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Service Dogs

Published on August 10th, 2017

Service or assistance dogs are specifically trained to help those with a disability or specific needs; they are different from other working dogs, such as police or search-and-rescue dogs. Service dogs must be trained to assist their handler with something directly related to their disability, meaning that emotional support and therapy dogs are not considered service dogs for the most part.

Under the Law

Most of us have seen a service dog in a restaurant or in an apartment that does not allow pets; this is because service dogs are not pets. Under the Fair Housing Act and the American With Disabilities Act, service dogs must be allowed entrance to restaurants, government facilities, nonprofit organizations, and more. Service dogs are typically leashed or harnessed at all times, or are at least under control. Businesses are only allowed to ask if the dog is a service animal and the tasks the dog has been trained to do; they are not allowed to ask about the disability or charge more money because of the dog.

Types of Service Dogs

There are a variety of disabilities that service dogs can be trained for, and it is a demanding training program. While most people think of service dogs for those that are visually impaired, there are many types, including:

  • Hearing dogs
  • Mobility Assistance dogs
  • Seizure Response dogs
  • Diabetes Assistance dogs
  • Mental Health Service dogs

These dogs are specifically trained to note changes in their handler, and can tell when a seizure may occur, their blood sugar is high or low, and more. Since dogs can be scent-trained, they can often realize things before humans ever do, which includes medical problems.

Overall, service dogs provide safety and assistance to those that have a disability, particularly for anyone that has a hard time going from one place to the other. Remember: if you see a service dog, it may be tempting to go say hi and pet them, but they are on the job!

Courtesy of: The Spruce