Service Dog Information and Law

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created on July 26, 1990, to protect those with physical and mental disabilities from discrimination and rights infringement. It claimed that everyone has the right to work, take part in local and state government, and be a decent part of society. “Equal rights” – simple yet important philosophy.

In order to get protection from the ADA, the person has to be diagnosed or have a record or history of physical or mental illnesses that limit basic life activities. Sometimes, a person’s relatives can apply to the ADA if they are not able to do it on their own.
The ADA does not list all types of illnesses that the term “disability” includes. It can be both physical, visibly noticeable ones (like blindness or impaired mobility) and those connected with mental health (anxiety, depression, etc.)

What Is a Service Dog?

Service dogs are animals taught to help and do tasks for people with disabilities. They can help deaf people, guide those with vision problems, comfort somebody during an anxiety attack, remind them to take medications, etc.

Service dogs are not pets, they are trained to be working animals. Each dog is taught to assist in tasks directly related to the owner’s disability.

Service dogs are allowed in every place that is open to public visits. They can accompany their owners to grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, schools, parks, and other public areas. Remember, workers at the establishment you are visiting cannot demand a doctor’s letter, note, or document that confirms the person’s disability, training certificate, or any other type of document. In addition, they also cannot ask to demonstrate how exactly a service dog helps its owner. This information is strictly personal!

Sometimes, people don’t need a service dog to deal with the conditions mentioned above; an emotional support animal or a psychiatric service animal would be a better choice. That’s why it’s highly recommended to talk to a medical professional to make sure the right type of four-legged helper is selected to assist with your everyday tasks. It may be a little overwhelming to do it on your own, so it is always recommended to make such important decisions with an experienced specialist.

The only two questions that can be asked are:

Note that those questions can be asked only if it is appropriate and disability is not apparent. E.g., if a service dog is guiding a blind person, it would be rude to talk about their service dog with them.

What Disabilities Qualify for a Service Dog

According to the ADA, people may qualify for a service dog due to a mental or physical disability. However, not all conditions can be classified as ones that require the assistance of a specifically trained animal, and thus it’s better to check out the list of all the issues before picking up a service dog.

List of Physical Disabilities That Qualify for a Service Dog

Specially-trained service animals can assist in performing various tasks for their handlers, in this way, making their routine more manageable. Duties may vary based on a person’s needs – from opening the doors and guiding the owner to bringing pills and water when needed. Overall, people may need a service animal because of any of the following conditions:

  • Sensory disabilities (deaf, blind, etc.);
  • Multiple sclerosis;
  • Cerebral palsy;
  • Muscular dystrophy;
  • Spinal cord injury;
  • Diabetes;
  • Paralysis;
  • Cancer;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Arthritis;
  • Chronic pain;
  • Vertigo;
  • And others.

To make sure your disability requires a service dog’s help, discuss your needs and concerns with a doctor to be sure this option is suitable for you.

List of Mental Disabilities that Qualify for a Service Dog

Regarding mental disorders, these are considered suitable to qualify for a service dog assistant:

  • Bipolar disorders;
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);
  • Depression and depressive disorders;
  • PTSD, trauma & stress-related disorders;
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders;
  • Anxiety disorders & phobias;
  • Autism;
  • And so on.

Frequently Asked Questions

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