From the category archives:

Service Dog Laws

Access to Public Places for Service and Assistance Dogs under the ADA

by Sue on September 5, 2012

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This is an EXCELLENT video that I think everyone should watch. However it does need to be updated a bit (being created in 2010) because as of March 15, 2011 only dogs and miniature horses can be Service Animals.

Sussie, Gunny, Rainy, Lucy and Squeaky.


WaWa Inc. to Pay $12,500 in Service-Dog Case

by Sue on August 22, 2012

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WaWa Inc. has paid Patrick Stark, a New Jersey glassworks artist, $12,500 to settle a claim that Stark was wrongfully turned away when he entered the convenience store with his service dog.

Stark, 33, said he went into a Millville, N.J., WaWa to buy a sandwich on June 13 but was told he had to leave Copenhagen, his Queensland heeler that wears special tags, outside. But the dog is a necessity. Three years ago, Stark, an Army veteran, was mugged and has experienced occasional seizures ever since. Copenhagen helps him get around.

Stark claimed he explained that the dog was legally permitted to remain, but a store manager told him to leave. This was the fifth time since April 2011 that Stark said he’d a problem getting served at WaWa. After each incident, he said he’d written a letter to corporate headquarters, but heard nothing.

Stark subsequently filed a complaint with the New Jersey State Attorney General’s office Division on Civil Rights.

WaWa has agreed, in addition to the $12,500 payment, to post signs in its New Jersey stores advising customers that service dogs were welcome. It has also agreed to train its New Jersey employees about laws pertaining to service animals, as well as the company policy welcoming them.

The convenience store chain has also agreed to “seriously consider” making a charitable contribution to an organization devoted to providing service animals to individuals with disabilities, according to the complaint filed with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.

” Since the incident we have been revisiting associate training and understanding around service animals in all of our stores throughout our five state area and we will continue to make this a priority,” said a WaWa spokesperson. “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure everyone in all of the communities we serve feels welcomed, respected and included.”

The convenience store chain did not admit any wrongdoing in the Stark case.

“This is an important resolution of this matter,” said Division Director Craig T. Sashihara in a statement. “The allegations in this case were troubling. However, we credit WaWa for its responsiveness, and for being ready to educate store employees about the rights of people who employ service animals.”

Note from me:

This individual actually contacted me right after this incident. I told him what they did was illegal. I am glad he won. The only disturbing thing I find is that the company still admits they did nothing wrong. What is the point of suing someone if they are not going to learn from their mistakes?

Sussie and the Friendly Foursome
Gunny, Rainy, Lucy and Squeaky


Service Dog, Emotional Support Animal or Therapy dog…

by Sue on June 21, 2012

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People tend to get these three confused at times so I will sum it up in a nut shell.

Service Dog: A dog that is trained (either by the owner or someone else. Or in some cases the dog just does it naturally) to help that disabled individual with day to day tasks, helps alert an individual when its time for medication or if they are about to have a seizure, or helps calm a person with PTSD, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Aspergers, Autism, etc.

Emotional Support Animal: Any animal that gives a person the will to live. In other words, gives them something to live for. This is very key for those suffering from depression, etc.

Therapy Dog: Any dog that has been tested for temperament (usually with a Canine Good Citizen test, commonly known as a CGC test). Then used for many purposes such as visiting people in a hospital, visiting nursing homes, calming a frightened or traumatized child, calming a child while being interviewed as a witness, and many many other way that just in general make people feel good.

Places each dog can go:

Service Dog: Open access except in private homes. If a home owner states that they do not want the dog in their home, they do have the right to say no. Basically, any place which is open to the public is to allow a service dog( with the exception of churches and Indian reservations as they are considered sovereign nations).

Emotional Support Animal: On Airlines and in housing (that the owner is renting or leasing) with a policy against pets or restrictions on pets. No place else. Public places that are posted “Service Dogs Only” or “Service Animals Only” are not open to Emotional Support Animals or Therapy Dogs.

Therapy Dogs: Allowed into areas with allow Therapy Dogs. Not allowed into places only Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals are allowed unless given special permission (In other words. The dog needs to do the job that he is trained for in that particular area).

Sussie and the Friendly Foursome
Gunny, Rainy, Lucy, Squeaky


Goodwill Discrimnates against Service Animals.

by Sue on June 13, 2012

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Service Dog Owner Claims Discrimination
By Megan Brantley
POSTED: 5:48 am EDT June 12, 2012

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — A Johnson City woman claims that she was discriminated against for bringing her service dog inside a store.

According to the Americans with Disability Act, state and local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.

One woman she was not allowed to do so when she was shopping at the Goodwill. Rose Holowka is dealing with a disability. “I was in a car wreck back in 1992 which caused seizures that developed into epilepsy and have partial complex seizures,” she explained.

Her service dog Honey makes things a little easier, but we learned that the law makes it a little harder. “About a month ago my husband and I went to the Goodwill, and we were approached by their supervisor. We were told that we had to leave or show certification or documentation for the dog,” said Holowka.

Unlike being blind, Holowka doesn’t have a visible disability and she says that makes it harder to convince people.

Federal law does not require folks to show proof an animal is a service dog. State representative Jon Lundberg says places are not allowed to ask. “You can’t ask to see that,” says Lundberg, “This is not like ‘let’s see you driver’s license, let’s see your dog credentials.’ It doesn’t work that way, it wasn’t designed to work that way.”

Although it wasn’t designed that way, it’s put places like Goodwill in a very tough position. With the animals not being required by law to wear a vest or dog tag, it makes it hard to tell which dog is a service dog and which isn’t.

We spoke with a representative from Goodwill who said that with the right paperwork they’d be happy to allow them in, but until then, their policy says no pets allowed.

NOTE FROM ME: They need to read the rules. They are, by law, not allowed to asked to see written proof. The only thing they are allowed to ask is “Is that a service dog?” and “What does that service dog do for you?”

On a personal note: I go in Goodwills all the time and never have an issue. Maybe Oregon is different. I don’t know.

Sussie and the Fearsome Foursome.


A little interaction…

by Sue on May 9, 2012

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Do not feel obligated to participate in this if you do not feel comfortable about doing so.

I am trying to keep this blog active but am running out of articles about Service Dogs. So I decided today to make it a little more interactive…

What type of breed of SD do you have?

What made you decide on that particular breed?

Was this originally your own personal dog that you trained (or it came by the task naturally) to be a service dog, or did you obtain it already trained?

If you live in housing with a no pets policy, was it difficult to obtain permission to allow you to have your SD?

Have you ever flown with your SD?

What airlines did you use and were they accommodating to you?


Sussie, Gunny, Rainy and Lucy


A personal note from your moderator

by Sue on March 20, 2012

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Last year I posted a complaint about the fact that Costco would harass me each time I wished to enter their warehouse (as they call them) with my PTSD dog. Several of you replied that you had been having similar problems where as others replied they had never had a problem at all. This is an update as to what eventually happened at my end.

Everything finally came to a head of February 5th. They not only flat out refused me but also harassed me to the point of making me have a break down in the store. One so strong that my service dog could not help me. I decided that enough was enough and contacted Costco. After many emails, many negotiations, many hours of educating them on the ADA rules and regs, ending with having a conference call with their Lawyers; they sent me a formal letter and a follow-up email stating in so many words that I would no longer be hassled about my PTSD service dog.

I am happy to say that I was able to accomplish this without consulting or hiring a Lawyer.

So why am I telling you readers this?

Two reasons.

One. I will no longer speak ill of Costco as they have agreed to allowing my PTSD dog in.

Two. Anytime any of you run into a problem with your service dog at a place of business, don’t immediately get all upset and threaten to sue or contact your lawyer, etc. Try to work it out with calm negotiations and having done your “homework” on the ADA rules and regs and the Service Dog rules and regs in your state, city and county. It will get you further than threats. That’s what I did. And I’m glad I did. Everyone was happy. Especially me.

I can now take my PTSD Service Dog into Costco and she can do her job that she was trained to do.

Sussie, Gunny, Rainy and Lucy


Reminder of the new law changes by ADA as of March 15th, 2011

by Sue on December 28, 2011

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I do customer service for Service Dog Tags. Today I spoke with someone who was not aware of the changes in rules about service dogs. The new one that took affect March 15th of this year. The one that includes anxiety and PTSD as a disability and any dog that is used to control that is now a service dog.

I actually kinda felt sorry for this man as he was under the impression that, even though his dog helped him, since he could hold down a job, he was not disabled even though he was formally diagnosed with PTSD. I politely told him that he was wrong.

There are many many disabled people that can hold down a job. The presence of the service dog makes them able to do so. I am one of those. I work full time for Service Dog Tags. However I honestly feel that if I did not have my service dogs (my retired one, my current one, and my one in training) that I probably would not be able to work. Or, even worse, not even be able to function or maybe not even be in existence.

This gentleman that I spoke with had pretty much limited his lifestyle due to the fact that he felt he was not disabled. This was due to misinformation on his part. Since speaking with me he now understands and will probably be doing a few more enjoyable things in his life now that he can take his “service dog” with him.

Please be aware of the new ruling change. Be aware that anxiety and PTSD, correctly diagnosed by someone in the medical field, IS a disability. And any dog that is used to prevent or control the symptoms of such IS a Service Dog according to ADA.

Sussie and the Y Team
(Gunny, Rainy and Lucy)


What type of equipment do you use on your service dog?

by Sue on October 14, 2011

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Vest? Tags? Doctor’s note? Nothing?

What has worked best for you and your dog? Any recommendations? Pros? Cons?

The ADA states that a service dog does not need to be identified as a service dog. However they suggest it as it reduces conflicts.

I for one use both a vest and a tag on Gunny and Rainy.

Sussie, Gunny and Rainy.


Aurora ponders permitting pit bulls as service dogs

by Sue on October 1, 2011

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The Aurora Sentinel | 0 comments

AURORA | City officials could discuss the possibility of amending an ordinance to allow pit bulls as service dogs in the city at an executive session as early as Oct. 11, according to a city attorney.

The announcement of the meeting comes after officials from the U.S. Department of Justice said earlier this summer that any dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for disabled people should be classified as a service animal, under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The Department of Justice expressed an opinion that breed-specific legislation, or breed bans, should not be applied on a blanket level to service animals,” said Charlie Richardson, the city’s attorney.

City officials have drafted an ordinance that would accommodate all types of service dogs, but Aurora City Council members must first be briefed on the issue, and then the potential ordinance change must be sent to a committee for public and employee input, Richardson said.

At the Oct. 11 meeting, council members will be briefed on the ongoing litigation that originated when Aurora resident Allen Grider filed a lawsuit against the city in March. Grider, a Vietnam War Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, said the city can’t mandate how his service dog is maintained, even if the dog is a banned breed. Grider and two Denver residents filed a class-action lawsuit against Aurora and Denver in March and are seeking damages of more than $75,000.

A social worker suggested that Grider acquire a therapy pet to alleviate his symptoms, and he got his pit bull in 2003.

“She’s my protector,” Grider said during an interview earlier this year. “I can’t sleep if she’s not here. If I’m tense, she’ll bother me until I calm down.”

But in November 2009, the city’s animal control officers seized the dog because it was a banned breed.

The city eventually determined that the dog was a service dog, and after about five months the dog was released to Grider, on the condition that she wear a muzzle in public, among other restrictions.

The lawsuit was filed by the Wheat Ridge-based Animal Law Center shortly after the dog, Precious, was back with Grider.

“We believe there are an number of damages that occurred because of what Aurora did in this situation, by taking his dog away from him,” said Grider’s attorney, Jennifer Reba Edwards. “As long as these pit bull ordinances have been in place, they have been in violation of the ADA.”

City officials from Denver are set to review a proposal Monday that would allow pit bulls as service dogs within the city.


A personal note from Sussie:

I personally love Pit Bulls. They are terriers and terriers make great Service Dogs.


Bill approved to make VA service-dog friendly

by Sue on September 19, 2011

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I find the below article quite interesting. Only because my husband and myself have been taking our Service Dogs in to the VA for a long time and no one ever questioned us. We both have PTSD.


Bill approved to make VA service-dog friendly

By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Posted : Monday Sep 12, 2011 16:55:07 EDT

The House of Representatives could vote as early as next week on sweeping legislation that makes the Veterans Affairs Department more dog-friendly.

A House committee has approved legislation that would allow service dogs to be used on any VA property or in any VA facility, including any facility or property receiving VA funding.

“I’m really pleased this legislation is moving, just for the sheer fact we have been trying to do this for so long,” said Christina Roof, deputy national legislative director for the veterans’ service organization AmVets. “VA could have done this itself, by regulation, a long time ago if they wanted, but they haven’t done anything so it looks like Congress will.”

Under current law and regulation, VA is required only to allow guide dogs for the blind onto its property and into facilities because those are the only type of assistance animals specifically covered in federal law. Individual facilities directors can be more flexible, if they wish.

VA officials have been working since March on trying to come up with a new service dog policy but discussions have been bogged down, in part, over the question of whether the policy should specifically list the types of service dogs that should be allowed or to leave that open to interpretation.

Language included in HR 2074, a veterans’ health care bill passed Sept. 28 by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, would end the discussion. The provision is very direct, saying the VA secretary “may not prohibit the use of service dogs in any facility or on any property.” The bill makes no effort to define what constitutes a service dog.

Roof said she expects common sense would be used, with eligible dogs having received some specialized training in order to be considered a service dog and with facilities still able to have restrictions on where dogs could go on the premises. For example, a service dog would not be allowed into an operating room but might be allowed in the waiting room of a medical clinic, she said.

In addition to opening the buildings and grounds to service dogs, the bill would create a three-year pilot program in which veterans with post-traumatic stress or other post-deployment mental disorders would be involved in training service dogs for other veterans. The idea of the test is to see if being a dog trainer has any rehabilitation benefits for veterans.

Veterans who have service dogs would have priority in being hired as trainers under the pilot program.