QUESTION: Are service dogs required to wear some kind of identification or do the owners carry some kind of certification papers so businesses will know if is really a service dog?
ANSWER: No, service dogs are not required to wear some specific kind of identification, although many do, and owners are not required to carry certification papers. However, under state and federal law, service dogs must be harnessed or leashed, unless that interferes with the animal’s work or it isn’t possible because of the person’s disability. Then, the animal’s owner must control the dog by other means, such as voice or signals.
QUESTION: Are therapy dogs considered service dogs?
No, under the traditional definition of a therapy dog, a therapy dog is not a service dog. “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website about the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. … Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”
Under some state laws, an assistance animal must have been “trained by an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities as reputable….”
Therapy dogs typically are people’s pets who they take to visit patients at nursing homes, hospitals and similar places because of the benefits those visits provide to the patients.
The Department of Justice also offers this guidance for businesses:
“When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”
The Battle Buddy Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness about PTSD, TBI and the other invisible wounds of war. TBBF is diligently working to provide service dogs to the veterans who need them, and working to educate the public about service dogs, and the benefits provided.