September is Service Dog Month, and I am dedicating this blog to spread the word and touch on a few little known facts about service dogs.
- A Puppy Cannot Be a Service Dog: Sorry to break the bad news, but your new puppy cannot be designated by law as a service dog. A puppy can be considered a service dog prospect. Still, until they have gone through all their training for the dedicated disability, they do not legally qualify as service dogs.
- Not All Dogs Can be Service Dogs: Believe it or not, not all dogs are qualified to become service dogs. I’m not talking about dog breeds, but about the individual dog’s ability. Dogs considered for service dogs training are evaluated to see if they are up to the job. Dogs considered for law enforcement or guiding the visually impaired go through evaluations, and not all make the cut. Nothing is wrong with these dogs; they are just better suited for something else in their doggie lives.
- Purchasing a Vest and Certification Online Does Not Make Your Dog a Legitimate Service Dog: Don’t waste your hard-earned money on those companies you see online. These companies claim state purchasing their products will officially make your dog a service dog. Those companies are illegal and scams. The certifications are not legally legitimate.
- Emotional Support Dogs or Therapy Dogs Are Not Service Dogs: Dogs designated as Emotional Support Animals or Therapy Dogs are not legally service dogs. Service dogs are tasked trained to help an individual with a disability. The American Disability Act clearly states what qualifies a dog as a “service dog.” Dogs and Mini Horses are the only animals that are recognized for the “service” designation. If you go around claiming your pet cat, bunny, bird, or any other species is your “service animal,” sorry to say; they are not by legal definition.
- Any Breed Can Be a Service Dog: Service dogs are not limited to particular breeds, although it is widespread to see larger breeds like Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers as service working dogs. However, their size typically determines what disability training may be better suited for them. A chihuahua can’t be trained to be a guide dog for a visually impaired individual but could be a diabetic alert dog candidate.
Many don’t know, but I am a service dog handler. My dog Julian is my trained PTSD Service Dog to help me manage combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
I don’t often discuss having a service dog. It has been my experience that I am bombarded with people telling me they want their dog to be a service dog without having a legitimate medical disability when I bring the topic up.
Service dogs should never be thought of as a “trendy thing” to have. I understand wanting to have your pup with you at all times, but falsifying the need for a service dog or misrepresenting your dog as a service dog is not only illegal by state and federal law, but flat out makes you a corrupt and dishonest individual.
There is a lot more involved in having a service dog then just throwing a vest on your dog, and being a handler is no walk in the park either.
It’s a damn shame how many people today disregard the disabled and try to take advantage by cheating the federal system.
I hope that these little known facts about service dogs have clarified a few questions and given you just a little insight to understand service dogs better.
Always remember that it’s crucial never to pet or distract these dogs no matter how cute they are or how big of a dog lover you might be.
Respect that the individual is just trying to go about an average day in their life, and it’s not a unicorn at the other end of the leash, so don’t lose your mind when you see a service dog out in public.