Something that could have an impact on Service Dogs

by Sue on October 30, 2014

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While checking our sales on eBay today I noticed some ads at the bottom that presented other products from other sellers. What disturbed me is that some of these sellers were selling ID’s that are wrong. I am speaking of the ones for sale that say “Emotional Support Service Dog. Full Access Required”.

This is very very very wrong!

There is no such thing as an Emotional Support Service Dog. There are Emotional Support Animals and there are Service Dogs.

In the ADA rulings it clearly states…
Effective March 15, 2011, “Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”

Key changes include the following:
1. Only dogs will be recognized as service animals.
2. Service animals are required to be leashed or harnessed except when performing work or tasks where such tethering would interfere with the dog’s ability to perform.
3. Service animals are exempt from breed bans as well as size and weight limitations.
4. Though not considered service animals, businesses are generally required to accommodate the use of miniature horses under specific conditions.

Until the effective date, existing service animals of all species will continue to be covered under the ADA regulations.

Existing policies that were clarified or formalized include the following:
1. Dogs whose sole function is “the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship” are not considered service dogs under the ADA.
2. The use of service dogs for psychiatric and neurological disabilities is explicitly protected under the ADA.
3. “The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence” do not qualify that animal as a service animal and “an animal individually trained to provide aggressive protection, such as an attack dog, is not appropriately considered a service animal.”

Take note of the section about Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals are only recognized by the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. They do NOT have full access to any other places

There are a couple things that upset me about other sellers selling these “Emotional Support Service Dog. Full Access Required” tags.

#1 They are selling items that are misleading and allow people to break the law by taking their ESA into places posted Service Animals only. And because these tags look so official, the public will accept the ID and allow the ESA in.

#2 Because the law states that an ESA does NOT have to have any training, these ESA’s could have a great impact on how the public views Service Dogs in the event that an ESA bites someone or causes any other number of problems.

I have personally approached some of these sellers to try and advise them of the rules. Only one actually stopped selling the “Emotional Support Service Dog” tags. The rest simply did not care and were only interested in the money they were making off the tags.

To me, that is nothing but taking advantage of the misinformed and scamming the public.

Sussie and Service Dog “Gunny”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 C-A Mystry 11.03.14 at 7:44 am

I fully agree. I got told an aweful lot that my Papillion cannot be a Service Dog, since he is not a lab. I wish people would understand that any breed or size of dog can be a Service Dog. I am limited by the size of dog I can have, therefor, a small dog is the choice for me. He is well trained and well mannered, and once I talk to people about his abilities, and the difference between Service, Emotional support or pet dogs, they seem to have a better understanding of why MY dog is allowed in the Local Foodlion and why they can’t bring Scruffy or Fido in.
Of course I get this mostly from tourist, as the locals around here have seen us so often, they just love to come up and talk about him, as well as ask about my Retired Service Dog (long coat Chihuahua) and how he is doing.
And you are so correct, if one of those ESA dogs does bite someone because they do not have to follow the strict rules of SD’s, it will make it so much harder for those who Need a SD to help them. I hope the day comes where everyone is honest enough not to get those ‘fake’ tags, but there (unfortunately) will always be some out there. (I even still to this day, carry my dr’s note stating that I require the help of an SD for daily needs)

2 Suzanne Peters 11.03.14 at 9:18 am

I agree and understand what you are stating but there are now other factors that influence how people consider if a dog is a service dog.
More and more is being said and I really think (other than the those intent to deceive) the public will soon learn. I had a conversation the other day with a very nice lady who quizzed me about why the Wounded Warriors who are in emotional distress (not the injured) can have a service dog. To her it seemed a conflict and I think the public has a hard time understanding the difference. We need more explanations on public TV, at training sessions, with anyone who will listen and is interested. I care because I have a small service dog to assist me from a fall and now have problems with orientation and balance issues. He has saved me several times from walking in front of a car, into a wall etc. Even my children don’t get it but I know without him I could not function. Let’s all speak out………………………

3 Shelly Rose-McCann 11.03.14 at 9:52 am

I have seen the same websites and businesses at animal-centric trade shows and events, and my reaction is the same as yours. As someone who relies on her Service Dog for balance/mobility, I speak to individuals and groups about the inherent problems of purposeful misrepresentation to claim an obviously untrained “Service Dog” to gain restaurant or otherwise-restricted access.

I remind those individuals they would not want to trade places with me, or anyone else whose very ability to lead a productive life, is dependent upon our wonderful, TRAINED and genuinely necessary, Service Dogs.

4 Susan 11.03.14 at 11:39 am

I so agree. Is there anyway that your write up can get out to more people? I think most people like myself that follow your articles already understand and agree with what you say. Can this article that you wrote be copied and posted to face book or some other social media?

5 Randi H 11.03.14 at 7:03 pm

I am confused (and concerned) by the above post. It sounds as though there are NEW proposed changes to ADA, but the only effective date mentioned above is long in the past (2011). I am particularly concerned about the statement that “2. The use of service dogs for psychiatric and neurological disabilities is explicitly protected under the ADA.” I suffer from panic attacks (which are defined in the diagnostic codes as a psychiatric disorder), and my service dog is able to sense an oncoming attack in time to let me take medication and either avert or reduce the severity of the attack. Can someone help me by clarifying whether these are new changes? If so, I would think the growing use of service dogs to assist PTSD victims (as well as any seizure-alert dogs) would also be disallowed. My service dog has been extensively trained, is also small – a miniature poodle – and has never taken any action that could be considered objectionable by even the most intense opponent of allowing dogs into places of business that do not allow pets. (By the way, I also still carry the letter from my primary care physician justifying the use of my service dog.)

6 Sue 11.05.14 at 10:06 am

I honestly do not see the ADA/DOJ changing any time soon. If they ever do, we will keep anyone posted.

7 Sue 11.05.14 at 10:07 am

Anything we have posted on this blog is OK to cross post.

8 Kathryn 11.23.14 at 11:43 am

Ditto for items stating “Federally Registered Service Dog” and “Certified Service Dog”.

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