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Service Dog Guide

What is a Service Dog?

Service Animal Definition The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to perform tasks related to the owners disability identified by the ADA. A service animal is not a pet. If your Service Dog is a well behaved, it cannot be excluded from a business. For all the information regarding Service Animals, visit the ADA website. 

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of "assistance animal" under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of "service animal" under the Air Carrier Access Act. Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general's office, or by visiting the ADA website.

What is a Therapy Dog?

A Therapy animal gives its heart to making people feel better. A Therapy Dog gives smiles and hope to people in hospitals and long-term nursing care, children who need extra love, to shut-ins, and to anyone who needs the caring only a dog can give. Therapy dogs typically must pass the Canine Good Citizen test and join a group or organization dedicated to therapy dog work. These dogs must be calm and enjoy being handled by strangers and given a lot of attention. 

What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

An emotional support animal is any animal that helps someone with psychiatric or mental issues to lead a more fulfilling and normal life. While these animals don't require any specific training, they are much more than pets. These animals provide you with therapeutic benefits based on companionship. While dogs and cats are the most common types of emotional support animal, any species that can be kept as a pet can be an emotional support animal. 

Learn more about Emotional Support Animals in our Ultimate Resource for Emotional Support Animals

What are the consequences of faking a service dog? 

Faking a service dog is illegal and often thought of as a victimless crime. However, that is far from the truth. Aside from the legal penalties being thousands of dollars in fines and/or months of jail time, faking a service dog hurts other people and real service dogs. Real service dogs go through months of training to learn to be calm and focused on the job. Fake service dogs do not. A fake service dog can become harmful if it becomes too playful or aggressive with other working dogs or people in public. This could cause a real service dog to lose focus on the job it needs to do to keep its handler safe. Due to how often fake service dogs are brought into businesses, business owners can get annoyed and often begin to doubt and turn people with real service dogs away. Because of so many fraudulent cases, service dog laws may change which could make it harder for someone who needs a service dog to get one or use one. To learn more about the consequences of faking a service dog, read more here.  

Does my service dog need a vest?

Your service dog does not have to wear a service dog vest by any means, but there are several reasons why it could be beneficial for you to get one. 

A service dog vest can prevent awkward questions. Although it is illegal for a business to ask for proof that your dog is a service dog, it can still happen, and a vest can help you to avoid these types of situations.

A vest can keep others from distracting your dogs. Dogs are man's best friend, so it makes sense for people to want to pet your dog, but service dogs need to concentrate. A vest will send a message to others that your dog is hard at work and shouldn't be distracted.

A vest will help your dog to look like the professional he or she is!

Service dog vests are not a requirement, but they can help you to have a much more comfortable situation whenever you leave your house. 

What color vest and equipment does my service dog need?

To make a service dog's job easier, some equipment may help. Service dog vests and equipment come in a variety of colors. Although there is no specific color required the most popular colors are red, blue, and forrest green. Service dog equipment can come in a variety of colors ranging from bright pink, to black, to fun colors like tie dye! Check out our service dog vests for a variety of color and style options. 

What other equipment will my service dog need?

Although service dogs are not required by law to wear a vest, having access to a vest and the right equipment may make your service dog's job easier and help you avoid questions from businesses. A vest is typically the first piece of equipment a handler purchases for their service dog. Vests can be big or small, include mesh for breathability, and sometimes have pockets to store items and ID Cards. Vests can come with patches or often times, patches can be sewn on to a vest that tells others it is a working dog. Read more about the equipment your service dog may need here and take a look at our vests, patches, ID Cards, and service dog accessories afterward to get you and your service dog set up today! 

What are my and my service dog's rights when going to a business?

Your service dog is your partner and an invaluable and necessary element in your everyday outings and activities. At times you may be unsure of the rights of your service animal or may be confronted by the owner of a business location who all but demands your life story before he or she decides whether or not to allow your dog to remain inside. Thankfully the ADA spells out your rights as well as acceptable questions and concerns from business owners. The knowing of this information will make going places with your animal companion totally comfortable. To learn more about what specific questions you can and cannot be asked, visit our guide here

Things to know before flying with your service dog.

 Flying with an animal can be nerve wracking but certain steps can be taken to minimize the stress and situations that may slow your trip down. Preparation is a good first step in flying with your service dog. Many people find it helpful to minimize your service dog's food and water intake before flying to prevent accidents. Additionally, making sure your service dog has an ID Card that can be linked to your information may help if unforeseen circumstances arise. Calling the airline ahead of time is also a good way to find out what requirements must be met to bring your service dog along. If you are flying to another country, it is good to be cognizant of any laws regarding service dogs in that country, and any re-entry requirements when coming back home. Be aware of any airport security and be sure to arrive early for your flight. It may help to remove your service dog's collar and any equipment with metal to minimize the chances of the security metal detectors going off. Before you board, letting flight attendants know you are boarding with a service dog may help make the process go smoother. 

Flying with a service animal should not be an exhausting and frustrating experience. To reduce the chances of this happening, understanding the process unique to your airline as well as the general requirements can benefit everyone involved. Read more about flying with a service dog here