or registration, you can call them toll-free at 800-514-0383 (TTY) or get in touch with us at Service Dog Registration of America. Get the help you deserve today.
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