A word from your Service Dog Blog Moderator

by Sue on May 11, 2011

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Yesterday I received yet another call from someone distraught. It was over the fact that they had sent money in to a Service Dog registry and received nothing in return. I really feel sorry for people that get “roped” into that situation. I am also angered by the so called “registries” that dupe people of their money like that.

ADA does not require a Service Dog to be registered. ADA does not require that a dog be trained by a professional. ADA’s only requirement is that the dog is well behaved in public, be identified in some way (either by vest or tags) that it is a Service Dog, and be on a leash unless the service that the animal performs requires it to be off leash.

Other things to keep in mind.

ADA rules override all state and local laws (In other words, if a city passed a rule stating that no animals were allowed in a certain area. ADA laws override that for service dogs). Business owners cannot post a sign stating “Guide Dogs Only”. Though it is not illegal for them to have the sign, they must allow ALL Service Dogs entry into their establishment.

Places open to the public (were anyone can just walk in or pay an entrance fee and walk in) cannot ask you what the Service Dog is for. However they can ask if it’s a Service Dog. Private places that are not open to the public or require a membership to enter, can ask you what duties the dog performs for you, but cannot stop you from entering. (The only exception to the rule is Costco, as they were giving special permission by the Courts as to whether they will allow you to enter their store with your Service Dog no matter what type of Service Dog it is, this was stated to me by a Costco rep. This is happened due to the case of Susan Grill vs. Costco in 2004).

Sussie and Gunny

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sutton & Suzie the Sugar Gliders 05.16.11 at 8:01 am

“II-1.4200 Other Federal and State laws. Title II does not disturb other Federal laws or any State laws that provide protection for individuals with disabilities at a level greater or equal to that provided by the ADA. It does, however, prevail over any conflicting State laws.”

2 Sutton & Suzie the Sugar Gliders 05.16.11 at 8:08 am

Also on May 11th they changed the Service Animal definition AGAIN!

3 Sutton & Suzie the Sugar Gliders 05.16.11 at 8:26 am

II-1.4000 Relationship to other laws

II-1.4100 Rehabilitation Act. Title II provides protections to individuals with disabilities that are at least equal to those provided by the nondiscrimination provisions of title V of the Rehabilitation Act. Title V includes such provisions as section 501, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in Federal employment; section 503, which addresses the employment practices of Federal contractors; and section 504, which covers all programs receiving Federal financial assistance and all the operations of Federal Executive agencies. Title II may not be interpreted to provide a lesser degree of protection to individuals with disabilities than is provided under these laws.

II-1.4200 Other Federal and State laws. Title II does not disturb other Federal laws or any State laws that provide protection for individuals with disabilities at a level greater or equal to that provided by the ADA. It does, however, prevail over any conflicting State laws.


Regulatory references: 28 CFR 35.104.

II-2.1000 General. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against any “qualified individual with a disability.” Whether a particular individual is protected by title II requires a careful analysis first, of whether an individual is an “individual with a disability,” and then whether that individual is “qualified.”

People commonly refer to disabilities or disabling conditions in a broad sense. For example, poverty or lack of education may impose real limitations on an individual’s opportunities. Likewise, being only five feet in height may prove to be an insurmountable barrier to an individual whose ambition is to play professional basketball. Although one might loosely characterize these conditions as “disabilities” in relation to the aspirations of the particular individual, the disabilities reached by title II are limited to those that meet the ADA’s legal definition — those that place substantial limitations on an individual’s major life activities.

Title II protects three categories of individuals with disabilities:

1) Individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;

2) Individuals who have a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited one or more of the individual’s major life activities; and

3) Individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment, whether they have the impairment or not.

II-2.2000 Physical or mental impairments. The first category of persons covered by the definition of an individual with a disability is restricted to those with “physical or mental impairments.” Physical impairments include –

1) Physiological disorders or conditions;

2) Cosmetic disfigurement; or

3) Anatomical loss

affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs (which would include speech organs that are not respiratory such as vocal cords, soft palate, tongue, etc.); respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine.

Specific examples of physical impairments include orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV disease (symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

Mental impairments include mental or psychological disorders, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

Simple physical characteristics such as the color of one’s eyes, hair, or skin; baldness; left-handedness; or age do not constitute physical impairments. Similarly, disadvantages attributable to environmental, cultural, or economic factors are not the type of impairments covered by title II. Moreover, the definition does not include common personality traits such as poor judgment or a quick temper, where these are not symptoms of a mental or psychological disorder.

Does title II prohibit discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation? No. The phrase “physical or mental impairment” does not include homosexuality or bisexuality.

4 Sandy 05.16.11 at 9:36 am

What is the scoop on Susan Grill vs. Costco in 2004). Can you post a link? or just give an overview.

5 Alice Bell 05.16.11 at 12:46 pm

Thank you Sussie ~~
In a previous blog you noted that Raspberry Fields will make dog vests for a fraction of the cost of others seen on the internet. I had sought one for my dog, but at a cost of $300 it was not going to happen!
I ordered one from Raspberry Fields, and at a cost of less than $50 including shipping, we have a very well made vest. It has made life much easier. In the past people tended not to notice the tag my dog wears, and constantly stopped me to visit and wanted to interact with my dog. I would not want to be rude, but at times it was down-right inconvenient especially when I was on a tight schedule. Now, with her new bright red vest, others are more considerate and tend to let us go about our business without needing to chat.

I hope others will follow up on the information you had provided, as it was well worth the small investment.

Thank you!!
Thank you!

6 Sutton & Suzie the Sugar Gliders 05.17.11 at 8:48 am

There is an updated new ADA Business Brief available for download and print on the ADA website. My name is linked to my SUGAR GLIDER SERVICE ANIMAL current ongoing case in N.C. if anyone cares to know about it…..

7 Sutton & Suzie the Sugar Gliders 05.17.11 at 8:52 am

Or it might be the USDOJ website I forget anyway GOOGLE it LOL

8 K9TrainerDeb 05.17.11 at 1:48 pm

I agree with SD User! After being out with my own SD to whom I use for mobility, and I have no problems educating people of what a true working SD does, I’ve encountered people with their “pocket pets” (any size) claiming that they are SD’s when they are not, due to their dogs behavior and lack of training skills, or no training at all. A lot of non-disabled people who “slap a vest on their dog” is commiting a Federal Crime, and if they are caught, they could face jail time, as well as a huge monatary charges. It’s a felony to do this. ESA dogs are no longer covered by local, State & Federal Laws. A SD (any size) MUST be trained to provide a physical task for the handler no matter what the disability is. Simply comfort, cuddling etc, or dogs that provide a theraputic effect doesn’t cut it anymore (they make great Therapy Dogs though!) The dogs need to be trained to interrup or redirect impulsive or distructive behaviors in the handler, who suffers from PTSD. All SDs (Mobilty, Hearing, PTSD, Medical Alert, Guide) must be safe and well trained when out in public due to any liability issues. (I can spot a “homejobber” a mile away!) And, it’s those type that make it bad for us handlers who honorably use SDs by filing the Affidavit of Assistant Dog Owner or Trainer, in our own local city. And, yes, they can ask you ,”is this a service dog, and what tasks does the dog provide for you.” I suggest that people who need help with training their dogs to go onto DeltaSociety.org There is a list of SD places where you can get the help and info that you need! I truly believe that educating the public about SDs and doing it the right way is the best way to go, so as to not create a bad image for both handler and K9s! And yes, I am a K9Specialist and I enjoy helping others with their SDs.

9 sussie 05.17.11 at 5:01 pm

I think its great that they are cracking down on people that abuse the service dog rules. The only thing that bothers me is that now they are talking about going even further and having the dog certified. This could put a financial hardship on many people, such as myself, who have been using their well trained self trained service dogs for quite some time.

Sussie and Gunny

10 sussie 05.17.11 at 5:07 pm

You can find very little about that case anymore. Right after it happened there were articles all over the internet. The main one stating that it was a stab in the back for many service dog owners about the special ruling given to Costco and how it might have gone a better way had Ms. Grill had hired a lawyer who was more familiar with the ADA rules.

I was not even aware of this until I was stopped at the door by the manager of our Costco here. She told me that she had the right to decide what service dogs she would allow in the store based on what task they performed. I thought she was just being a trouble maker so I called the main office in Kirkland to complain. They told me that she was correct. I asked them what gave them the right to make that statement and they said it was a court ruling. I mentioned it to the Service Dog group I belonged to and someone told me about the Grill case. At that time, there were stories about it all over the internet.

Sussie and Gunny

11 sussie 05.17.11 at 5:21 pm

I take offense at your homejobber remark. My dog is VERY well trained and was trained by me. As a matter of fact I have received many compliments on how well trained he is and he even has his own column in a dog magazine due to the many things he has accomplished.

I honestly believe that dogs can be trained by their owners and be good service dogs.

12 K9TrainerDeb 05.19.11 at 11:03 am

Homejobber is in reference to non disabled people who misinterpert the SD Laws in order to be able to take their pets out in public. To the truly disabled people who do have SDs they are delighted that I converse with them about their SDs. A lot of it is lack of understanding and knowledge in regards to what these SDs can do for us. Being a K9Specialist and involved with several Nation & Worldwide Service and or Therapy Dog Organizations, A Service Dog Access Consultant & Educator and an Avocate for the Disabled, conducting seminars, special events, going to schools, colleges, businesses, educating animal control, training well over hundreds and hundreds of canines, plus having 40 years of experience, and providing a mission for the public about these awesome SDs, it is a joy and honor to do this for people. A lot of my K9Teams were just pets. But thru temperment evaluation, proper foundation training, public access training, SD task training, evaluation, and filing the Affidavit of Assistence Dog Owner or Trainer and being issued a State Service Dog tag along with it, the handler is even more confident when conducting their lives on a daily basis. So, when confronted by people who don’t know about the SD Laws, my students educate them and it creates a much better image for us, and business are more friendly and open when we do shop inside their stores. My students are very happy, confident, self assured, and enjoy being Advocates too. Both I and own SDs and my K9Teams have been published, been in newspapers, been on TV, and are pretty well known for what we do. Some of my K9Teams are also Therapy Dogs for children at Libraries, at special camps, and for the Veterans. We also promote literacy for adults & children. Our mission is to provide a much better understanding and knowledge of what a SD can do us. A lot of positive results happen when it is done in a confident and proper manner and thru education as well. By the way, both I and my K9Teams do shop at Costco and have never had any problems. If anything, they actually smile at us and say hi when we come in!

13 Kathryn 05.19.11 at 3:01 pm

I don’t have a problem with the Costco policy. I have a large Alaskan Malamute balance/mobility service dog. She has a vest that identifies her as a service animal. I have taken her into Costco several times. Each time, an employee asked if she was a service dog and what task she was trained to perform. I am used to these questions and have no problem answering in a cheerful voice and with a smile.

The problem I have is this certification registry nonsense. If a disabled person is able to train a dog, then by all means DO! Properly training your own service animal establishes a deep, special bond between you and the animal. Maybe I am too cynical, but most (not all) of the people I have noticed advocating for the idiotic, burdensome national registeries, certifications, public access test, etc. usually stand to gain financially from the passage of such laws.

Education is the key. We must educate the general public, businesses, AND service dog trainers, handlers and owners.

Then go after those who pass pets off as services animals with everything we’ve got!

14 Linda 05.20.11 at 11:13 pm

I too have a large Alaskan Malamute balance/mobility service dog. I have not heard of another one in use.

My dog uses a vest part of the time and a SD bandanna the rest of the time. People actually seem to do better about realizing he is a service dog with the bandanna.

I have a problem with the Costco policy, in that if one store can have that policy (no I have not read about the court case) it seems reasonable that others will follow.

I too was offended by the homejobber comment and thank you for the clarification. I trained my dog, he is not perfect, but he is young and still learning. His biggest thing is he will “forget” his is in a down and get up. He is getting better. He was perfect for a hour in the doctor’s office yesterday. He went to DMV with me a we were told he was one of the best SD they have had come in.

As a young dog new to this job he is still learning and there are a few more things I want to fine tune with him, but all and all he does well.

15 Linda 05.20.11 at 11:22 pm

I went to try and find the ruling: http://www.psychdog.org/news/GrillvsCostco.pdf

Sounds like the policy is the dog needs to have a vest or other visual indication it is a service dog. If not, then they can ask about the task the dog does.

I don’t think that is unreasonable. I think most of us make sure our dogs have appropriate “dress” when out and I personally am not offended about being asked the job my dog does.

Probably slows down the fakers, and that would be a good thing!!!

16 sussie 05.21.11 at 9:51 am

Our Costco asks if the dog is a service dog and what the dog does for you. Even though Gunny wears a vest AND tags. One time one of the employees asked me what Gunny was for and then was going to refuse me entry. I said “OK. Tell you what. I’ll go put him away and come back in. And then if or when I end up having an attack and injure myself, you can call the ambulance and it will be on your bill” They allowed me in. Actually, you know what? Now that I think of it, that was the last time anyone caused me any trouble there. LOL!

I have nothing against anyone asking me if my dog is a service dog. However, it does get a bit old when your dog is clearly marked as a service dog and you go into the same place all the time and people still ask.

I think the main problem is his breed. People have this stereotypical idea that all service dogs are large dogs, so when they see him they probably think I’m faking it. Though I know that there are many many other dachshunds in use as service dogs like my Gunny is.

17 K9TrainerDeb 05.21.11 at 7:54 pm

I just saw a picture of your precious Gunny! I lost my Dillan in ’09 during Christmas. I saw the huge tumor that killed him. He was only 9 years old. I’m very fortunate to have other service dogs on my teams that are dachshunds. One is for a Veteran, the other 4 is used for Therapy/Service work. It is so amazing what these little guys can do for us! Thanks for sharing a picture of your beloved Gunny! Take care and have a great weekend!

18 Kathryn 05.22.11 at 11:01 am

I have seen dachshunds as Service Dogs. Several people in the area where I live have dachshunds as hearing alert dogs and psychiatic dogs.

Linda I was so glad to hear I was not the only person who uses an Alaskan Malamute. Mine is classified as a “giant” (over 100 lbs.) and is perfect for balance/mobility. I’m a big girl and need a big dog for assistance. There are no “perfect” service dogs. Just like humans, they have their good days and bad days. Sometimes, she is better behaved than her owner. The only thing she has not overcome is “talking.

Malamutes don’t bark but they do talk. This is an embedded trait of the breed and mine talks her head off to anyone in the general vicinity. I am used to this and, in fact, I enjoy it. But I am aware that others don’t. I have taken her on airplanes. Most people are fascinated with her. A few have complained to airline employees about her talking in the gate area. But several of those same individuals have commented to me that she was perfect during the flight.

19 sussie 05.24.11 at 8:55 am

I agree with you on the good days and bad days statement. Gunny is fantastically trained and rarely “flubs up”. But one day as we were walking along in Whole Foods I was brought to a stop by a taunt leash behind me. I turned around and Gunny was standing there, back hunched, getting ready to have a bowel movement. He had a look on his face like he just KNEW he was totally blowing it. I said “Oh Gunny…oh no no no no” and quickly scooped him up and ran out the door to a grassy area. The poor little guy had diarrhea. Luckily I caught him before he did anything in the store. I learned my lesson that day. Don’t share my Brussels Sprouts with him if we plan on going anywhere the next day. LOL

20 sussie 05.24.11 at 8:58 am

The last time I was up at the VA Hospital, I saw six service dogs. Two were dachshunds. And they were the best behaved out of all of them. I think its due to the fact that dachshunds are “little CEO’s” They take their jobs very seriously. LOL

BTW, that really sucks about Dillan. And you want to know the eerie thing? My friend Nicole just lost her dachshund to cancer too. His name was Dillan. He was a black and tan standard.

21 K9TrainerDeb 05.25.11 at 3:44 pm

Hi Sussie!

My Dillan was a Chocolate Dapple! Before he went to the Rainbow Bridge both him and my Denver (Australian Shepherd) were very close! Denver grieved for him quite a while! He kept going to where Dillan used to sleep by me and would try to locate him. When Denver realized he was gone he had the most painful look in his eyes! I do believe that our beloved animals mourn for each other.
Which VA hospital did you go to? Also, this is MS awearness day! Have a great day today! Keep safe!

22 Tamara Jessup 12.05.11 at 2:13 pm

No one has corrected the claim that the ADA requires the use of identifying vests or tags with service dogs. Regulatory law explicitly states that these are no more necessary than proof of certification. Just thought I’d clear that up.

23 Ms.Renee & Cuz It 03.08.12 at 5:33 am

Sorry this was cut short but we have years togo plus SPEEDFEST tickets this weekend :) Hello we have been a team for a little over a year. I first wanted a monkey from helping hands but find out the law was changing. So I got Cuz It back and train him after the lady I had gave him to passed. He was happy to see me when I showed up. I told him we were gona be one again. I pick him up told him she went to be with her GOD and GOD gave us a 2nd chance to be one. See Cuz It was a unwanted puppy at age 10weeks. I took him in not knowing what he would grow to be my service dog. I laid in the bed all day with no reason to get up because of pain. The lady I gave him to was my daddy provider for over 13years. Cuz It was with me for about 5months and was paper train. But when Cuz It(male mix chi) led with her he learn what grass was. He loved grass and would beg me to take him to use to potty. I got up out of bed. Dont get me wrong having a service dog is not easy all time. But Cuz It was just what w the Dr.ordered. We have gone lots of places with in our time as partners for life some of them( The Miller Outdoor, Jones Hall, school, shoping, to jail and

24 Cooke (Service Dog Owner) Osborn 03.22.12 at 7:38 pm

Hi Sussie,

I am wondering your thoughts on a National or State Level Service Dog Certification program? With the ADA laws making it so simple for people to easily fake the need for a service dog just to bring it with them where ever they are, it puts business owners in a tough spot. Being a Service Dog Owner, Service Dog Certification Blog Writer, and manager in business, I can see this issue with multiple perspectives. I have no problem having a service dog come into my business if a person really needs it, but I have also seen people who really don’t need their pet with them abuse this law. If we had a national certification program, people who need the service animal could certify the animal, have the proper identification and probably in the end run into less problems with uneducated people refusing to the dog enter their establishments. Any thoughts?

25 Kingslandkennels 04.27.12 at 12:46 am

great blog! thanks for sharing!

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