Friday, June 3rd, 2011
I commonly chat with folks who are not clear about what the laws are with regard to the designation of "service animal". A friend sent me the following statement which is a summary of the new law and is more clear than I have seen in the past.
The new law came into effect this year in March and defines a service animal as the following:
"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 handler´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."
The service law states that the only reason a service dog can be bared from admission is if it is not house broken or its not under the control of the owner. It also states that the owner can not be asked what their disability is, but they can be asked what service the dog provides, and if the animal is required due to a disability. The owner is not required to carry any documentation.
I'm glad to see that the law is written more clearly now. I have been witness to many situations in which the law was being abused. The worst was a situation where two dogs with one owner came into a small grocery store and dove into the bulk bins. The situation was very out of control, and the poor store owner who was of foreign decent and culture was upset but mystified as to what his rights were. The human end of those leashes was screaming that they were her service dogs. This is such a dis-service to anyone who really needs a dog and has one that is behaviorally appropriate. It would be great to see the law posted in store fronts so all could be educated.