More and more people, especially Veterans, are enjoying the companionship and services of a canine assistant.
These are dogs, many of whom are from rescue shelters, that are specifically trained to assist the Veteran in everyday life activity.
They provide assistance and comfort to Veterans suffering from a physical, mental or emotional disability.
These dogs offer support where needed and improve the quality of life of their owner.
They are true working dogs!
What canine classification defines your companion dog?
I am sharing a great review of service dog classifications that The Old Man found on Bark Post.
JC Johnson is the author. We applaud the fact that JC has worked in Animal Welfare for more than 40 years!
People who encounter a Veteran with a canine assistant are often unclear about the relationship between the Veteran and the dog. The article explores that relationship and offers guidance and understanding to the public and the Veteran. The article gives a clear and simple explanation of the differences among and the legal aspects of canine companions.
And of utmost importance to the community and people who encounter a Veteran with a service dog companion:
- No matter which type of working dog you encounter, never interact with the dog without the handler’s express permission.
- Please do not be offended if the handler asks you not to talk to or pet their dog.
- Service dogs, in particular, have a job to do, and shouldn’t have their attention diverted from their work.
The Old Man offers the “legalese” version of the law, defined by the ADA, as it applies to service animals:
The following is from The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section:
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Examples of such work or tasks:
- 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
Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a canine assistant has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
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. You can obtain additional information from the State attorney general’s office.
Please take advantage of the information and check out our sources.