How Do You Prove Your Dog is a Service Dog?2022-07-23
Since the 1920s, the service dog has helped aid people with disabilities. But it’s only recently that the public has begun to realize the tremendous benefits dogs can have for our physical and mental health. It has led to a surge in people bringing their pets in public.
The prevalence of pets in public presents different challenges for people with service dogs. If you're already the lucky owner of an SA (Service Animal), you've likely had someone ask you to prove your dog's status, especially in no-pets establishments. It can be a frustrating experience, but it doesn't have to be.
As we'll discuss below, you can feel confident about taking your SA anywhere with practice and the right tools.
Can People Legally Ask For Proof of Your Service Dog?
The short answer is yes. An employee of a business is welcome to ask two questions of anyone entering their brick and mortar. First, they can inquire if your pup is a required service animal because of a disability. Secondly, they can legally ask what tasks or work the dog has undergone training to execute.
One exception is airports. TSA is federally allowed to require a US Department of Transportation Form attesting to the animal's health, training, and behavior. They can also request a separate form attesting to your dog's ability not to relieve itself on a flight longer than 8 hours. Luckily and legally, all commercial airports must have a post-security Service Animal Relief Area (SARA).
How to Prove Your Dog is a Service Dog
Beyond what is legally permissible for others to ask you about your service dog, however, there is a pretty extensive grey area. First, there is no requirement for proof for your service animal. Staff members are not legally allowed to ask for documentation or request that the dog perform any of the tasks it has trained to do. They also are not allowed to inquire about the owner's disability as this violates the mandates of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
However, it's safe to say that not every American is up to date on the law. While most people love dogs, it isn't uncommon for Service Animals to meet resistance in areas that typically don’t allow pets. So if you're regularly traversing through public space with your SA, it can be a wise idea to carry some form of identification. Proof of SA status can help you avoid the hassle of regular inquiries.
Here are some easy additions that should save you time and energy as you and your service pup navigate public places:
Overlaying vests in bright colors can be an efficient way to communicate that your animal is more than just a pet. These half- body mantles can quickly identify your pet as a service dog.
When combined with informational language (i.e., “Service Animal" or “Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working"), this vest immediately draws attention to your animal. It sets the story straight about its purpose in public spaces.
A harness can be less overt but still have the same effect as an ID vest upon closer inspection. Make sure to measure the widest part of your dog's ribcage circumference and choose the correct size for a secure fit.
Once again, try to combine the harness with identifying language. Purchase a harness with Velcro strips for patches that can educate and be a fashionable accessory.
A formal ID card can be a great aid that can provide a sense of legitimacy to your dog's presence.
Consider a laminated PVC identification card with a picture of your dog, the tasks or work they've been trained to do, and your name and contact information in case of an emergency.
While you are in no way required to have this, it's not uncommon for employees to act out if they're not used to having an animal (no matter how well trained) in their business.
If you're encountering a particularly stubborn and uninformed person, it might be time to familiarize them with the law per the American Disabilities Act. Small business cards can educate and explain the ADA's mandates about service animals. They should put a stop to any unwarranted questioning as well as grant you the access you deserve.
While they may not respect the word of a stranger or customer, any employee will think twice about giving you trouble if you confront them with the law. A quick Google search will back up these cards, saving you a headache and the business from having a lawsuit filed against them.
Registration paperwork also can be an effective means of signaling the animal’s status. While you don’t have to register the SA under any laws, it can help to legitimize your service dog’s presence in public.
Service dogs perform critical tasks for people with disabilities, improving their owner’s quality of life. With identifying paperwork, you can inform others about how SAs are an enormous asset to you and our society.
Register Your Dog with SDRA
Service animals are only just coming into the public eye, and knowledge about them is moderate at best. They don't always receive the hero's welcome they deserve. Registering your animal with the Service Dog Registration of America is a simple and effective way of identifying your dog as more than just your best friend.
The Service Dog Registration of America provides resources and educational material to owners and the public. We see the tremendous benefit these animals give to people with disabilities and non-disabled members of society.
Register your dog today and save yourself the headache of having to explain yourself. SDRA has complete packages, including registration paperwork, harnesses, IDs, legal business cards, and up-to-date information about traveling with your Service Animal. Outfit your Service Dog and gain more time to live your life freely.
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