How do you handle questions about your Service Dog?

by Sue on April 4, 2011

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As you may already know, I have a service dog named Gunny. Gunny is a psychiatric service dog. But it seems like when ever you mention that word to people, they immediately think your a crackpot. I don’t consider myself a crackpot. I suffer from PTSD and it brings on panic attacks. Gunny handles this by begging for attention. This stops them by diverting my attention. To make it easy on everyone, when someone asks me what Gunny is for, I just tell them he is an Alert dog. This seems to satisfy people. As they automatically think he is a seizure dog. I don’t care if they think that. And technically he is an alert dog because he alerts me when I’m about to have an attack.

I began suffering from these 5 years ago. After seeing my best friend (who was more like a son to me) attacked and killed by a stranger. Despite my efforts to fend off the attacker, with the ending result that I shot and killed the attacker, my friend still died. I guess everyone’s mind has a limit on how much it can take. That was mine. It was after this that the panic attacks set in. I was diagnosed with PTSD. This is when I learned that you do not have to be a Veteran to have it.

Yesterday, while I was in Costco, I had someone come up to me and say with a sneer…”Is that really a service dog,or just a pet?” As much as I wanted to reply with a smart remark after his rude question, I simply replied “Well I would be in a awful lot of trouble if I was passing him off as one. Yes he is my Service Dog”

This led me to a question to post to the group. How do you handle rude questions? How do you handle it when someone asks you what your dog is for? Have you ever had someone so pushy that you ended up having to tell them that you would rather not talk about it, or to mind their own business?

Sussie and Gunny

{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

1 EJ Mandigo 04.04.11 at 12:19 pm


Thanks so much for sharing your story! It was a big help for me, as I too have often wondered how to handle these situations. My dog Lassa is also a psychiatric dog, and is invaluable to me. Often I find that questions follow about me and my illnesses, much of which is personal to me.

2 andrea 04.04.11 at 2:49 pm

hello, i work at a private botanical garden which is open to the public. most folks with their Service Animals have identifying vests and tags and we love to have these dogs visit us. what we have had lately is people who know they don’t need to prove anything to our admissions staff. “you can’t keep me out of here…” type of comments. we definitely don’t discriminate against people, but we do discriminate against dogs vs. pets. we also know folks can get fake IDs and walk right in to our business. arizona law says it is illegal to lie about a pet being an Assist Dog, but if we can’t ask for proof, where is the teeth in this part of the laws interpretation? we give people our rules for coming in the garden with their dog, vest or no vest. a truly trained Service Dog never behaves inappropriately, so we can monitor the animals while they are inside and make sure they are on a short leash, not barking/jumping, chasing rabbits, etc. i would like to comment to people using Service Animals that it makes a big difference for the public and employees of a business to see the animal wearing the proper gear that sets them apart from ordinary pets. why would a disabled person bring an animal into a business without it? do they want to get hassled? I think not. i believe it is the fakers who argue about “proof” and bully their way in with their pet because they can’t leave it at home where it belongs. our organization has gone ’round and ’round reading laws and such so we don’t do anything wrong. how can the fakers get aways with it if we can’t make them show us proof of certifcation/vaccination, etc.? is there a lawyer in the house? Thanks. Ranger Andrea, Phoenix

3 Joshua 04.04.11 at 6:51 pm

Aloha, I tend to kill those who try and challenge me with my two girls who are service animals for me, with my wit and verbage. Sometimes I will ask, would you like me to rip off my leg to prove something to you? They reply no as a rule of course, then I say, good cause both my legs are good to go and laugh, then add but not all physical/mental problems are that easily seen. I also carry my attorneys card in my wallet and offer them to contact him for verification while advising them he does charge by the hour or in your case by the stupid question. Being a retired Marine I dont take much gruff from anyone so I presume that my over all demeanor might not open the door for dumb questions. Thanks.

4 SDUsr 04.06.11 at 1:13 am

Andrea, fake service dogs can wear vests, too. They are easily obtainable online on eBay or other Web sites. Mobility and guide harnesses are also available online, but they generally cost a couple to several hundred dollars, so most fakers would likely not go to that expense to sneak their pet in.

More importantly, real service dog handlers do indeed argue when a business illegally asks them for proof that their dog is a service dog. That is discrimination (you don’t ask other customers for ID just for them to access your business). Not all service dog teams carry proof of the dog’s/team’s training with them (I’d say most do not). Not all service dog teams have a piece of paper/certification that they are a service dog team/the dog has been trained to fit the law because some people owner-train their dogs, use trainers that don’t certify the dogs or don’t offer a piece of paper saying so, or use a program that doesn’t hand out certification (if any such organization exists). Certification is not required in the U.S. What is required is training – the dog must be trained to do something that mitigates the person’s disability and it must be directly related to the disability. The dog also must be trained to behave in public, be housebroken, and be on a leash (or, if such can’t be used due to the disability or tasks, verbal/hand command control).

You can legally ask two questions: Is the dog required because of your disability? What tasks/work has the dog been trained to do for you that directly relate to your disability? You cannot ask somebody what their disability is/what the nature of their disability is. You cannot ask for proof that the dog is a service dog. You cannot require a dog wear a vest, harness, or other identifying gear, although most real service dogs do wear a vest, harness, or pack.

If a service dog (real or fake) is misbehaving and the owner cannot regain control, such as a dog continually barking in a movie theatre, you may legally kick the service dog out at that time. You must allow the owner to come back into the business without the dog to finish their business there.

Remember, it is the PERSON who has the access rights, not the dog!

Animals for comfort, emotional support, their presence, etc. and animals for aggressive protection are not service dogs and should not be allowed into public places where pets are not allowed (or any public place for the aggressive protection dogs!).

5 SDUsr 04.06.11 at 1:23 am

Sussie, you don’t have to answer the public’s questions if you don’t want to. If you are too shy to tell them they are rude, just tell them you are busy in the middle of shopping/eating/etc. If you have trouble talking to people, you can hand out a card or pamphlet with general information about service dogs on it (or even information about your particular dog, if you wish).

You also should just stop caring what they think, as it doesn’t really matter. :)

In addition, don’t dress your dog in T-shirts like the “Coca-Cola” T-shirt it is wearing in the photo on this page. That is unprofessional and sends the big-red-flag message that you are a faker. An unobtrusive bandanna is fine.

You do have to tell a business that the dog is there because it is trained to help you due to your disability and also what tasks/work the dog is trained to do for you that directly relates to your disability.

Has a trainer confirmed that your dog is indeed alerting and not just freaking out because he senses your panic? (A lot of dogs will panic if their human panics and some people mistake that for an alert.) Remember that petting a dog/emotional support/the dog’s presence is not a trained task/work so does not qualify a dog as a service dog under U.S. law. The dog must be trained to do something for you and that something must directly relate to your disability. I have not read your Blog to see if your dog does tasks/other tasks for you other than the alert/possible panic. Just trying to help!

6 Lifebunny 04.06.11 at 2:33 pm

I had a Costco employee see me in an aisle, and saw as she began to walk toward me purposefully, and as she said “That’s a cute puppy, but…” I replied, “she is my service dog”.

That brought her up short, she quickly apologized, said “have a good day”, and walked away.

When people ask what she does for me, I explain that she is a medical alert dog. If they press, I explain that she alerts me to my condition before it happens, so that I can take my medication in time for it to be useful.

After that, they leave me alone.

7 Ross Jensen 04.11.11 at 6:13 am

Where can I get the proper training for my wifes ESA animal? My wife suffers severe depression and other issues do to the fact I travel a lot. I would like to seek the proper :service animal taining to be in compliance of public acceptance.

8 Claire Arrico 04.11.11 at 6:46 am

I also have a service dog, a pomeranian who has been trained in CGC and also as a therapy dog. She is also my service dog.I too have many medical problems that at times don’t wish to tell people about I do carry a letter from my Dr. I do get kicked out of stores before I even enter most of the time, or let me explain. But I do report them to there main store andd have seen action taken place. On one store now there is a sign stating all service dogs are welcome. My next question where do you get training in Rhode Island for your dog to become a service dog?

9 susan 04.11.11 at 6:54 am

I own an apartment in a non-pet building in Connecticut. I recently acquired an emotional support animal and in spite of my psycholositsts letter, they are adamant with therir rules. My non-barking dog weighs 12 pounds and I always carry him to my car (never using the elevator) Any suggestions?

10 Kathryn 04.11.11 at 7:03 am

First, so sorry you (and all of us with service dogs) have to deal with rude people. Personally, I have begun trying to match their attacks or questions with an equivalent level of energy. If it is just someone who is genuinely curious I try to teach them about service dogs (especially if it is a child). I have had people say things like, “You don’t look handicapped.” To which I reply, “You don’t look stupid.” Sometimes you have to match energy for energy. Take care.

11 Ronnie 04.11.11 at 8:23 am

When people ask me I have to just say he is my service dog and he will alert me to take my medication if I’m about to have an attack because of PTSD. I carry a copy of my doctors letter with me as well as my dog has a vest & Photo ID card with his registration number on it. His ID has both his and my photograph on it.

I have not had a Problem since I have been able to keep Mario with me. He does keep me calm and I’m guessing that is why my doctor at the VA provided the documentation for me to get his credentials.

I have had to show the letter and ID card at a few different Motels/Hotels to get a room but I did not mind. We have never been turned away. My Mario is a Welsh Pembroke Corgi and does look more like he would be a pet then a service dog but when his vest goes on he is all business and knows he is “Working” .

I really don’t know how I ever got along without him.

12 Lin Ireland 04.11.11 at 8:25 am

If there is a problem with a dog for emotional support, this INCLUDES a senior citizen with a companion dog you can contact the ADA- Americans With Disabilities and get their rules and report the apartment house where you live for not taking your dog. Generally what is needed is a letter from your doctor saying why the animal is needed by you. I train and evaluate for canine good citizen (CGC) and this is really all the training needed for a psych dog unless there are other issues you have. I have three psych dogs and a diabetic warning dog in my home and one who is being trained as a psych dog. Not allowing you to have the dog is illegal and can be taken to court.

13 Carolyn 04.11.11 at 8:58 am

I have a 3 year old Queensland Heeler for a PSD and I often get rude questions in supermarkets and restaurants asking me what my dog does because I don’t “look” handicapped. I suffer from severe bipolar disorder and my dog alerts me to take medication, alerts me to alarms if I don’t hear them, protects me in a crowd (I get panicky if people crowd around me when I am having an attack) and will very politely stand between me and any stranger that she perceives as a threat to my well being. When people question her presence, I politely tell them she is a service dog that helps me, and if they ask what she does for me I tell them that I consider that a personal question. If a business owner or store employee asks, as they have a right to, I show them her photo ID and any other paperwork they want to see, and that usually takes care of it. I have only had one store owner be insistent about asking what she did, so I told him, and he got very embarrassed and left me alone! I have friends with Guide Dogs who get questioned all the time too, so even if you have an obvious disability you run into this kind of trouble.

14 Bev 04.11.11 at 9:09 am

I have PTSD and have great difficulty driving by myself, going into shopping malls or large stores, etc. Big dogs just didn’t work for me, so I got Gracie, a 4.5 chihuahua in 2008. She was certified by a service dog group in California and she is a natural, staying tucked under my arm or in a doggie sling, sitting quietly next to me in restaurants while I eat . . . no begging, no nothing . . . just sitting. I have seen people confront managers at restaurants or storm our, vowing to never return to an establishment that allows pets. I have been challenged many time by store managers. I respectfully pull out my ID card and a card I made re: psychiatric service dogs. The few times I have attempted to explain why Gracie is a service dog to regular people, I get rolled eyes. One time I was in WalMart and a young male employee told me dogs weren’t allowed in the store. I pulled out the tag, he looked at it, looked at me and said, “Yeah right.” and went back to work. I tried to walk away, but then I heard him making fun of us, so I went back and confronted him, asked that he go with me to the manager, and told the manager that he needs to educate his employees re: service dogs. Even Bill Maher showed a photo of a pomeranian in a sweater and made a comment about service dogs. I immediately fired off an email to him. All we can do is educate people. I wish there were vests made for small psychiatric service dogs. People have wanted to know what she does for me. As in fetching things, etc. I try to explain that she keeps me distracted so I don’t obsess on my surroundings and trigger a panic attack. But then there’s the explanation about what a panic attack is. Argh!! I’m sure if she were a well-trained large dog, I wouldn’t have these problems. As it is, I continue to take her with me, bite my tongue, and explain. Some managers have been rude . . . to the point that I thought of calling and filing a complaint. But so far, I haven’t had to. And I try to remain calm and respectful, but it’s really HARD sometime.

15 Judy Neese 04.11.11 at 9:41 am

I would say 19 of 20 people ask what my condition is that I need a service dog including businesses. They assume that if the dog doesn’t have a harness like a seeing eye dog that they are not really service dogs. My medical alert dog allows me to drive. I have severe migraines at least 3x a week that made me stop in traffic which was a hazard. When the doctor told me I couldn’t drive anymore, I told him about my then 6 yr. old Bichon frise that has alerted to my migraines since she was 14 mo. old. He told me to do what I needed to do to get her certified as my medical alert dog. I visited with a woman in town was has had medical alert dogs her entire life and is now training them for autistic children and adults. She went through the paces with Belle and said that there was nothing more she could train her to do. She has been a certified therapy dog for over 5 years and understands different social settings. She is very well behaved but since she is a white fluffy dog, nearly everyone wants us to stop so they can pet her. I had a pharmacist at Walmart tell me I was passing her off as a service dog when she obviously couldn’t be one (wrong breed). I tell people I need her to ride with me when I drive or I am not allowed to drive and that she keeps all the other drivers out there safe. They usually don’t ask me any more. I need to take her everywhere I go so I know when not to get behind the wheel if a migraine is coming on. She alerts 10-15 minutes before the aura hits.

I figure it is my goal to educate people as to how to approach or not approach a service animal. I talk with many schools, libraries, nursing homes, civic groups, and churches about my therapy/service dog and they truly don’t know what the laws are. Especially businesses are uninformed. I did have a lady approach me as I was getting out of the car one time. I had my keys in my hand, leash in the other and my transition lens’ were dark because of the sun. She asked me how the dog helped me drive since I was obviously blind. I told her that my dog knew her left from her right and was very helpful. She seemed satisfied and walked away. You have to keep a sense of humor when dealing with a nation that hasn’t a clue was a service dog is or does.

16 Barbara Thompson 04.11.11 at 11:21 am

I have a small dog – Butch – who is my buddy AND my SD. He alerts me when I am about to have ‘an attack’ by staring at me and growling from his carrier when I have him in a retail establishment. Yes, some people are very, very rude about asking ‘what kind of service does that little thing provide?’ To which I reply, ‘A huge one!’ If they push the subject of what his service is, I get rude myself and tell them, ‘That is no one’s business!’ Usually, after that, they leave us alone.

17 Ginger 04.11.11 at 12:55 pm

I have an 8lb ShihTzu that serves as a warning that my blood sugar has gotten too low. I am severly hypoglycemic. I have learned to just answer that the dog is my “Medical Alert Device”. When some ask what the condition is I just say that it is personal, if they persist I just quietly say “I bet your one of those people that want to rub a strange pregnant womans belly”. Don’t have a problem after that. Rather crude but it works.

18 Myra Elwell 04.11.11 at 1:00 pm

I have a service dog named Alvin, a Beagle. I’d been looking for a suitable dog for a long time, ever since my medical condition started making me have blackouts and fainting spells. The medical condition got bad enough that I was classified as a disabled person. Cricket, the first dog, a poodle, alerts on me when I’m about to have an episode, but she couldn’t be trained out of her barking and other habits. None the less, she’s very valuable to me while I am at home and I love her to death. Alvin was obtained specifically so I could train him myself with the aid of a certified trainer. He’s not a dog obtained thru a classic service dog organization as the waiting list for someone like me was very long. My medical condition is low on the priority list versus someone who is blind, deaf, physically handicapped or has PSTD. When my doctor told me of the option to train one myself, I started looking into it. This option is not for everyone, as it takes a lot of hard work, consistency and above all, an excellent matching of dog to person because you are starting from scratch, not with a dog who’s been trained all its life to work with whomever it was assigned to. I wasn’t sure Alvin would work, but he was young enough to try.
The boy passed his intial training with flying colors, enough to get him his ID. He’s got a mellow personality that is also very friendly, interested and curious. His body language is open, calm and alert. His tail and ears are always up in alert, calm, interested pose and he’s very good with people and other animals. Bonus, he bonded with me so tightly, he’s completely *my* dog.
I’ve never had a problem with him until I went to a local laundromat that is run by a Hispanic Immigrant. She tried to kick me out because of their no dogs/pets rule. I had to educate her. I tried to be polite about it, showing her his id and the card I have explaining it. She couldn’t read english. I can’t speak spanish. I finally told her “Look, if you kick me out of here, it is illegal and I *will* file a civil lawsuit against this business. He is a *working* dog, not a pet. Would you like to call your boss and I will discuss it with him?” She backed off. I filed a complaint against the business. The only other place I’ve had issues is the local big cheap grocery store. A clerk gave me grief, I led him to a manager and explained, in the manager’s presence, that Alvin was indeed a service dog and his job was to let me know when I was in danger of losing consciousness, rather like alerting on a seizure. To deny me his presence meant I could have an episode in their store, wind up hitting my head on something, getting a severe injury and then the store would be liable. I asked the clerk if he thought it was worth his job or worth the owners of the store possibly closing down because he violated a FEDERAL law. He was very embarassed and apologized. Then I asked the manager *why* the store’s employees were not trained about persons with disabilities and service dogs even tho there was a sign that said service dogs were welcome? I haven’t had a problem since in that store.
Alvin is still in training. He’s passed enough to qualify for his ID and is my service dog, but he’s got to complete more advanced training yet. He still gives me a “Are you nuts?” look when we go someplace super busy and noisy, like a bar and grill, but sits right beside me and his body language is still calm, polite, open and friendly, though his expression often says “I’m only doing this because I love you, you know that, right? I still think you’re crazy.” He’s kept me from having an episode more than once and in places I frequent, as soon as he starts alerting, I have people who will immediately come to stand next to me, supporting me just in case. Once it’s passed, everyone praises Alvin and I even catch them trying to sneak him treats out of the kitchen where my husband works. (Which means they are cajoling my husband to make something to bring to me to give to Alvin as he’s been trained not to accept anything from anyone but me.)
I guess I haven’t had much of a problem *because* I frequent places that all have people who know about service animals or welcome thier presence. I am careful to keep Alvin next to me and his training is ongoing. He knows not to bark, beg or be a nuisance. The responsibility for his being accepted and welcomed wherever I go is on me. I have to make sure he’s a model dog. Unfortunately, the “fakers” out there have made our jobs more difficult. Ergo, we have to look at it as being the parent of a smaller child who must be taught grown up manners and at the same time, we have to look at it as being an employer training an employee to be the ultimate professional. We can’t just assume because we are disabled and have a service animal that we can go anywhere we want to and it will be like it was before. Nope, welcome to the job, yes, job of being a person with a disability or medical condition that warrants a service animal. It really is too bad we don’t get paid for it. We’d make bank. :-)

19 Alice Bell 04.11.11 at 1:20 pm

For those that are asking about where or how to train your service dog:
The Federal law says the dog can be trained in any fashion you choose. Many owners train their own dogs, or have a professional do the training.
Your doctor must write a letter to certify your disability and how your service dog helps you. Then get an identification tag from Spot!
It is more difficult to get emotional certifications, and those papers are subject to scrutiny whereas papers may not be required for any physical disability.

I wish I could find the perfect answer for other’s probing questions. It is not business owners that are asking…it is the general population.
I liked the response from the former Marine, but I couldn’t pull that off.

20 Lifebunny 04.11.11 at 1:28 pm

From what I’m reading here, there are a lot of disabled individuals out there who seem to think that their service dogs must be “registered” or “certified” to be considered a service dog. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Service animals do NOT have to be professionally trained, registered or certified, as per the ADA. You are not even legally required to use a vest/cape to identify your service dog as being such, however having your service dog wear one can help to reduce challenges to your “right” to have your service dog with you.

In fact, people who provide “service dog registration” are running a scam that nets them money and takes your money, and nothing more.

You do NOT have to show a doctor’s note or any type of “proof” that your dog is a service animal when you go into a store or stay in a hotel/motel. If someones demands to see something like that, they are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and can face severe fines if they are reported and are found to be in violation.

That said, an Emotional Service Animal is NOT the same thing as a service dog, and are not covered under the same rules as service dogs under the ADA. You can’t take them with you everywhere you go, as you would a service dog. ESAs are protected under housing rules (you need FiFi to keep you emotionally stable where you live, even though your apartment building forbids the keeping of dogs/cats), but that’s essentially it.

21 Sandy 04.11.11 at 2:04 pm

I have a small SD & she has her ID tags. I always carry papers with me.
She was my therapy dog when I worked in a medical facility and after I retired a few years later I needed her for my Service Dog. Sometimes motels will ask for papers to make copies to be clipped to my reservation bill for their records. If there is any question I always offer for them to see the papers. Sam’s & Walmart’s have always been polite & courteous when spotting her tag.
When people ask why she is a service dog & what does she do, I just politely say,” She provides a service to me.” If they want to know what is wrong with me, I just tell them that they can not ask that question as my medical information is private. (She does alert three ways…by pawing my arm, a small whine(if she is in her cart) or stare & press…I do not always know when I’m going to have a “sugar drop”.)
Because she was a therapy dog in a senior medical setting, she is very social. We used her to redirect patients with Alzheimer’s disease, or provide comfort for a depressed person by sliding her head up under their hand as a gesture to be petted…this also lowered blood pressure for some patients who would be in temporary crisis due to seeing someone almost fall, or their own balance problem, or upset from an outburst from another patient. She also would sit quietly with them as long as they needed.
So when we are in the store and she is riding in the shopping cart, if an elderly impaired person speaks “baby talk” to her, she raises up so they can pet her. I mostly use a little dog cart with wheels, as I can no longer carry her in the shoulder bag. It also fits under the table in restaurants and in a shopping cart. I can zip it up for privacy for me and for her. She is very quiet & very well trained.

22 John 04.11.11 at 3:06 pm

I too have the same issue. However I have learned not to allow “other peoples opinion bother me anymore.” Talk about problems with being discriminate against, how about “your whole blood family.” I have three sisters and numerous nieces, nephews and even great nieces and nephews. My three sisters have brainwashed their children to think I am a fake just trying to gain some attention. When truly that is the opposite. I don’t want to be in the center of attention. Because my PTSD has got so bad I now have agoraphobia. I stay inside and feel a prisoner of my own home. On top of my PTSD I have lost my right leg during Hurricane Katrina. My wife of 28 years commited suicide over Katrina and me loosing my right leg and now bound to a wheelchair. My suggestion would be to ignore the ignorant and be friends to those who are true friends. See if you can find a PTSD group to share your concerns with. I am a Vietnam vet, and the V. A. Hospital has M/H groups who meet once a week. Your problems will get better when you meet in group, as you will hear simular stories like yours and different ways those folks are handling their issues with PTSD.

23 John 04.11.11 at 3:28 pm

My 9 y/o female GSD is my Service Dog for the same reasons. I have had my right arm blown off and reattached. It happened back in 1973 but I have never got over staring down that 12 ga barrel and seeing the orange flash as I was shot. I almost lost my life then. When I lost my righ leg it was when I was in a motor home trying to return to the Gulf Coast after Katrina. The trailer brakes failed on a Missouri Ozark mountain and it went over a 708 ft. mountain, crashed and burnt to the frame. Prior to all of that, I was already on SSDI since 2002 from working as a Supervisor in a Level I trauma center for 18 years. I was also in charge of the Co. Morgue taking in bodies in all forms of mutilation. Heads blown off (suicides) burnt, rotton decomposed etc. After 18 years I began to have several panic attacks. I did not know what it was. I thought it was my heart. But after many doctors examining me I was told I was no longer able to work in the work force and even without asking, I was labled a lost cause and the Govt. put me on SSDI. My female GSD was given to me by my wife several years before she shot herself in the heart and died in my arms. My dog alerts me the same as yours does. In fact she (as old as she is) will jump up and start to lick my face when she feels I am going into a panic attack. My Phyciatrist told me it was a good thing to keep her at my side at all times. He said he had no problem with me using her as my Service Dog. I did not have to train her much to get her to be my service dog as she was in the motor home and went through the windshild yet surviced. I was burnt and lost my right leg. I am right handed. So now with my right leg gone and my right arm barly useful anymore, I can’t go in public without her. If I am asked, I simply say she is my Service Dog. I have yet to have someone rude enough to accuse me of just using her as a pet. She is much more than that for me. However if someone did accuse me of faking it, I would simply say. “Sorry about your ignorance.” Too bad they don’t have Service Dogs who alert you before you meet a person as rude and ignorant as you are. Peace and have a good day. That would most likely do the trick. I would not worry about their opinion as I know there are many ignorant people out there.

24 Robin B. 04.12.11 at 9:56 am

You don’t have to tell them anything, other then this is my Service Dog. I have RSD/CRPS in my upper body, if you see my out in town I don’t look disabled. If someone asks me what is wrong with me I say “I don’t discuss my medical info with people I don’t know, and not everyone that is disabled is blind or in a wheelchair, thats a big misconception”. Then I just walk off or ignore them. I have made flyers and if I have them with me that day I give them one. It has info about SD’s and disabilities, how to act around a SD and the law regarding fake SDs.
I have learned to look these people in the eye and deal with them, it was hard at first, but you can do it. Have a good day :)

25 Harriet 04.12.11 at 9:27 pm

I am training a golden retriever to be my service dog. She and I are having a blast with the whole process. She is still young and wears a “service dog in training” bandanna. I don’t look disabled and used to get hassled all the time about my disabled parking permit. My favorite response was to ask for the person’s name and phone number telling them that I was sure my doctor would appreciate their insight into my condition. That usually shut people up. Because my dog is a breed associated with service dogs, no one questions me now when she is with me. A nice switch.

26 Linda 04.16.11 at 11:17 pm

My service dog is not a typical breed, so we get lots of questions. He is a 115 pound malamute, but that weight is what I need to keep me from falling. I too do not look disabled, unless I have just landed on the floor (which is getting farther down and harder as I get older!).

I just try to say he is a balance dog. If that doesn’t do it then I say he helps keep me from falling.

I have had to show my handicapped permit a couple of times, but not not for a while.

Most times we just approach things in a confident manner and no one says much, and if they do I just say he is a service dog (it is also on his vest).

I do think I am going to make a service dog bandanna for him for the summer weather.

27 Dr Ed 04.18.11 at 12:37 pm

People with mental illness are covered under the ADA and thus are entitled to use Service Animals too. I would suggest that they not state that their animal is for “emotional support” if they truly have a diagnosed mental/behavioral health disability. It is my understanding that emotional support is for someone that has for example a fear of flying in which they acquire comfort with their animal that helps them better deal with flying. However, I certainly am not suggesting that people be dishonest. Physical and mental disabilities are equal in the eye of the law.
I use a service animal in my practice and have encountered numerous people in Alaska and Oregon whom use service animals for mental health related reasons.
I have experienced numerous inappropriate people make remarks to persons with service animals. In fact, I took my buddy with me to several behavioral health related training conferences to highlight the use of service animals. During one conference, on the first day of this particular conference, a rude woman walked by, did a double look, and circled back to me to express, “Oh, you are blind; I did not know you are blind, you do not look blind”. She continued barking outrageous statements until I looked at her and responded, “Are you always this inappropriate and rude?” The other people sitting on my table were similarly appalled and similarly made comment to her regarding her loudness and rudeness.
Unfortunately there will always be ignorant people whom find delight in humiliating and/or trying to humiliate people different and sadly people with perceived mental illness simply for having a service animal. This is their issue! We decide what to share and to whom to share regarding our privacy. You might want to express, “Excuse me, do I know you” with a smile. If this does not work, simply smile at them and turn your head as if they are no longer there.
Finally, just remember that people cannot be charged a fee when traveling on an airline, entering public accommodations, using a hotel/motel, a pet deposit, etc. for a service animal.

28 Sandy 04.18.11 at 2:16 pm

I just posted on 4-11 but had a new humorous experience, a 1st for me.
I have to share a funny story that happened this week end. I was in a Dept Store and a young manager came up to me to explain their no dog policy because people were bringing in their pets & they left “deposits” on the floor. My SD is in a rolling cart, I show him the tag & say, “She is a Service Dog.” He responded very seriously, “Secret Service?” OMG I wanted to laugh so hard…but instead did the education. Of course he asked what was wrong with me…more education. Sometimes you just can’t fix stupid but you have to laugh!!! Made my day:)

29 Chiquita 04.25.11 at 12:05 am

I have had mostly good experiences having my 8-pound service dog with me for nearly 4 years. As a hearing service dog, he is essential at home and is often with me in public; a few people have expressed surprise that a such small dog/breed could be a service dog, but he does wear a vest that shows him to be a hearing service animal, so that helps, and he is silent and calm when in public.
I have had some interesting responses when I have inquired of airlines about what arrangements would be needed for flying with my service dog, who would not need a seat nor a spot on the floor. One airline said I would need a letter from his vet certifying all his shots were current/30 days and a current letter from my doctor stating why I needed a service animal, and he must be zipped into a carry-on bag, or small animal carrier and stuffed under my seat. Then he could fly with me, otherwise, no animals were allowed in the cabin or in baggage by that airline any more. I had flown this airline with him while he was in training and was charged for him as if for an extra bag, although he was supposed to be shoved under a seat. (His bag was, but he was in my pocket, which the steward staff acknowledged.) My question to others of you is this…even if your service dog is huge, requires extra space, or a seat, for a domestic flight have you had to provide the doctor’s current letter and vet certificate? At any time a family emergency could require a quick flight for the two of us across country and the last thing I would be thinking of would be a doctor visit and a vet trip so that I could have 30 day current certification of handicap and animal health. Another airline policy requests a state certification or disability letter! All inquiries I have made to various departments of my state which might have information about that led me directly back to the ADA of course, which we all know does not direct the states, or any other agency, for that matter, to certify individuals for disability status requiring service animals. Discussion with customer service personnel for airlines leads to zero clarification about what they really require in lieu of the impossible. I am wondering, how do you all make arrangements to fly, or if anyone else just buys a ticket for the best price and then notifies the airline there is a service animal involved?

30 Caroline 04.30.11 at 6:25 am

I suppose I have an assertion problem when it comes to Scarlet and myself. I bought Scarlet (my brindle great dane) at 12 wks intending to train her as a seizure response dog, as well as for my ptsd (I’m a combat Iraqi veteran). I was blessed when she came home with us, in that she is extremely smart and picked up the training immediatly alerting my husband when I was unconcious in the bathroom from a seizure and couldn’t get to me. She tried to get in, and when she couldn’t, went and got my husband. I had been feeling oddly all day, but assumed (we know what happens when you do that) that I was fighting off an anxiety attack, and she had been whimpering and pawing at me and trying to make me lie down. I say all day, though it truly had only been about an hour. I kept reassuring her that I was fine, but the next thing I knew I was laying on the bathroom with my husband and the EMT’s kneeling over me, and Scarlet looking at me with her “I told you so” face. I put it down as a blessing, but didn’t expect it to happen again, but thank God, it did. I walked down to the mailbox with her and had another seizure on the way, putting down her whining to not being used to being out of doors that much, but once again woke up with my husband standing over me, and again the chastising look from Scarlet. When I had passed out from the seizure, she had run back up the hill and pawed at the door and barked until she got my husbands attention and brought him to me. I had heard that seizure alert dogs were actually quite rare, so never expected it from my girl, but I’m thankful that I have that on top of a well trained best friend. My problem comes in here…I’ve trained her on what to do if I have a seizure (or perhaps she’s trained me at this point), as well as the necessary obedience training and more. She’s very bright, and requires constant learning or gets bored, but only at home. In public she acts like the child we wish all our children could be. But even though I know she helps me, and is a true gift, I’m so afraid of what people will say when I take her out in public…the confrontation part. This is where the PTSD kicks in, I’m afraid of the confrontation. Her training still isn’t complete, I don’t beleive, and mind you, she’s only 5 months old, but the size of a very large dog already. I say that her training isn’t complete, but perhaps it’s my training that isn’t, since she does all she’s supposed to do for me. How do you deal with the fear of possible confrontation? I’ve tried to find everything I can on assistance dogs online, but it’s so vast, I’m always afraid I’ve missed something! Any advice would be great!
Caroline (Carrie)

31 Matahari22 07.30.11 at 11:48 pm

I have suffered from clinical depression and anxiety, majority of my life. I had some major traumatic events and pretty much had a breakdown in 2005. Things reached a pretty critical point. I finally got help and was put on medication, which was a life saver. Things were better for the next year, and I finally understood what ‘normal’ people felt like, mostly happy, and not having panic attacks constantly, and being able to function. Then I found out my ex husband had been cheating on me and I left him, but things were spiraling back down. I picked up the pieces, and started feeling better when I got a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. The depression and anxiety with a diagnosis like that can be just crushing. I also had to put my dog, of 15 years down. I had disfiguring surgery, and radiation treatments and I am left with serious side effects that are permanent. In the mean time, I did get another dog. If it wasn’t for my dog, I would have never made it through treatment. We are very bonded, and he is always with me. I was pretty much home bound for an entire year because of my cancer battle, and getting back out and about, was difficult. I started having panic attacks again. I was very self concious about my appearance, I was down to only 87 lbs, and if people weren’t staring at me because of that, they were staring at my scar, or couldn’t understand was I was saying, because my speech was so effected from the radiation to my head and neck and mouth. I have also developed a serious ear issue, probably related to the radiation to my head, and I am over 50% deaf.

I read about service animals and I took my dog out with me, and I was able to function again. I have not had any panic attacks when I have been with him. I am finally off depression and anxiety meds. He has a carrier that is like a reverse back pack, and he sits in it and never makes a bark. I am in control of him at all times. I did get a service animal tag for him and had him registered as a service animal, even though I know that people are not required to have proof, but I find that it makes things easier. On the front of the pouch I also have a patch that says “Do not Pet Working Service Animal”.

Sometimes, I am amazed at how rude people can be. Today, I was in a bookstore in the mall, I am assuming that this woman must have been talking to me or trying to get my attention, but I didn’t hear her. She tapped me on my shoulder and looked at me and asked, “what’s wrong with you? Why do you have that dog?” I just asked if she was an employee, she said no, so I just turned around and walked away. I also have had people take my picture like I’m some kind of oddity. Last year, when I was walking into the mall, I heard some woman exclaim, “that poor dog! What an idiot woman!” My dog, when I get that harness in my hand goes crazy. He cannot wait to get in it. He knows we are going out. I put on the harness and sit down, and he jumps in and sits down. I also get a lot of snickering and laughing and eye rolling. Usually there is one person that makes a nasty comment everytime I go out. Usually something like I should not be allowed to bring an animal in stores, because I’m not sight impaired.

I just wish sometimes that people would not make such rude comments to other people. It’s not ok to ask personal questions to people. Strangers have even asked me about my scar. Why would you do that?

It just really bothered me today, and I just wondered how other people dealt with peoples comments and invasive questions.

Wishing you all well.

32 hero 09.13.11 at 9:15 pm

I’ve read several times here that ESA (emotional service animals) are NOT considered “service” dogs simply because their presence gives you some form of peace of mind. From what I understand, there are many “service” dogs which help people with mental disabilities; PTSD, psychosis, depression, etc.

Are we still living in the stone age when we reduce the need for service dogs for the mentally disabled?!?! As if being blind, epileptic, or diabetic is perfectly acceptable, but a mental illness is not considered a disability?! And yet, there are tens of thousands of people who are legally disabled, many receiving state and federal benefits because of debilitating mental illnesses. Panic attacks, medication reminders (particularly in the case of schizophrenics), bi-polar outbursts, confusion, etc….can all benefit from the calming presence of a trained service dog. Clearly if meds are part of the job, the dog must be trained to remind, or actually retrieve medications when they are due or needed, or to act as a spacing tool between the disabled and others who might be in uncomfortably close proximity. It bothers me that a calm, well-trained, well-socialized dog cannot be considered as an emotional stabilizer without the need to “perform” some physical task. I think the parameters defining service dogs for the mentally ill need to be expanded and fully recognized.

33 Linda 09.17.11 at 11:58 pm

Carrie, I would get some of the ID cards. Get her a vest or bandanna to wear.
Start local at places you have been going. Your normal store. Clue some of the people you have been around there to the fact she is a seizure alert dog (that is all that she needs to be to be a service dog. The PTSD may or may not qualify her with the law change and why fight that battle if you don’t need to), when they ask. You will probably find it is not an issue at all. Once you are comfortable there branch out to the next place or two. I find in our local town they are pretty used to my guy in just a few months and not much is said.
More was said when I went without him a few days when he hurt his foot and was not walking well. They wanted to know where he was and were concerned he was hurt.

Once you can do that you can try a place or two that is new to you and work up from there. Decide what you are going to do if confronted with more than needing to say “he/she is a service dog”.

You may feel best just leaving. For me I will debate it and let them know they are breaking the law. That is my personality and I am comfortable doing it. I will never get into a fight over it, but will discuss it. It it become heated at all, I will leave and file a complaint with the Department of Justice.

Hope this helps.

34 Tamara Jessup 10.21.11 at 5:25 am

I live in California. While service dog trainers and owner-trainers have the same access rights with service dogs-in-training as service dog teams do, the dog must have a tag issued by County Animal Control. Although the only condition the law stipulates is that applicants must sign an affidavit saying that they understand that misrepresenting a dog as a service dog or service dog-in-training is a crime, San Diego County Department of Animal Services’ application requires applicants to state not only whether the dog is or is to be trained as a guide, signal (hearing) or service dog, but specify what tasks the dog has been or will be trained to perform. While the form asks applicants not to reveal medical information, I couldn’t for the life of me think of a way to describe what I intended to train my Psychiatric Service Dog-in-training to do that wouldn’t make the nature of my disability obvious. I also believe the application shouldn’t ask, as only gatekeepers, law enforcement, and judges have the right to know. So instead of filling out the form as directed, I wrote that doing so would violate my privacy and that it wasn’t legal. The employee to whom I returned it assured me that my filling it out that way wouldn’t affect the decision whether to issue the tag. She was wrong; my application was rejected and I was denied the tag. Now I must crawl back to Animal Services and reveal personal information I still believe they have no legal right to know to try to get the tag, because without it, I can’t take my dog anywhere but where pets are allowed. I just wonder if there’s any way I could describe what I’ll train him to do without the nature of my disability being obvious.

35 Yaz 11.23.11 at 2:16 am

BEV, I too have the assistance of a 3 pound Chihuahuh. I felt a smaller breed is best for me and my needs. I have him due to Autism, PTSD and other medical issues. I OFTEN get rude comments and constant laughts. It’s frustrating! Especially since I have difficulty communicating due to my Autism and I don’t care to be rude to others even when they are aggressively attacking me and my dog(verbally). I once had an older couple follow my mother, Vincent(my service dog) and I through a grocery store continuously harassing us about it, laughing. People don’t realize how smart these little dogs can be. And that they ate still a dog, no matter the breed. Also that not all disabilities are visible to the eye. My service dog is SO well behaved. He never ever barks. He Is very well trained. He is as quiet as he can be even when alerting me. But, people still harass. I wish I could tell you how to handle it, but I can’t seem to handle it right myself. However, I thought I should let you know that there is a web site that makes service dog vest small enough. Well, I had to alter mine a bit in the waist, but it fits perfectly. Hoping you see this… The website is -Yaz

36 Montana 12.22.11 at 7:22 pm

I have a dog that I’m training to become a therapy dog and she has a few classes to go I got her vest and id badge can she go into stores even now she is not all the way through the classes

37 Smilingator 12.26.11 at 12:37 pm

I feel some of the responses concerning how questions concerning the
validity of a Service Animal must be handled are misleading! The
Service Animals’ owner DOES NOT have to give the nature of their
disability nor the specific task that may be performed to ANYONE
requesting specific information regarding either of the two!! No one,
including a Hotel Manager or a Business Operator, has the right to
demand such information!! I certainly suggest a courteous response
but it is llegal for such information to be demanded and anyone who
persists in demanding it should be so advised in no uncertain terms!!

38 Rachel 01.01.12 at 2:49 pm

To Myra Elwell:

About your comment:

“I’ve never had a problem with him until I went to a local laundromat that is run by a Hispanic Immigrant.”

WHY did you feel the need to point out that this woman was a hispanic immigrant?? what in the hell does that have to do with anything?!
Here you are trying to discuss people who are prejudice about their views on so-called service-dogs and you are doing the same. Your comment was ignorant and racist. Shame on you!

39 Noshi 01.01.12 at 3:09 pm

Joshua, the MARINE…. lol you’re an asshole with deep insecurities.

Just because you went to war doesn’t give you the right to be a prick. That’s what happens when you go to war. What did you think, enlisting in the war was like going to Disney land. Stfu and stop being a bully and trashy dude.

40 amy snow 02.03.12 at 3:30 am

Although people with mental disabilities are covered by the Ada act., the federal laws regarding service animals only apply to those with physical disabilities. You should check your state/ local laws most recognize the importance if not necessity these animals aAre are to their owners, and inculde provisions for support dogs. Unfortunetly a dog who provides support to a PTSD sufferer is not covered by the federal law, furthermore claming the animal is an “alert dog” with the intention that he/she will assume the dog is a seizure alert dog, inorder to gain entrance to a facility where the dog would not otherwise be allowed, is illegal and could result in fines or other consequences.

41 amy snow 02.03.12 at 3:44 am

Please disregard my last comment. The term service animal was updated as of March 15 2011 to include dogs who support persons with mental disabilities.

42 Robin B 02.03.12 at 2:46 pm

To Montana,
A therapy dog has no access rights under the ADA law so they cannot go into all places as a Service Dog can. Therapy dogs are limited to their work area ie… hospitals, schools, librarys. Per the ADA, a service dog is a dog that is trained to do tasks for a disabled person, therapy dogs don’t do that. That is the difference..I think therapy dogs are great but they have no access rights. hope this answers your questions :)

43 mary cosetti 02.19.12 at 7:48 pm

Wow, I go though this kind of abuse as well! I was at a flea market and was told I had to carry my dog!! I explained that my 89 pound Doberman was my SERVICE DOG. ( He was sporting his RED TAG….and he is CERTIFIED!!) But he didnt care, he stated he had to call his boss on this one. Kept asking me for my CARD proving Baron was a service Dog!! I said I didnt need to show him that . All he needed to see was the red tag and that he was welcome to call it in for prove. I suffer from PTSD as well as physical disabilities. (These disabilities are not all visible to everyone.) It all upset me so badly that I threaten them with a law suit!!! That is when they backed off and let me finish a pleasant day at the flea market!
Baron is legal!! A service dog was prescribed to me!! I was the trainer! I rescued Baron from the local pound 6 years ago and started training him for my disabilities. I fall and he is trained to brace himself so I can use him to get back up. In the mental department I have had some trauma and just his size and looks keep people at a distance.
I do understand how people could use this service dog tag think way out of line … but look at it this way….. they must LOVE their pets an awful lot to want them with them at all times!!! That is so awesome since we have so many unwanted animals!!!! Yes, I agree they should be trained in obedience and be well behaved. An untrained animal could and would be a problem at some point!! I hope most of these service animals HAVE earned their RED TAG as Baron and so many others out there have. It takes a lot of training for a service animal to assist a person in their every day living. And remember ….there is a difference between a service animal and a pet.

44 maricruz 02.22.12 at 10:17 pm

how cam i make my do a service dog

45 Eric Johnson 02.27.12 at 9:22 am

Thanks so much for all of the great information! I do not have a disability (my girlfriend might disagree) :) but I take my pet dog with me EVERYWHERE!!! People are so intimidated by this great ADA Law that I seldom get questioned & if I do I just say that I have PTSD. But just in case PTSD isn’t covered (sounds like there’s some confusion/disagreement about that) I’ll start using “I’m an epileptic & my dog alerts me beforehand”. Thanks for all of the information & the great ADA laws we have! Only in America!!! It’s so easy because people are so afraid to mess with the ADA!!! Sincerely, Eric

46 Eric Johnson 02.27.12 at 9:32 am

Thanks so much for all of the great information! I do not have a disability (my girlfriend might disagree) :) but I take my pet dog with me EVERYWHERE!!! People are so intimidated by this great ADA Law that I seldom get questioned & if I do I just say that I have PTSD. But just in case PTSD isn’t covered (sounds like there’s some confusion/disagreement about that) I’ll start using “I’m an epileptic & my dog alerts me beforehand”. Thanks for all of the information & the great ADA laws we have!

47 DLP 02.29.12 at 1:59 pm

It it because of people like Eric Johnson that have NO disability that continually insist on bringing their dogs into grocery stores that make it bad for people that really need their dogs to get through life. What an ass get a life you are in violation of the law.

48 Lumi 03.02.12 at 8:46 am

I have been taking insulin for Type 1 Diabetes now for 27 years. Too many times I have gone unconscious, once while driving. I am now doing research to find a diabetic alert dog in California AND a Bichon Frise. I saw one site that offered Bichon Alert Dogs…but in Indiana at $16,000 cost. Does anyone know of where to find one (ideally in California. My life involves a lot of travel and would like a dog that can join me in the cabin. Plus, I have already had a Bichon and just adore them! Thank you~

49 Billie Wild 03.13.12 at 10:51 am

There is so much confusion about ESA and other Service Animals. PTS is a psychiatric condition, and an ESA is an appropriate – in fact the ONLY – solution for me. I don’t use drugs, I don’t need to. I can function if I have her with me, but not if I don’t. She is an ESA by definition at this time, but a Full Service Dog in what she does.

Since there is no law around training or certification, there is actually no difference. My doctors dx’d me with complex PTS in 1989 and it will never go away. I can drive safely with her, but as she is not a “trained” service animal (she couldn’t be anyway as there IS not formal training nor is any required) I still have her with me when I get to work. My employer and the families we serve (I am a psychotherapist) need to understand that she cannot be left in the car or anywhere else; she needs to be with me so I can a) work and b) drive home again afterwards!

This is a bizarre conundrum, but if I need her to be a contributing professional, she HAS to be allowed to remain with me during my employment hours so I can go to and from work. I don’t necessarily need to be on disability, as I can work if she is with me. It costs the country LESS to have me benefit from my Service Animal and go to work and pay taxes and provide a service to our communities than it would if I went on disability – which I could do if I wanted to with my history and diagnoses.

I consider myself fortunate to be able to work with this simple support of my Service Animal, a License Mental Health professional letter with my DSM – IV- TR diagnoses and the ADA and Fair Housing paperwork. Some people would love to be able to do what I can, but are unable.

Just my two cents :)
Good to meet you all. Thanks for being here.

50 LeiAnn 03.28.12 at 11:11 am

COSTCO employees are just plain rude. My service animal (who was wearing her green vest) was in the childs seat in their cart, encased in a blanketso she made no physical contact with the cart. I was “ordered” to remove “that animal” from the cart immediately. I was told I was inviolation of a health code having to do with food. I had no food in the cart, but was waiting for a prescription. She said other people had to use the cart for food and to take the animal and put it on the floor. I explained she was a service animal, who had to be close to me to provide the medical service she is trained for, and she was not touching the cart. The manager insisted I remove her at once. Here is the problem:
Hershey is fully licensed as a service alert animal. She has tags that says she is a service animal.
Hershey has a license that I carry at all times stating she is a service animal.
Hershey needs to be near me, preferably above my waist, as she need to detect the misfiring of my brain synapses. She will they alert me to take my medication to prevent a seizure. She cannot perform this service if she is on the ground.
While she can walk on a lead, she is not apt to follow instructions such as sit and stay, and is only 7 lbs and can get stepped on very easily.
Hershey’s biggest problem is this: SHE IS A CAT
Most cats have strollers or carriers (yes, I have both), but one cannot push a stoller and a grocery cart at the same time, and try juggling a purse, carrier and grocery cart at the same time if you are not allowed to put the carrier in the cart.
COSTCO is the ONLY store that has ever “harassed” me. Hershey has ridden, on her blanket, in the childs seat in Vons, Ralphs, Safeway, Albertsons, Foodland, and every clothing store I can think of. She has been to the malls, beaches, and people parks and no one says anything.
Here in El Cajon, San Diego, the Police Department is in charge of animal control. They licensed her. They require a letter from a doctor stating the animal performs a necessary medical service for you. Mine actually stated what that service was (I had no objection to this). They give you special tags and a license that states she is a service animal to prevent your being hassled, especially if your service animal is NOT a canine. And yes, you can buy the service jacket on e-bay, but you can’t buy the license or tags on the internet, so proving she is genuine is not a problem. Of course, no one buy COSTCO is going to ask you to prove if the animal is really a service animal. And yes, that is illegal. COSTCO employees really need more training when it comes to Service Animals. And they could use some manner too!

51 Justin 03.29.12 at 4:52 pm

I have Sam now registered with the City I live in California as a bonefied assistance dog. I took some convincing because my disabilities are not readily visible. However, I do wear one hearing aid in my right ear I wanted to add to PTSD to my disabled profile for the purpose the need for a service dog. I suffered a brain injury and have significant scaring on my head. I keep my head shaved to display the scares to keep the public from making doubting remarks regarding the need for a service dog.

52 johnE 04.17.12 at 9:11 pm

All I have read is how others are rude to you when you have your service dog with you. Well people are taking their none service dogs with them everywhere. You can complain all you want but they are the ones making it hard on you. People who ask are just following the law when it comes to these other people with non-SDs. It is against the law in many states for dogs(animals) to be allowed because of health violations. Instead of making it tough on the people doing their job why don’t you go easy on them. If I see a dog in an area where there is food and possible contamination issue you bet like hell I’m going to say something. The people who claim they have the right to take their non service dog into these establishments are wrong! Plain and simple. And yes there are cities that are now requiring people to have their dog licensed. It’s happening because of the law breakers. And I for one will uphold it. It’s not descrimination, it’s not because I do not like dogs. I am a SD trainer. I train for the blind. And I actually like it when people ask me about my dogs. It’s part of the job. I hate it when I and my dogs work so hard 24×7 and others abuse the system and make it hard for me to do my job! SO if I see you in an establishment and you do not have a SD I will confront you! Alot of you make up crap that your dog can do. Everyone thinks they have a Super Dog. I love my dogs to but they are trained professionals. They are not PETS! People who say they have a SD when they do not are ruining it for the people who actually need them. Whether you like it or not but eventually you will have to register your SD everywhere. So you better get it right. The fines are big!

53 Gerald 04.19.12 at 1:32 pm

So is it Ok to ask someone with a service dog what service they provide? I mean in a nice respectful way? I did this today and got jumped on by a guy with a service dog….. I totally was anticipating that he was going to say it was a cop dog or something along those lines, and I was going to say that’s really neat… but instead this asshole told me I was “rude for asking what his disability was and that I should have never said anything”. Well how the hell was I suppose to know the guy had a disability? He looked like the hulk. I thought he could have handled it a little better then trying to make a scene. Now I’ll totally look at people with service animals has mean, don’t ask, and don’t help them kind of people. Who needs a scene.

54 Sglick 08.23.12 at 4:35 pm

You’re all insane. It’s a dog. What is a dog going to do about a panic attack. I’m so sick and tired of people trying to act as if a simple animal is a magic cure-all to all of life’s little problems. Get a clue, get a life, grow up. Stop wasting the government’s time with your nonsense. The next thing you know, you’re all going to insist that dogs, cats and hamsters and goldfish be allowed to be with you 24/7 in restaurants, bars, movie theaters and anywhere else you feel your stupid animal needs to be (because you can’t just leave them at home or in the car as you shop). Well guess what, I don’t want to be around your dog. I don’t want to be licked by your dog. I don’t want your dog’s fleas. I don’t want your dog around me. Not everyone in the world has to love animals. Not everyone in the world thinks they’re automatically ‘cute and adorable’. Yet thanks to you all lobbying local governments that I guess can’t be bothered to deal with REAL ISSUES, you have been able to FORCE your nonsensical views on the rest of us.

55 Robin B 08.23.12 at 8:17 pm

Wow…haters going to hate! first of all the only animals allowed as service dogs are dogs, with a few mini horses as guides for the blind.
Service dogs don’t play with, lick or bother other people, they are trained not to. They also do not have fleas…they must be kept clean or they can be denied access. These are not PETS they are highly trained dogs, just like police dogs and search and rescue dogs are highly trained.

Your ignorance about the types of medical conditions people can have is very obvious. Some people have severe panic/anxiety episodes, that cause them to loose vision, become disorientated, loose balance etc..
and other types of disabilities are not always visible, RSD, MS, seizure disorders and more.. We don’t care if you don’t like our service dogs and we don’t approach you, so just stay away from us.. and hope you never become disabled.
Oh and if you are every trapped under rubble after an earthquake or get lost and need the help of a search and rescue dog for what every reason..if one finds you…just yell and tell them to go away because you don’t like dogs and you can just save yourself. I know all this is just wasted on a person like you because you are closed off and incapable of empathy.

56 Robin B 08.23.12 at 8:32 pm

To Gerald
I am sorry that you had a bad experience with a service dog team. That person may have been having a very bad day. Please do not feel offended if the handler does not fell like having a long conversation about their service dog, or won’t let you pet it. The handler may not be feeling well and just wants to get their errands done and go home to rest. Keep in mind that you are probably the fifth or twenty-fifth person to stop and ask them questions or if you can pet their service dog.
I try to answer questions about what my service dog does, she is a mobility dog, she picks up things that I drop, helps me with my balance, brings me things, gets my husband if I need help, opens doors, helps me do laundry, helps me undress, takes things from one person to another. alerts me to the phone ringing.
I don’t tell people what my medical condition is and I would not ask them what their medical issues are. I do not have a visible condition..not in a wheel chair…some of us are not. When I am having a very hard day and don’t feel like talking a just tell people so..I don’t yell.. please try to see things from the other point of view…hope you have a nice day :)

57 Debra 09.05.12 at 6:33 pm

Hi, I am a 30 year old woman with undiagnosed psychological and medical problems due to being unable to afford healthcare or see a doctor. If someone could help by sending me information about service dogs I would be greatful. My main two problems are, 1) I get severe dizzy spells that cause me to collapse unless I grab onto something and 2) I have panic attacks when I get too stressed out. I’ll start shaking crying and having trouble breathing. I’m not sure if these would qualify me or not.

58 Hotelworker 09.16.12 at 12:05 pm

I work at a hotel and DAILY get people saying they have a “service dog”. I know that the law prevents me from asking for papers (and even makes it where you don’t HAVE to have papers for your dog”, and if it were me who needed one, I would get mad if people asked why I needed a SD and I didnt wish to explain. I really wish the laws were more clear tho, as far as…if somebody needs a sign to park in a HK parking spot, somebody w/ a SD should have a sign or something (not one stating the reason…just one that says it truely is a SD). I hate questioning people that truely need one, but there are so many people in the hotel that are doing it just so they dont have to pay a fee. If the law were this way it would protect the individuals that need one more…while weeding out the people who are faking…because as a business, we have no way of knowing…unless you all can give some tips as far as this goes! :)

59 Elizabeth 09.17.12 at 6:23 pm

I have a SD her name is Annabelle. She is a Rottweiler, so you know instantly the kind of stuff I run into. I have her registered through our state vocational department. I carry the card in my wallet at all times. I use a bandanna since she is black and get easily over heated here in NC’s hot summers. I make sure she is tagged with ID/ Rabies/ and state ID (SD) tag. I don’t mind showing our proper ID’s to any store owner/managers. Some say I should mind that it violates my rights, but I work in a vets office and see people who say theirs are SD’s but when I ask about certification they give me the ADA’s statement, arguing that they don’t need proof. I worked and trained mine at home but had a trainer evaluate her, then worked her some more, then evaluated her again and at age 3 finally felt she was ready. I had the trainer work with her, then fill out my paper work certifying that she was ready and able to meet the requirements. Too many people are abusing this system and it makes it hard for the rest of us. Annabelle is a DAD (Diabetic Alert Dog) and is still learning other things (i’m hard of hearing), she is non stop learning. I just hate to see others make it hard and expensive to get a dog certified as SD. As of now in my state you can train your dog at home, preferably with a trainer, but not necessarily. Then you fill out the application and mail it in. It doesn’t cost you anything for the application or the procedure. Sure I guess you could have no trainer evaluation and possibly still get legally registered, but if you have nothing to hide do it the right way. Anyway, best of luck to you all.

60 jamicha 10.18.12 at 7:01 am

thank you so much for sharing your story. I have an alert dog as well, it really bothers me when people ask me what is wrong with me because they make me feel like i’m some sort of freak.

61 Suzanne Grundy 10.26.12 at 9:02 am

So glad to hear I’m not the only one who has run into the gamut of situations while out and about with my service dog!

Lilly is a 103 lb St. Bernard. I am a disabled vet with severe neurological issues that aren’t visible – even with the ever-present crutch-canes. Mostly, she helps me with balance… on/off, in/out, up/down. She assists me back up when I fall.

We’ve been all over and used all types of transportation. She flies in the cabin of planes with me… managing to fit in between economy seats on the floor just fine – although, if you’re sitting next to me, neither of us has any foot room. The airlines usually manage to put an empty seat next to me; she was a footrest, though, all the way from Honolulu, HI to Los Angeles, CA once. :)

To all the well-meaning folks out there – Robin B has it right. Sometimes, you are simply the 20th+ person that day to approach and ask questions… If I’m not exhausted, in a hurry, or emotionally done for, I’ll probably smile and give you some of my time. But remember, you just might be that 20th+ person :)

ADA allows asking: Is that a service animal? What tasks does it perform (related to one’s disability – which is NOT always obvious). I reply that Yes, Lilly is a service dog; she is mobility assistance. For those that don’t know/understand the law, I do carry a prescription (the full paperwork packet is rarely carried, except when we travel). That is usually enough. For the rude, ignorant people, I usually attempt to explain a few times, then leave and call management.

Thanks to all the posts… you made my morning.

Facebook: Lilly, The Saint Bernard Service Dog for pictures ;)

62 Janice 11.21.12 at 11:32 pm

I have a neighbor whose daughters and granddaughter live with her. They got a darling puppy and said it was a service dog for the daughter as she had breast cancer. But the dog stays with the granddaughter (not her mother) and doesn’t a service dog stay with the owner? Can I ask to see tags or where the dog was trained? They had a psych send a letter to the landlord (we live in a non-pet building). But I only see the dog with the granddaughter since it was a tiny pup. It appear they are putting over a fraud.

63 Rusty 11.24.12 at 10:19 am

This has been a good read.
Whenever some nosey,
inconsiderate, rude person quiries
me about my dog, I simply say; Why
Do you ask? Or she is my medical dog.
These replies most always shuts them

64 levy 11.24.12 at 11:13 am

I am disabled with bipolar paranoid skitso adhd homicidal pdsd epalepcy and I’m having problems with people about my alert animal

65 Courteney 12.04.12 at 12:39 am

I have a service dog that is 6 months old, kinda young, but she is like an adult when her service vest goes on. Her name is Emma. I had a stroke when I was almost six and was raped when I was five. I got a lot of rude comments like yours and I would like to say, kill them with kindness. I know it sounds like a hassle, but always keep positive. Something my mom always says is that most people don’t know what good a service dog is for emotional and physical support. I suffer from anxiety attacks where I almost stop breathing. That’s when she hops on me and presses her body against mine. It calms me down and makes me happy. Thank you for sharing. I thought I was being crazy thinking it was just me going through this.

66 Maria Eyles 12.05.12 at 3:09 am

Hi Sussie,
How I steam inside reading your story and plea, as I do several times a day out with my beautiful service dog.
First, your disability is your private business and privilege. Don’t ever feel the need to justify yourself! When people ask me, What kind of service dog is that? I smile sweetly and reply “Sorry–that is not public information!” If people pose their questions as demands, I ignore them or stare back saying nothing; or say, “Unless you are the manager or owner of this store, you don’t need to know. Excuse me.”

Mind you, Sussie, I am very shy too, but I have had to grow tougher skin because people’s egocentric rudeness seems to know no bounds anymore. [Please look up my article, "Your Next Hello Could Get You Arrested." It's on my blog and on Hubpages.]

Now let me speak about the general public: They need precisely NO information about your personal life. For nice people, I say now say medical alert instead of a walker dog, because then they ask too many questions about what a walker dog is. The truth is, my disabilities are invisible and one is similar to yours. “Medical alert” means virtually anything or nothing, so it is safest.

Regarding rude people, I give them a withering look and say as little as possible. I have decided to never answer questions hurled to my back or my side. If people confront me anyway, I retort, “The dog helps me with anger management, and you are making me late for my class.” (A great one, huh, though not actually true in my case.)

Also, when in a store, I stop and stare a moment then say, “Uh, do you mind if I conclude my business here before answering that?” If it gets or is worse I say, “Excuse me. You are interrupting me.” Usually they back off—though many even have the gall to tell me how rude I am! Yikes….But the point is, they aren’t treating me as a person but as an informational kiosk to satisfy their curiosity. Uh-uh. Not nice. So my little remarks are designed to let them see that I am really a living, breathing person they have not acknowledged.

My dog is very beautiful (I hadn’t planned on that!) so people even scream these questions across the street or jump out of moving cars to ask me about his breed. (He’s actually a poodle hybrid.) “What kind of dog is ThaaaaaaT?” Drives me insane only because I hear it dozens of times of a day–I live in a tourist town. So one day I yelled back across the street, “Oh, he’s a Polite Dog who would never shout across the street!” And I smiled my simpering smile. One time at the same spot, an old guy screamed out of his car “W’KINDA DOGZAT?” Over and over. He threatened to run us over practically! I told him quickly (so he couldn’t understand) and added, “Hey, what kind of car is that? Is that your first wife there? Hey where’d ya buy that car anyway? How many kids you got?” He was in such disbelief that he drove off in a huff, face red, and shouted back: “Boy! You are NOSY–and Rude!!” Yeah, Pops…went right over your head, didn’t it. (I actually had to laugh…).

But of course, as well you know Sussie, you have to be careful whom you antagonize. Last night in a store some creepy guy, a customer young enough to be a danger, followed me around the store and told me not to bring a dog in a store, the dog was a fake, I was a fake, etc. I fended him off once but then called the manager over and said loudly to the creep, “You, sir, are harassing me and my service dog!” It worked nicely because the whole store knows us to be genuine and loves my dog. The guy skedaddled–but I asked for help out to my car to be safe.
You know, in most states, you can call the cops on something like that because it is harassment. Don’t be afraid. In several states, that kind of thing is a misdemeanor called “interfering with the duties of a service dog”! Again, please see my article.
In California, our service dogs wear a special county license. Raffy always has his on. Bottom line–if a store or public place rejects you and your dog, report them to the Department of Justice, ADA division in your state or area. They don’t fool around. My biggest coupe (again, I’d rather this NOT happen but…) was turning on one city’s police force to DOJ for not defending my rights to a service dog in a hair salon. That police force was ordered to educate themselves–and they did. Yay for service dogs and their handlers!
Unfortunately, it comes down to our carrying the burden of educating the public. Despite my sometime deviltry described above, I most of the time DO try to be an ambassador for service dog teams everywhere—as you and others have stated—especially to children, who are wonderful and deserve our time, patience and kind teaching in these matters.
Hopes this helps. God bless you! Maria

67 DJ 12.05.12 at 6:35 am

I have been federally disabled going on 20 years. On occasion people have asked why I have a disabled plack, my reply has always been that I am federally disabled and that the ADA protects my rights and disallows them from inquiring as to my disability. My first service dog arrives this weekend. I have an extremely rare genetic condition that no one would have heard of that is progressively worsening. The official service will be to alert me to drops in blood sugar before I pass out. Due to increasing weakness and severe pain my dr thought it best that my service dog be small. Thank you for your stories, it helps to know what to expect. I am filled with optimism about the benefits, I have passed out twice while driving and recently suffered a horrible injury due to passing out on a cement sidewalk. I’m told the notification can be up to 2 hours in advance! Very excited to meet my new partner and move onto a new improved point in my life!

68 Mandi 01.15.13 at 6:30 am

I know this article is a lil old but I wanted to share what happened to me the other day while in the grocery. My dog and I were minding our own business shopping with my husband, 16 yr old daughter and her friend when this man, who was well dressed in a business suit, runs up to me and says “I want you to know that *I* raise guide dogs and people like you make me sick! Faking this like that! How dare you!” I said to him ” well first of all clearly my Corgi isn’t a guide dog and secondly she is a medical alert dog. And she is, in fact, a real service dog.” He said “STOP LYING YOU KNOW THAT ISN’T TRUE!!!! YOU MAKE ME SICK!!!!” Then he ran off before I could say anything else. It left me shaking and nearly to the point of passing out! I had to go to the restroom, Medicare myself and try to calm down a bit. It was terrifying! Apparently to this man there was only ONE type of service dog and those guide dogs could only be raised by him or a “professional” guide dog agency? I don’t know? But my dog is now 5yrs old, has had hours and hours, months and now years of training and I’ve spent nearly 20,000$ doing it so it was done right and by people who knew what they were doing! This man knew NOTHING about me yet assumed everything and I believe it was simply all over her Web Master Ruff Wear vest that she wears! Because it had no Organization insignia she MUST be a “fake SD!” The very same trip I was complemented, as I always am when we’re out, how well behaved she is. People say “I wish MY dog was this good!” Your dog WOULD BE with THIS MUCH intensive training! I will NEVER understand this man and why he would raise guide dogs and not see a need for other types of service dogs. Nor how he just automatically assumed he KNEW ANYTHING about me or my little service dog! She may NOT be a Golden or a Lab but she works just as hard and means the world to me because she gives me independence! I hope one day this man learns more about SDs, that there is more than one type, and that it really doesn’t matter what vest they wear or even that they wear a vest at all! Just that they are actually trained to do a job and that they know how to behave in public!

69 Cecilia 01.28.13 at 11:28 pm

I have a 178lb Great Dane for a service dog. I have narcolepsy with severe cataplexy and he helps with my balance and getting back up if I fall. He stands behind me in lines so people cannot get close enough to startle me and make me fall. He is also trained to alert me to when a sleep attack is coming on so I can sit down.

There have been places that tell me I cannot bring my service dog into their establishment (he wears a vest now after a serious altercation with a manager at a Target store) and I ask them if they require paraplegic customers to leave their wheelchairs outside in order for them to use their establishment. This usually shuts them up.

A year ago, my medical clinic refused to allow me to see my doctor unless I could provide written proof that he was a service dog. I went through a professional service dog trainer but did not have any paperwork with me at the time. The clinic manager insisted. So I called my trainer who proceeded to chew the manager out. I filed a complaint with my state’s Human Rights Commission and the clinic was forced to modify their service animal policy to match federal laws, pay me a sum of money, pay a local therapy/service dog organization an equal sum of money and write me a letter of apology.

When people say “you don’t look disabled” I respond with “you don’t look ignorant but not everything is visible.”

You wouldn’t believe how gaga people get when they see a giant, steel grey dog. I swear, my dog is a local celebrity! I don’t mind except people tend to stop me in my shopping to ask me 20 questions about my dog. I find an hour long shopping trip now takes two or even three hours.

I’ve become more bold in my reaction by just ignoring people if I don’t want to talk to them. Or I will look at them and say “I’m trying to shop here.” Who cares if they think I’m rude? After all, isn’t their “me, me” attitude rude as well? I’m not an exhibit, nor an information booth, nor am I there just for their curiosity or entertainment and I’m really just too tired to deal with it half the time.

70 Cecilia 01.28.13 at 11:33 pm

Another quote that I particularly like is:

Light travels many, many times faster than sound. This explains why some people appear bright, until they open their mouth.

That confounds some of them!

71 Chris Hladky 02.18.13 at 12:01 pm

I am not concerned that people ask questions about my service dog. She is a tiny toy poodle wt. 6 lbs. But in the 6 lbs packs a life saving training. She is trained to help me with my low blood sugars. I am often alone and her training lets me know my blood sugar is low and I need to start taking care of myself before it becomes critical. I am not ashamed of her size or training but I am proud of her for what she does to help me. Most people are not accusing, they are interested because of the new training dogs can help with. As a retired paramedic I know how people with non visible medical conditions need help before EMS arrives. I feel when I explain what she does and the training she has and is going through I am educating the public. Most of the public is not being rude or accusing just interested. I also use a double pouch on my lead that can carry certain info on my dog and on my condition, In an emergency EMS, hospital ER does need certain information so they can treat your medical condition and to protect your service dog. Instead of a handler being RUDE to the public use them to educate and inform and possibly help you in an emergency. You do not have to give your life history or your private information but a little kindness goes a long way. If you do not want someone to pet your animal just give a polite short reason and continue with a short educational explanation. I live in a moderately medium size town and see the same people often in different business so why should I want to alienate these people who only are concerned for you in their own way. They may one day need to call for help for you.

72 michele 02.20.13 at 4:09 pm

I agree that people should not ask in a rude way about the service animal, but folks must understand there are alot of scammers out there. I work in a hotel that is not pet friendly. Service animals are the exception. Way too many people lie and bring thier pets in saying they are service animals.

73 Ashley 02.21.13 at 2:18 am

I have so much to say that I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, for those who are so terribly concerned about “fakers,” I have this to say: I don’t think it’s right that people fake, either. It is too bad because it makes it difficult for people like me to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, as a society, we should error on the side of caution. I say this because with my psychiatric issues, having an possible panic attack while being confronted about my dog is actually MORE terrifying than going into public WITHOUT my dog. The ignorance of these “haters” actually contradicts my very reason for needing a service animal. That is not right. I have more issues than a panic disorder, but this is one example.

For those worried about health codes: my father-in-law is a Ph.D. in microbiology. He informed me that humans cannot get sick from dogs. In fact, most food poisoning comes from the staph bacteria of another human’s hangnail.

I get that there are fakers but seriously, if a dog is behaving, what do any of you care? In Europe, people bring their PETS with them to restaurants and as far as I know, the sky hasn’t fallen there just yet.

To people who hate animals: If you don’t like animals, fine. Don’t approach someone with a dog. I’d prefer you didn’t because it makes me uneasy, anyway. You don’t like my dog and I don’t like you so if you stay back, neither one of us has any reason to worry. It really is THAT simple.

In an economy where the unemployment hasn’t been this high since the great depression, people are being kicked out into the streets and children are going to bed hungry, I really don’t understand why some people make it their life’s mission to “spot the fake service dogs.” No offense, but get a life. Those of you with this mindset are acting like a bunch of children. “You are lying! I’m going to tell the teacher!” Give me a break. You’re causing more problems for the disabled than the “fakers” are.

74 Ashley 02.21.13 at 2:23 am


To the person who called one of the commenters here a “racist.”

I believe the country of origin of the person she was describing was relevant to her story because she was explaining to us that not only was the person uninformed about our laws, the person also did not read our national language, which barrier added more stress to the situation.

Observing someone’s race is not being racist. Race should not be ignored as you seem to think it should be – it should be acknowledged and celebrated because we can be enriched by one another’s differences. If you think this person was being racist, then you have misinterpreted the meaning of diversity.

Anyway, back to the service animal discussion…

75 Jenna 02.26.13 at 7:45 am


I could order a vest and ID tag off of any registry in two seconds. Anyone can. They do not need to certified to get it. Therefore, a lot of fakes can wear vest. Remember that.

If you want to tell the difference between a fake service dog and a real one, just watch it. You will tell instantly. However, this does not give you the right to kick someone out just because you think they are fake. Why? Because they most likely have a REAL disorder, such as socially anxiety disorder or PTSD and you could of just sent them back to the house for another year, because now they are too afraid to come outside, since they think what you did to them will happen again. Heck, some of them might of even been suicidal that you just insulted. Nice job.

If the dogs misbehave, then you can politely ask them to leave. There. You just solved the problem. The fake dog will usually misbehave. My dog will sit beside me.

When people come up and rudely interrogate me about my dog, I nearly have a heart attack. Also, not all disabilities are visible.

I have had adults CURSE ME out as teenager in the parking lot for having my service dog, not even asking, just right away screaming and cursing. I was the politest teenager you could ever meet, and I did nothing to provoke any attack. But people could of been so mean because I didn’t have a jacket on him. Also, not all areas have service dog evaluators. My dog I have obedience titles on, CGC and a registered therapy dog, but that is the best I can get for my area. I do not want to pay 50 bucks to a scam registry just to make these uneducated people happy.

Also, I’m young. I don’t want to advertise to the world that I need a psychiatric dog. It is embarrassing for me and actually makes it hard for me to talk to people. I don’t want people judging me based on it, and they often will if they know. I have been bullied and teased because of it in the past.

I just wanted to tell that for some of these business people who come on here and do not understand.

76 S.C. 03.05.13 at 8:17 pm

I am visually impaired, and have a Service Animal,canine, yellow lab. We both are”Fully documented and credentialed”Scarf,vest too.
When applying for an apartment, which I was approved for, I mentioned I had a service animal. You know the rest…..”We do not allow dogs”…3 women, standing in the office, raising their voices about no exceptions. No Dogs. When one asked me ” What is it for” ? It? I asked? Yes, the dog..I knew I couldn’t live there, I didn’t want to. I replied……”If you would like, we can all sit down together, and you can tell me all of your medical history, and I would as well.” They gave me a blank stare with tilted heads. I left them with an ADA card, and let them know they really need to become educated, because they had just broken the law. I have used the…..lets talk about your medical history first….comment when pushed about YOUR DOG can’t be in here, why is “The Dog” here , it helps.

77 Dani 03.30.13 at 6:01 pm

This is true, even with an obvious disability people still choose to remain ignorant. I myself am also a guide dog user. Anytime someone tells me, well you don’t look blind, of course I tell them well you don’t look retarded but you sure as hell soundest. That usually gets them to go away. For anyone who would like to push it a little further I am more than happy to tell them where to go and give them directions. It seems to me that nowadays people do not take a polite response seriously so the only way to get the message across is to tell them to f Off! Yes I would also like to say the same to the racist comment. I don’t think mentioning the woman’s race was meant as a prejudice action. Actually I think that her being from a different country of course they have different rules over there. Some people need to realize that not all countries have rules to protect service dogs, so clearly she was ignorant and did not understand that the United States does have rules to protect service dogs. For all those people who don’t like dogs, as someone already pointed out that’s fine we don’t like you either! You know so there is no need to come up to us and harass us about our service animals. Here is a simple solution to that. You mind your business and we might our business. Is that too much to ask! That’s okay you don’t like dogs, I prefer that people do not come near my guide dog. For all I know I do not have any clue as to how filthy your hands Might be! So once again, if it is a real service dog and you do not like animals, then just mind your business and go about your day. No one really gives a crap about your opinion anyway. There is really no need to approach someone and bother them about it. We aren’t going to purposefully approach you and have you constantly touching and bothering our dogs. So you do not need to come up to us in a store and give us your opinion, because as I already stated I don’t care. I am pretty sure that other people can agree to that. As I said I don’t care and I’m sure other service dog users do not care either. We are not shopping and grocery stores with our dog to hear your opinion, we are shopping to get the things that we need! Anytime someone does come up to me to complain about my dog I just tell them to shut the f Up and mind their own business!

78 Carol Jean Vogelman 05.18.13 at 12:43 pm

TOP DOG is an excellent program to self train your service dog, and I did very well with it! You cannot have a PSD trained by anyone else; my dog is impeccable; she has been with me since a puppy! What alarms me is checking into a motel only to find they
are I’m blind ignorance of the laws! You are exhausted and now looking for another room! Perhaps to run public lodgings managers need to attend seminars about client relations in general!

79 Dave and Gracie 07.21.13 at 1:38 pm

Hi Sussie,

I happened upon your Service Dog Blog more than 2 1/2 years ago. My Service Dog, Gracie, and I have been together for more than five years. Thank you for the legal information and this forum for those of us with disabilities who rely on our Service Dogs for assistance on a daily basis.
There are still many ignorant and dispassionate people around…Our dogs more than make up for these idiots!
Thanks for your help!!

80 michele 07.22.13 at 10:57 pm

i have 3 yr old english bulldog..i never thought to use him..but shortly after we got him. i noticed him staying vlose to me.pushing against me and being right there close when i lost balance and fallen..then he will stiff up and helps me to get off the he did alot of this on his own..all i did was reenforce his insticts already there..i have psoratic arthrites and balance is way off.and i stumble and fall alot..before blue do u know how many times i was in the floor and strangers and employees never helped..eventually blue wont be enough and will need a taller dog but for now i can get off floor and bend over and he braces me so i dont fall head first into shelves..but recently he wasnt allowed to ho in somewhere and found out that stste has a pervision that states..they can not allow servive dog if you dont have certivicate..which is against federal law to even ask for one..any ideas what i do to avoid big ordeal next time?

81 Sussie Due 07.23.13 at 10:45 am

There is no such thing as a certificate. The ADA states the following…

ADA will not impose any type of formal training requirements, registration or certification process. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this position, the Department has determined that such a modification would not serve the full array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals, since individuals with disabilities may be capable of training, and some have trained, their service animal to perform tasks or do work to accommodate their disability. A training, registration or certification requirement would increase the expense of acquiring a service animal and might limit access to service animals. Especially for individuals with limited financial resources.

82 Aly Maynard 07.31.13 at 10:43 am

Hi. My name is aly. I have an sd that helps me with ballance issues and bipolar.I have 2 questions that I am seeking answers to.I currently do nnot have a ballance and mobillity bar for my sd. I contacted my dr to see if she could perscribe me one bc I have medical insurance. Is that possible to be perscribed one? Or do I have to spend hundred of dollars that I do not have? Also I have nit taken my sd out in public bc im afraid I will get rude comments… I have severe anxiety issues due to my bipolar. I would love some advice on how tp deal with Iignorant ppl and how to deal with fakera too. You can message me on my yahoo or at(330) 988-3975. Thank you.
Aly and Rex

83 Glinda Penney 08.27.13 at 4:00 pm

I have been diagnosed with PTSD for 10+ years. I have a trained service dog. My employer is demanding I bring proof of his training. Can she demand this? Or is my statement that he is trained all that is required. How do I prove he was trained. I have no training certificate or documentation. I trained him myself with the advice of 2 different dog trainers who I am out of contact with since this was about 10 years ago

84 Sussie Due 08.29.13 at 9:34 am

ADA states the following…

ADA will not impose any type of formal training requirements, registration or certification process. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this position, the Department has determined that such a modification would not serve the full array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals, since individuals with disabilities may be capable of training, and some have trained, their service animal to perform tasks or do work to accommodate their disability. A training, registration or certification requirement would increase the expense of acquiring a service animal and might limit access to service animals. Especially for individuals with limited financial resources.

85 Bill Christensen 09.03.13 at 7:02 pm

Over the past 3~4yrs. I have noticed an increase in (Service Animals) at the entrance to our restaurant. Legit? Who knows. I have a dog and I can’t bring her to the restaurant. I recognize service animals and how important they are. The restaurant has a deck and people wan’t thier animals with them (not in the car). Still, “my service duck”. Yes,
a duck in a box. No ! I said. Small 5lbs. “Lap~Dog” or a “purse~dog”.
I kid you (not) “service ~parrot”. I have seen it all. It seems that any
state that requires a dog permit and certificat of vac. etc., should also certfiy a service medallion or tag for the particular animal. We all know that “non dissabled” drivers use a dissability plackard for better parking and other privlages. The drivers and doctors that issue them do a diss~service to those that really need this privlage. This is the same with “non service animals”. The people that need thier animal in a restaurant or bar or public place inorder to socially function, take this privlage to a new level. Thier “service pooch” eventually ends up on the table or on the bar. Yes, ON the bar. I have asked the people to
remove thier animal. Once you let the animal in, you have acknowledged (there is a dissability or this person needs the animal). Now, ask them to leave… sets up any buisness for a possible suit or worse , a sceen infront of customers.

86 Sussie Due 09.05.13 at 10:21 am

Keep in mind that, as of March 15th, 2011, ONLY dogs and miniature horses are recognized as service animals. So if your customer is bringing anything in other that those two species, you have the right to ask them to leave.

87 cheryl 10.08.13 at 12:12 pm

Hello! This is all new to me. I also have a support dog and I’m learning a lot but I have one question and maybe you or someone can answer it. It is so frustrating to me because I’m trying to rent a place and the first words out of there mouths are do you have any pets! So, I’m wondering do you have to tell them yes. Or tell them when you meet to fill the application out? Help lol

88 Sussie Due 10.09.13 at 10:48 am

Sorry. But an Emotional Support Animal is not a service dog and is not recognized by the ADA.

89 Sam 10.29.13 at 8:00 pm

There is another federal law/act that covers Emotional Support Animals. I can’t remember the name off the top of my head. It provides only for the abilities to fly with the animal in the cabin and have the animal in no-pets housing, like the ADA. However, ESAs are not allowed any of the other access that the ADA protects.

90 Sussie Due 10.30.13 at 11:28 am

That is correct. ESA’s are only covered by the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act. They are not recognized by ADA laws.

91 Randal Blair 12.21.13 at 2:43 am

I have a SD for my PTSD which can trigger migraines and even occasional seizures. My dog is not one if the most common breeds the public expects a service dog to be. She is an American Pit Bull Terrier. I am lucky enough to live in an area that is very dog friendly to begin with and to service dogs in particular. I don’t get questioned or challenged very often. Once in awhile someone does challenge me or demand to know my disability. I explain to them they may only ask what task my dog can perform for me. If I explain it, they de facto would know my disability. If they really push me I usually say something like “She is trained to calm me down when I am about to go into a violent rage and and keeps me from attacking people and smashing things.” They are usually pretty welcoming to her after that.

I do have a question. What exactly are our rights if a store owner just refuses to let us in? I showed him a card I carry that states the applicable laws and he says he doesn’t give a crap. Not that I want to give him any business after that, but do we have any legal recourse? I know of cases where people confined to wheelchairs have been able to sue places that do provide ADA compatible ramps, etc.

92 Sussie Due 12.26.13 at 5:52 pm

That is when you file a formal complaint with the ADA.

93 Angela F. 05.07.14 at 10:30 pm

We have a beagle/dachshund mix who is a service dog in training. She’s only six months old, but extremely good at what she does. She double functions for myself and my daughter. I deal with anxiety/panic attacks, and my daughter is Autistic. We take Jetta with us everywhere we go, and the only trouble thus far has been people suffering from cuteness overload and wanting to pet/snuggle her. Any time we go into a store, business, etc. where we are not known, I immediately head to customer service, ask to speak to a manager or supervisor, and say “I just wanted to let you know that today you have a service dog in training in your store. If you hear a little bark, don’t be alarmed. Princess Jetta is still learning how to behave herself in certain social settings and is undergoing intensive training. Thank you so much for allowing us to train her in your store as well!” Never an issue!

94 Stacy 05.08.14 at 10:43 pm

To answer your question, it depends on the situation.
First of all, always bring something to write on (paper and pen). If someone is rude, simply tell them that they have the backpack on. If they were trained by a company, you may want to ask them what to ask.
Personally, I explained to kids how Clover would tell me before I would get sick and be there like their mom is (she was my seizure dog).
Companies are another story. Write down names. If someone is being stupid, be nice and ask if you can speak to their supervisor and explain what happened. Write down names, time, date… If the supervisor doesn’t or won’t help, the more info you have helps (this scares them if you ask how to spell names). But keep going with it if you can’t fix something….: remember that you are trying to fix this for someone else, and try your best to be nice.

95 Miranda Bancroft 05.24.14 at 5:43 pm

I have had “Murphy,” my Golden Retriever Service Dog for 11 years. I have a neuromuscular disease, I’m in/out if a wheelchair or I need braces to ambulate. I trained Murphy 11 years ago, when my disease had not yet affected pay legs. As a rule: when I don’t feel well, I don’t leave the house. Therefore, the only time people see Murphy with me was when I was doing well. Consequently, most comments are and have been, “are you training him?” I will generally always take the time to explain. But if I am in a hurry, or if they at rude… goes like this:
SPACE INVADER: “Hi, nice dog. Are you training him?”
ME: “No, he’s 11, he has been trained and he’s been working for the past 10+ years.”
SPACE INVADER: “what do you need him for?”
Oh no, you didn’t? You did!!!!!
ME: “I’m color-blind. He barks when the lights turn green so I know when to proceed through the intersection.

I am going to prepare a tri-fold education pamphlet. We have a five month old golden retriever puppy, who he will be replacing Murphy in about 12 months. It is so hard to go anywhere with Beau. It’s always a crowd of request to pet the puppy. I don’t want to be rude but it is obnoxious when you can’t get through your grocery list b/c everyone wants to tell me about their dog stories.

96 Jolene 10.09.14 at 9:38 pm

Remember, it’s when there’s behavior that’s obviously causing you distress, that they know you don’t want, but continue with
it anyway that really puts them into the stalker category.
A Cancer man needs an obedient lady that he will provide for,
not one that he will compete against. Little bit newer from
1971, Spider-Man 2099 came to print in ’92.

97 Latisha 10.13.14 at 4:28 pm

Hi there friends, its fantastic piece of writing about teachingand
fully explained, keep it up all the time.

98 Jonathan 10.14.14 at 3:10 pm

I am a business manager. I have seen a lot of service dogs that you can tell they are. Well behaved and will listen to every command. Even lay in one spot for over 2 hours. But there has been people bring dogs into the restaurant and claim its a sevice dog but when they have a seat, they feed it out of their hands, sit them in chairs, even push them in on strollers. Personally I do not believe these are service animals, but with the 2 things I’m allowed to ask, I’ll never know. I don’t buy a shitzu eating from its owners hands and sitting in a chair at a table is a sevice dog. And it’s these people that will eventually ruin it for all. Its better to put a law for verifiable certification than to see abolishing the disability act all together.

99 Sue 10.15.14 at 12:12 pm

Service dog should not be fed at the table in a restaurant. However, there is no law that states that they cannot be in a stroller. Most people have them in strollers for the safety of the dog and to keep people are trying to steal them or pet them. People have no respect for working service dogs and will try to pet them anyway because they are small and cute. I run into that all the time with my service dog. However my service dog will back away if someone tries to pet him unless I give the release command.

100 Kristin 03.30.15 at 8:22 pm

I am so glad you shared your story so that I know I am not alone in this issue. I also have a service dog (his name is Gronk) and he is a psychiatric service dog like Gunny. I do not have PTSD but I do have what my therapist says is severe social anxiety that causes me to have panic attacks. Gronk stands between me and strangers, stays behind me when my back is turned so I cannot be snuck up on, and brings me out of a panic attack. I have also had alot of people ask me if he is a real service dog or a pet. I have people walk up to him and try to pet him ( as you know that goes against what he is trained for) or they ask me why I have him and there sure are quite a few that are not happy with a simple explanation such as ,he is an alert dog, he is trained for a disability and they keep poking questions at me. I have honestly been very surprised my this I honestly would have never thought to ask someone why they had ask service dog let alone ask for specific details. I don’t feel that I should have to explain to the world that I have anxiety and you are exactly right about saying psychiatric service dog, people look at you like you escaped lock up or something. I truly don’t feel it is any bodies business but I do tend to want to be somewhat polite.

101 Rebecca Rahn 05.08.15 at 11:10 pm

I have a letter from my doctor for my apartment building stating that I need a service dog. My landlord of government housing says I can not have a dog over 20 pounds. Can I owner train a dog for a service dog and be allowed to have the dog with me in my apartment with me? A guy came in to apply for an apartment with a service dog that is a rott. And was told that the dog would be allowed. I have been told you can owner train your own service dogs but would my apartment place have to allow me to have the dog that would be over 20 pounds live with me?

102 Sue 05.11.15 at 9:34 am

Service Dogs do not fall under breed bans or weight limits.

As far as the training. The ADA states the following…

ADA will not impose any type of formal training requirements, registration or certification process. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this position, the Department has determined that such a modification would not serve the full array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals, since individuals with disabilities may be capable of training, and some have trained, their service animal to perform tasks or do work to accommodate their disability. A training, registration or certification requirement would increase the expense of acquiring a service animal and might limit access to service animals. Especially for individuals with limited financial resources.

103 Kathi Rohde 06.11.15 at 9:36 am

I have a mini pin that is a “natural” diabetic alert dog. Actually she knew it before I did. Someone had to tell me what she was trying to tell me. Since then she has alerted me on numerous occasions that could have been severe if not fatal. I generally don’t even try to take her with me, I simply stay home because of the hype and controversy make it such a hassle. The upside is I don’t have to prove she is certified, which she is not, but the downside is I am, for all rights and purposes, housebound.

104 Steven Z 06.22.15 at 3:42 pm

I went thru the same thing, sorta of. Among other things, I deal with PTS (used to be called PRSD) and confrontation can set me off. And that is what Sabaca alerts on.
After learning the law and getting familiar with what I would answer if asked (Questioned In a Hostile manner) I started out of the house and back into the world.
A few minor run-ins with those not in the know of the law, or who wrote their own law to quote to me. Being informed stopped this.
The very biggest change when I got a photo I D as service dog for Sabaca. Showing that has stopped 99% of the problem.
Now I do not fear to go out and what might happen if I do.
And because Sabaca alerts on me if I get upset, I can chose to let ppl greet and pet her. As I allow that I teach about service dogs in general. Haha ha at almost 70 I am not as shy as I used to be thanks to getting out with Sabaca. Grocery shopping, Barber shop, restaurants, fast food, whatever doesn’t bother her. Most places I go they know her name but not mine. She is a very friendly black standard poodle.
Now how do I answer The Question most want to know. Why do I have a service dog and what does she do for me?
Depending on how asked I will be nice or not. I just usually say she is medical alert dog. That covers every thing without saying what or how in a friendly neutral manner.
Just a matter of doin it. Then it stops mattering.

105 DAK 01.16.16 at 8:26 pm

I was attacked by a rottweiler years ago. I was in my own yard feeding my horses and he came out of nowhere and jumped on me knocking me to the ground going for my throat. The dog weighed 22 pounds more than I did but somehow I managed to stop him from ripping my throat open and killing me. He nearly tore my thumb off and did severe Nerve damage to my arm. I still carry the scars, remember the smell of his saliva mixed with my own blood as he ripped on me. I know the good Lord was watching out for me that day. After an ambulance ride to the hospital, my plastic surgeon telling me it was a miracle that I survived and doctors and therapy diagnosing me with PTSD I do not have a service dog for my PTSD because a dog is what caused my problem and I am terrified and have panic attacks when I see one. The problem is I have my own business a small store and hotel rooms and live on the property. This is my home and I will probably be getting out of the business because I can not have my own rules because I have a panic attack every time someone brings there dogs in and of course even if they are not they say they are service dogs. The law is sad like so many others because it is not defined well enough and you are afraid of a fine and losing it all. It hurts the small business people the most because most of my customers will leave when someone comes in with their dog. We have a Hypoallergenic hotel for people who do not like a smoke or pet filled order in their rooms or pet hair. This will probably close soon because of the abuse from people. Their are two sides to every story and when I can’t even have a business or work in a store because everybody has to bring their pets in and I have a panic attack because you can’t leave them at home and I can’t make a living for my family, how is that fair?!

106 Sue 01.20.16 at 4:32 pm

How is that fair to be prejudice against the disabled. I was attacked and put into the hospital by a Pit Bull many years ago. I have PTSD but what do I use to control it with? A Service dog.

107 Kathkeen 03.09.16 at 6:41 pm

I have never had any rude people as of yet. Every one is glad just to pet her. She also helps me connect with other people. That I don’t get too often also. Before my dogwas a service dog I would take her with me to places that allowed her. And only one person made a rude comment. Something about dogs in a store I just ignored her looked up my baby and said to her she must not like dogs. I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t go anywhere without Sofia my Servic Dog. Someone told me they think I have PTSD on top of bipolar because of what happened to me at school in the treatment my principal my boss was treating me and everybody else. And she lives in the same town that I do.I have also become a recluse and she brings me together with people. She makes me happy and calm and she brightens other people’s day which makes mine even better

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