The most recent version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect on January 17th, 2017. The ADA was first published in 1991 and has been revised multiple times to include Standards for Accessible Design, define the term “disability”, and clarify the public accommodation’s obligation to provide services for individuals with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to discriminate against disabled persons. Individuals suffering from a qualifying disability are able to have their service dog by their side wherever they go.
Definition of a Service Dog
Most people picture a “seeing eye” dog when they think of a service dog, but guide dogs for the blind are just one of many types of service dogs. The ADA defines a service dog as a dog that is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”
The responsibility of a service dog can include opening doors, indicating sounds to a deaf person, alerting his handler to an impending seizure, providing stability when walking, or even bringing medication to treat a panic attack. Many of the disabilities service dogs assist with do not exhibit an obvious physical condition.
Service Dog vs. Therapy Dog
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a dog does not qualify as a service dog if it simply provides comfort but does not perform a specific task. Dogs that provide emotional support, but do not perform a specific task, are therapy dogs.
Although therapy dogs serve a valuable role for disabled people, they are not covered under the ADA. However, if the dog were to remind an individual with severe depression to take their depression medication, it would be considered a task and qualify as a service animal.
Americans with Disabilities Act Defines Disability
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines disability in legal terms verses medical terms. The ADA defines a disability in three parts:
- A mental or physical impairment that inhibits one’s ability to perform major life tasks.
- Current impairment or documentation of a past impairment.
- Individuals regarded to have a disability.
If you meet the above definition, you are legally permitted to have a service dog with you in public places. However, note that a service animal in training is not yet considered a service animal under the ADA. Individual states and localities have their own laws and regulations regarding animals in public places. In instances where the federal and state or local laws differ, you are covered under the more protective regulation.
Service Dog Training
Many organizations train, and sometimes donate, service dogs for the disabled. You can apply to a local or national organization that trains and helps match disabled persons with a service dog. If you have served in the military, there are veterans’ organizations that provide service dogs to veterans specifically.
Several online resources connect you with training organizations and charities. Individual organizations have varying requirements, but the best trainers match you with a dog with the right traits for the tasks you need.
Although professional assistance is extremely helpful, professional training is not required for a dog to be considered a service dog. A disabled owner is allowed to train their dog themselves to complete the necessary tasks.
Healthy dogs are a standard for service animals. Once you’ve taken possession of your assistance dog, help keep him or her healthy with products like NuVet Plus and Nujoint Plus. These supplements are described in the NuVet Labs reviews as helping with joint and eye health, both important to the abilities of a service dog. Visit nuvetplus.com for more information.