Studies revealed that dogs are faithful companions and offer health benefits. Dogs reduce stress, enhance happiness level and increase fitness. In the past decade, the demand for service dogs has increased.
What’s a service dog?
People with disabilities can lead an independent life with a service dog as their companion. As per the ADA [Americans with Disability Act], a dog trained specifically to perform tasks for a disabled person is called a service dog. ADA defines disability as a mental or physical impairment that limits one or several key life activities.
The ADA forbids discrimination based on disability at the workplace, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunication, and other sectors. The only condition is to get an emotional support dog letter from doctor to gain access to facilities and establishment where pets are not allowed.
Different categories of dogs
The size or breed of the service dog must be chosen as per the support task needed to help alleviate a disability. For example, Papillon is exceptional hearing dogs, but not the right choice to push/pull a wheelchair.
Breeds like Saint Bernards, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Great Danes have good strength and height. They offer good mobility support. On the other hand, poodles come in miniature, toy and standard varieties. Toy poodles are trained early to alert blood sugar fluctuations, while standard poodles learn to carry objects and activate light switches.
The common trained breeds are guide dogs including Labrador, German shepherd, and Golden Retrievers. The best service dog is desensitized to distractions, highly trained to do specific tasks and handler-focused. They never get diverted easily from their tasks not just at home but even in public. They are always responsive and attentive to their owners.
The dog trained to detect the happening of an anxiety attack and takes specific action to lessen or avoid the attack is qualified as an emotional support animal or ESA pet. Even if the dog is not trained as a service dog, but offers its disabled owner comfort, it is regarded as an emotional support animal as per the ADA.
ESA owners need to check with their local laws if ESA’s are allowed or not within public facilities or housing. Access to air travel and housing needs for ESAs differ from one location to another. The law is subjected to changes, so be updated!
Therapy dogs offer comfort and cheer to the hospital patients, stressed travelers, residents of the assisted living center, elderly homes, and more. Therapy dogs are not service dogs as per the ADA.
There are the courthouse dogs that wear vests or have IDs but are not termed as service dogs. During trial proceedings, courthouse dogs accompany a vulnerable person or child in the law court.