Debate over definition of service dog

What is a service dog?

“Just because someone’s toy poodle makes them feel good, doesn’t make them a certified service dog,” says Corey Hudson, the Chief Executive Officer of Canine Companions for Independence of Santa Rosa, which trains highly-skilled dogs to help persons with disabilities.

In Sonoma County, it is common place to see the blue-vested dogs helping persons in wheelchairs. The dog goes through a rigorous 18-month training program. The handler is required to take classes on canine care and training. The handler/dog teams are tested by members of the Assistance Dog International, which sets national standards for service dog certification. Once the dog/handler teams pass an access test, they are given an ID card identifying the dog as a “certified service dog.”

But another increasingly common way people obtain a service dog is by adopting a pet, going on the Internet and buying a vest that says “Service Dog.” They then go to Sonoma County Animal Care and Control office in north Santa Rosa, where with little inquiry, a service dog tag can be obtained.

Service dog tags easy to get

It is the service dog tag that allows people to take their dogs to places most dogs are not allowed, like the grocery store or to a restaurant.

One dog has months of training and the other may not know how to sit on command, but both can wear a service dog tag. It’s perfectly legal in California and has been for more than 10 years. But lately, requests for service dog tags have been increasing in many Bay Area counties.

That upsets the people who have spent years creating standards for service dog training programs. Hudson accuses people who get service dog tags for a dog who has had little training of “violating the spirit of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act.) I get revved up about this time again and looking for a way to remedy this. Ideally, we should have an equivalent of a DMV for service dogs,” but Hudson admits adding another regulatory agency amid shrinking state budgets is very unlikely.

Federal law prevents inquiries for assistance dogs

Amy Cooper, Director of Sonoma County Animal Care and Control, says they have little regulatory control over who is getting service dog tags. Federal law prevents inquiring as to the nature of the dog’s service or the disability involved.

Cooper admits her hands are tied. “My understanding is that we at the county can’t require “proof” that the animal performs any specific service duty – and the animal does not even have to be a dog. It is a VERY broad category. We do have applicant fill out an “affidavit of assistance dog owner,” where they declare that the dog is a service, guide or signal dog. We can request, but cannot require a doctor’s note. And they are not required to buy a license for a “service dog.’”

The federal American with Disabilities Act (ADA) trumps state or local regulation of service, guide or signal dogs. Although California penal code does allow for prosecution should someone knowingly claim to have a service, guide or signal dog and not need it. But it’s a Catch-22, animal control officers are prevented by federal law from even asking the very questions that would provide evidence of a violation.

Violating the spirit of ADA

Service dog tags provide access, and the unscrupulous know that.

“Somebody sent me a cut/paste out of craigslist that said if you want to take your pet anywhere in the county and are tired of getting hassled, just go to animal control and tell them you have an assistance dog,” says Hudson. “Our concern has always been who is handing them out and who is getting them.”

Hudson admits not all service dogs need to come from accredited service dog programs. “I have mixed emotions about It. We have no objections to people who have a highly trained dog who have done so privately. Yes, there are going to exceptions. We are creating standards for the greater good,” he says.

The waiting list for a service dog from an organization like Canine Companions for Independence can be one year. A daunting wait to some.

One Sebastopol man, who battles anxiety, relies on his dog to get him out of the house for daily walks. This is a well-mannered mutt who has had no special training. This dog provides a service to this man.

Hudson says the battle over what he calls “well intentioned state law” is for another day.

97 Responses to “Debate over definition of service dog”

  1. Stacy says:

    Wow Charlyne… you really are a sad, angry little person. Good news though! You’ve won your argument! Clearly you have mental issues and need your service dog… so I hope that he/she is allowed to stay with you at ALL times to protect the general public – from YOU and your aggressive attitude! Flybat made open, friendly (legitimate) points up until the point YOU started getting abusive. Threatening ME by saying I shouldn’t go there by appraoching you in public? I assure you… that’s one predicament your little dog couldn’t get you out of. And is someone with SO MANY “disabilities” really threatening violence? Wow… great representation there, Charlyne. Oh wait… that’s right – you would assault me with your words, right? I am all about learning about new things and accepting change, but Flybat was right – every time you throw out “lawyer” or “lawsuits”, your credibility goes out the window. Do you know how many mom and pop restaurants have been shut down because disabled people sue over the lack of access? Even though these are small businesses who simply cannot afford to renovate and keep up with the ever-changing ADA regulations. It is a terrible situation when someone cannot go out and enjoy evening because they of their disability. But at the same time, why are your rights so much more important than anyone else’s? YOU have turned this about you… you say that you don’t spend “time” on blog sites, and yet you wrote over 10,000 words on this blog site alone! The only reason I even came back on this site was to laugh at the response I KNEW you would post. Any you didn’t let me down! I said you were lonely and your continous need to “defend” yourself just confirms it. You aren’t interested in teaching people about “invisible disabilities”… you just want to WIN your argument. Whatever is is. And by the way, I would never go up to someone with a “service” dog or disability placard because I DO know that there are so many unseen disabilities. The problem becomes when people take advantage and have their little dogs in stores or restaurants who aren’t well behaved or there to be of service.

  2. Charlyne says:

    Oh..Stacy…it’s \you\ again! I see you and FlyBat have a lot in common. Good luck with that.
    Yes..you are the one who said my Legal Service Dog is \a little yapper in a stroller\ and my dog is not a \Legal Service Dog\ and you think I don’t need my dog in public with me\.
    And that I’m not \disabled\ ..\just a lonely person who makes my dog my everything!\

    And you think it is not appropriate for me to take comments like this personally, even when you attach my name to comments like this?

    And now you say \I’m an angry person\ because I object to statements like this?

    Well..then..uh..thanks for all the kindhearted \support\ for both me and other disabled people with non-traditional looking Legal Service Dogs!

    Your comments were emotionally violent, unkind, but I see that if I take offence to them..then you think I threatened you with \physical violence\?

    This was quite the opposite actually. I was suggesting you contain your comments, especially if you go around expressing yourself like this to people in public.

    It’s just not a good idea in general to go around insulting people in public to their face…especially if they have a trained dog with them.

    It just isn’t really \safe\ for YOU.

  3. Charlyne says:

    PS..oh by the way, Stacy, FlyBat is now saying he also has an ADA attorney as well…go pick on him.
    I have never threatened anyone with a lawsuit, nor did I say anything like this, on this forum. I said I have an ADA attorney that has coached me in “proper legal behavior” in public with my Legal Service Dog. And that I know my legal rights and responsiblities regarding this …both for myself and for others behavior as well.
    I use my attorney frequently to ask legal questions, to make sure I am within the legal bounds of my rights and not imposing my rights upon others, but am within the bounds of the law.
    If Legal Service Dogs were an imposition to other people, in public…I wonder why the Federal Government allows Legal Service Dogs to assist the disabled in public?

    Perhaps there is a good reason for this that perhaps you are not aware of?

    Or perhaps you are one of the people who have an opinion that disabled people should “just stay home” and not have the audacity to go out in public with a Legal Service Dog?

    Thankfully…most people do NOT share your opinions!

  4. Charlyne says:

    As a professional who has my own business (as well as being disabled) I am a Risk Manager and a business consultant for businesses.
    I provide business consulting services and legal services to “family owned” businesses..so that they can also know the laws that pertain to “proper legal business practices” so they do NOT get “sued and go out of business”.
    Laws now have become too complicated for many small business owners to keep up with all of them and some are at risk of inadvertently not being aware of either ADA or the many other laws in place, for businesses. And..yes..this does place the business in jeprody of being sued and possibly losing their business.

    I actually help businesses with this, with my company and services.
    Thanks for pointing out the risks of small business owners when they operate their businessses, unaware of the laws in place for proper business behavior.

  5. FlyBat says:


    Just so you know..I do support service animals 120%. My saying that you are rude and arrogant…that is not name calling..that is stating an observation of which you project by stating “Oh I have a lawyer!” Why can’t you focus on educating instead of every post that you put up says “Oh I have a lawyer!” People learn when one is friendly..yes there are a “few” people that might need to learn after being prompted by a lawyer after receiving a letter. People would be much more receptive of you teaching about the service dog instead of hearing that you have a lawyer. Service dogs are allowed everyone where a human is!!!!!
    I do know about disabilities as I have several myself. I have had questions tossed at me because I use a interpreter but do you hear me saying “Oh I have a lawyer?” If I did that..I wouldn’t be able to teach the people around me about my rights for having an interpreter present now would I? I firmly believe if you just ignore the hostilities and you just say..my dog is a service dog..here are his papers..if you have any questions; please feel free to ask me!” If you said it that way then you will find it so much easier to get ahead but when you are rude and arrogant, you make it harder for the next disabled person whether it be a disabled person with a service dog or a person that has an interpreter with him/her. Disabled people no matter what your disability(s) is want to fit in but when you throw out “Oh I have a lawyer!” then that makes it hard for the able bodied person to accept the next disabled person.

    You are the one that is calling me Dingbat and you continue to do so after I stated that my name on this is FlyBat …I’m not going to engage you in here but mind you..it not because you have a “lawyer” …it because of the arrogant attitude that you have. Now if you didn’t mean to be arrogant and rude then you would not be calling me Dingbat or BatDung.

    My point is that service dogs are allowed every where that the owner is allowed.
    Because the moderator asked that “We” focus on the subject matter..

    I do hope that in the future you will have more success at educating people instead of stating you have a lawyer.

    Do have a great day and I do wish you a lot more success at educating people when they do have a question about service animals.


    FlyBat a.k.a BatDung/DingBat etc..

  6. Charlyne says:

    I have an ADA attorney. I don’t go around saying that to the general public…I guess you have made an assumption that I do say that??? Well..you misunderstood, as usual.
    I stated that I have an attorney (for the purposes of THIS particular forum debate)who is ADA specialist in that I DO already KNOW my “legal rights”. And the the “advice” you were trying to give me, is inconsistent with the professinal legal advice from my personal ADA attorney.

    ANd..no…it is not necessary to show “papers” of any type when in public with a Legal Service Dog. I have never done this and I have never been asked for this.
    The appropriate person who is in charge of determining if a Service Dog is Legal..is they inspect the “tag” my dog wears. And again..this rarely occurs,mainly I am just asked simply: “is this a Sevice Dog?” And I say “yes he is”. and that is the end of it.

    You just got all up in the air when I mentioned I have an attorney ..got Stacy all riled up too..who jumped to a conclusion that “having an attorney” actually means “lawsuit”. This is normally the assumption from people who do not have an attorney.

    The main purpose of my attorney, is to help me be in compliance with the law, myself…as there are so many “opinions” from non-professionals about WHAT the laws actually say and mean.

    No matter what “you” think…I also suggest that OTHER disabled people..who have trouble accessing public places or transportation, to contact ”
    DISABILITY SERVICES AND LEGAL CENTER at 707.528.2745 to receive FREE legal assistance.
    I do not use this service myself, because I have a personal attorney…

    The disabled with Service Dogs are STILL discriminated against..on public transporation, public places, rentals, and other places.

  7. FlyBat says:

    Oh that is right..I do need to be careful..you have a lawyer and I don’t know anything about ADA law per your so called expert knowledge…I have more experience with ADA law and the law itself in my little pinky then you could have in your entire life.
    I’m done…you hide behind the service dog issue really well.

  8. FlyBat says:

    moderator..in fact plz remove my last comment…I wish not to engage charlynne…not worth my time to engage someone who calls me batdung or whatever.
    Thank you

  9. Charlyne says:

    Dear Sonoma Pets,
    This Service Dog disucussion has been very interesting. What a very wide range of opinions, thoughts and personal comments there are collected here.
    What a controversial topic this ended up being!
    I found it very interesting to read people’s thoughts on this issue, that I would never probably get to meet in person!
    The people that I know, have the same perspective that I do, so this was very educational for me to see there are so many people here locally that think differently than I do.
    This probably kind of wraps up this particular discussion here.
    Thank you for supporting freedom of expression for everyone, regardless of their communication style or personal bias.
    This has been entertaining..to say the least!

  10. Theresa says:

    Hi all, Can anyone please tell me if you are allowed to have more than one assistance dog per disabled person?
    I cant seem to find anything about this online.

  11. Charlyne says:

    Why don’t you call Disablity and Legal Services (the phone number is above in one of my posts)and ask them. They have attorneys who know ADA laws regarding Service Dogs.
    They will probably be able to answer that question for you (at no cost)and receive a professional answer.

  12. Margaret says:

    Your doctor neds to sign and state that you “require” two dogs (whatever) due to your disability…that should cover it.

  13. Mary Byrne says:

    I need a small dog to help me with My anxiety attacks
    Any information on that?

  14. Charlyne says:

    Yes.www.psychdogs.org is a wonderful site for legal and logistical information on using Service Dogs for this medical problem.
    Ask your doctor for a letter (can be very short) to perscribe this solution for you. The go to So.Co. Animal Control to get a legal tag for the dog. The dog also needs to have a current rabies vacine and you need to bring this with you as well as the doctor letter, as well as a short, physical description of the dog. (you do not have to bring the dog to get the certification.)
    However, it sounds as if you do not yet have this dog? The website above discusses everything you need to know and be responsible for.
    Proper behavior of your dog in public is very important. You are legally allowed to train your own dog.
    This website is very clear and specific as to what “proper behavior” means.
    Having a small Service Dog in public can be a challange on several levels. I have found that although my Service dog is of “medium size” he has short legs and many times people in public do not look down to see him. I do not want him injured or stepped on.
    You can legally carry your dog, put him in the top of a grocery cart, with a blanket or carrier, or have a dog stroller for him if this is helpful for you.
    You are not legally required to buy a dog Service Vest (as the tag is sufficient) however you can buy one online and by doing this, it helps other people realize you are with a Service Dog and will probably be helpful in this area (to reduce unhelpful confrontations or questions.)
    You do NOT need to “carry papers” around to show to people, and you do NOT have to “discuss your disablity” (although you may be asked this by people who don’t know that.)
    You might want to be prepared when you are first out in public with your Service Dog to be confronted, either by uninformed people who work in public places, or the general public themselves who do not know that ALL types of Service Dogs are legal, and I am saying this to you because you said you have anxiety attacks.
    Reading this website (above) will explain this much more.
    However,if this is helpful to you, about 99% of any interactions I have had in public with other people have been incredibly positive, kind and helpful.
    Good luck with this, truly..and I hope after you have your Legal Service Dog you will post again and share how this has helped you.

  15. Charlyne says:

    Website about what to do when confronted with a Service Dog:
    http://sdog.danawheels.net/whattodo.shtml This is a very helpful site as it advises the disabled with Service Dogs what to do and NOT do!
    Website for buying a Service Dog tag:http://www.servicedogtags.com/service_dog_tags_c.htm?gclid=CNm_qcvXs6ECFRP_iAodY32-_g
    If you google Service Dog Vest or tag you will find many suppliers. Most of these sites will also give you legal information and other tips on how to be in public with your Service Dog.
    However..it is not mandated by law that you buy any of these items, (the websites will say this), it just makes is easier for a disabled person to move about in public without being hassled, denied access, or embaressed or treated rudely in public.
    As the handler of my own Legal Service Dog, I have elected to NOT buy these additional products, but you might want to read about this on these sites to see if this would be helpful for you.

  16. Charlyne says:

    Every assistance dog team will be confronted at one time or another when trying to enter a public place. Many of these confrontations are minor, some are more confrontational, and a few will be the business flatly denying you access. It is my hope that this page will help you minimize ALL types of confrontations, and to have the resources available to gain access to ANY business, whether they want you there or not.
    Yes, I said, whether they want you there or not. A friend of mine, who runs an organization that educates about service animals gets many calls from businesses trying to find out how to keep out assistance dogs. Yes, that’s right, owners are trying to figure out a way to keep you out of their businesses. The law IS on your side, you have the right to be accompanied by your assistance animal, whereever you go. Many business owners, however, are ignorant to the fact that the law allows you to have your dog with you. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but with the right tools, you can almost be guaranteed access.

    Things To Do
    1) Dress your dog.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act says that you do not need to dress your dog, and that’s all well and good, but dressing your dog in a vest, harness or backpack, makes your dog look different than just someone’s pet.

    Dress your dog according to your disability. If you have a hearing dog, put your dog in an orange vest. If you have a seizure disorder, dress your dog in a vest or backpacks. If you use a wheelchair, you may want to use a harness or backpacks.

    2) Walk into the business like you belong there.

    If you walk into a public place, with your head held high, and with the expectation that you will NOT be stopped, most likely, you will not be bothered. This isn’t an absolute rule, because I’ve gotten stopped even though I walk into places expecting NOT to get stopped.

    3) When told, “No Dogs allowed!”, answer with “This is my Assistance Dog.”

    Many people do not understand what a “Service Dog” is, so while the term “service dog” is what is written in the law, “assistance dog” is much more descriptive.

    4) Only two questions may be asked.

    Only two questions may be asked of you. “Are you disabled?” Answer yes, and do NOT be any more specific. The person asking does not have the right to any other answer than that. You do not have to disclose your disability. “Is that a Service Dog?” OR “Is that an Assistance Dog?” Once the business has been informed that you are disabled, and that your dog is an Assistance Dog, they should leave you alone! If not, politely tell them so. You do not have to answer any more questions.

    5) Carry the ADA (just the service dog part), and your state laws with you.

    If you are confronted, and the person will not allow you access, even after you’ve explained your dog is an assistance dog, show them the law. Most of the time, this will be enough to allow you access.

    6) Call the police.

    If the business still refuses access, call the police. Show the law to the police and demand that you be let in. Don’t ask, demand. It is your right to be allowed into any public business, with your Assistance Dog. And it’s the police officer’s DUTY to enforce all the laws, and uphold your rights.

    Things You You Should Not Do
    There are several things that you can do that may make your access into a public place easier, but will cause problems for any teams that come behind you. Please do NOT do these things unless you explain that YOU are doing them, because you WANT to, and that the next team does not have to do so.

    Even so, many business owners and employees will expect the teams that follow you to do exactly what you did, no matter what you tell them. It’s better to NOT do the things below, for all of us.

    1) Show ID

    By showing ID, you are giving the business the idea that ID is required, when it is not. Showing ID makes it impossible for the person with NO ID (because they are training their own dog), to gain access.

    2) Stop at customer service and tell them you’re bringing an assistance dog in.

    You are giving the business the idea that they have the right to expect every Assistance Dog team to stop at customer service to let them know they are in the building. The business doesn’t require this of someone who is black, or who wears glasses, or who uses a wheelchair.

    3) Showing papers documenting your disability.

    It’s no one’s business but your own that you are disabled, and the law states you do not have to show documentation or certification to be allowed into public places.

  17. monica says:

    I work for a retail store and we allow service animals. My problem is people that come in with their pets and have a fit. I have no problem with a dog that is assisting anyone with a disablity. But here is a question does the dog that is a companion not a service animal but a companion considered a service animal by law and should they be allowed? To me a companion dog is the exact same as a pet. My animals are my companions but they are not service animals. I hope this makes sense.

  18. Charlyne says:

    This is confusing. The terms, “assistance”, “service”, “companion” dogs are mostly interchangable. (CCI..actually stands for “Canine Companions for Independence,” an organization based in Santa Rosa which trains dogs for a variety of service related issues including hearing impairment.

    According to ADA laws, the handler of such a dog must be “disabled”. By simply asking the person with the dog “are you disabled?” would probably simplify this for you.

    Most retail stores have a written policy. Have you checked with the store you work for about this?
    I went to Ross Dress For Less the other day with my Service Dog and got stopped by management. She said if my dog is NOT a “Service dog” I may NOT have him stand on the floor..but I may carry him or put him in the shopping cart. But IF he IS a “Service Dog” he may stand on the floor.
    (I do not understand the logic of this particular store rule/policy…)but I sometimes experience different “rules” in different types of public places)
    So..this would mean that Ross DOES allow dogs in the store that are NOT “Service Dogs” but they have a different set of “rules” for each type of dog.

    This is confusing for the handlers, as well as other shoppers and probably management.

    In Healdsburg you will notice that dogs are welcome in stores etc, and even provided with dog cookies and water bowls etc. (not just Service Dogs, but dogs in general)

    It seems that dogs that are not Service dogs are also welcomed and encouraged at retail stores at Montgomery Village.
    Exchange Banks keep dog cookies for their dog customers (not just Service Dogs) and has done so for many years.

    So..it seems the general attitude for dogs in public, here in Sonoma County have relaxed a bit.

    “Churches” by the way do NOT have to obey any ADA laws at all…even with Service Dogs. They can “allow or not allow” and they can make up their own rules.

    The church I attend allows Service Dogs and “emotional comfort dogs” to be in church, but they have to be on the floor. You may pick them up in your arms, but only if you are standing up. It is not allowed to pick them up if you are sitting down on a chair.

    When shopping with my Service Dog, I am allowed or encouraged to put my dog in the top of the “shopping cart” on a blanket.

    So..there are ADA laws, there are different store policies and rules.

    Even though I have researched ADA laws and actually retain a Law Firm and have an ADA attorney, the local rules and customs are confusing for me.

    Years ago, when I first moved to Santa Rosa, I had a dog that was NOT a “Service Dog”, he was a “Pet Therapy Dog” with the Humane Society. I was out walking him downtown Santa Rosa on public streets. The Wednesday night Farmers Market was happening that night. As I walked down 4th St, on my way home, I was stopped by 2 police officers and demanded I leave the area immediately or I would be arrested.

    So…store policies regarding dogs..Service Dogs or just “pets” are widely varied.

    If I owned my own retail store, I would probably consider the fact that the nicer you are to people, the more they will want to shop there.

    Even though I now have a Legal Service Dog…I tend to shop where I know I will be welcomed and treated kindly.
    So…in the end, I have learned that it is just a “judgement call” most of the time, for both retail employees as well as for myself and my Service Dog and have found that mutual respect and kindness are by far..the guidelines I follow as well as appreciate in return.

  19. pancakes says:

    I worked for an airline for a while and during the training for working at the ticket counter, we went all through the ADA. The airline was so afraid of being sued that we were just supposed to ask,”is that your service animal?” and if the answer was yes, let em on. When I say animal, I mean any animal. The lady teaching the class specifically mentioned monkeys.

  20. sarah says:

    I think it’s wonderful that service dogs are being more widely recognized for disabilities that may not be physically visible. I think animals help bring comfort and support to people, wether you have a disability or not. Some people just need a little confidence to do normal day to day activities. I think a lot of people who might be obese or have social anxiety would be a lot more likely to go on walks, or got o the dog park, etc if they had an animal to walk to give those walks “purpose” or to make them feel more secure. I know that I don’t like to walk by myself, but when I walk my dog I will walk more often, and for longer periods of time because I’m “exercising my dog”, and i always run into people who want to pet my dog, or ask questions about her. My dog is very well behaved, and has had quite a bit of professional training. I have contemplated getting her a service dog tag. My dog makes me excited to go places, and do things that I would otherwise feel uncomfortable doing. I tend to get anxious and uncomfortable in social situations when i don’t know other people, and my dog is a bit of a security blanket. When people see my beautiful dog they light up and want to socialize with me and my dog. It is reassuring and comforting to know she is there, and when I walk her by myself i feel safer knowing that I have a dog by my side. I wish more people would realize that a dog doesn’t have to be trained to open doors or pick up objects to be of service to someone, and that an emotional support dog is incredibly beneficial and helps people break down barriers that no amount of medication or counseling can do. My dog gets me out and interacting with people, and improves my quality of life. I think it’s reasonable to have to exhibit a certain level of obedience to keep others safe around your dog, but they don’t necessarily have to be trained the same as a dog from canine companions, and it’s not easy to get a dog from them, and they only offer large, hairy breeds of dogs. My dog is a thin coated Cocker Spaniel, and I don’t think I would want a golden retriever that sheds like crazy, takes up a lot of room, and is difficult to travel easily with.

  21. Ariel says:

    I am thankful to Charlyne for all of your information on service dogs. My dog is a little chihuahua/min pin mix who was a rescue because I fostered his mom and she was pregnant. I am training him myself and I get stopped, glared at and all kinds of things.
    I got kicked out of grocery outlet the other day bc they said unless I had my papers or a tag on my dog, I could not be there.
    I decided enough is enough.
    He is an emotional support dog for PTSD as well as a seizure alert dog for partial seizures.
    Some people don’t understand that this is a whole process to train your dog yourself and you need to expose them to everything.
    I am grateful that I can go get a tag at Animal Control so that there are less problems even though he is not fully trained for his duties as a service dog yet. He is however very well behaved.
    So, I guess to give my two cents, the whole contemplation of whether other people should be frustrated that they paid money and got a highly trained service dog whereas I am training him myself, I believe that both are legitimate and that emotional disorders even as simple and yet as extreme as major anxiety/depression/agoraphobia are reasonable for a service dog. I know it is harder to get them certified through an agency-since you have to prove through the agency that they can actually “do” something. I thought I would have to train my dog to recognize my seizures, learn to get my phone, create a way for him to inform others if I needed help etc. before I could get a tag. That made going places and socializing my dog difficult since I didn’t know if I could be legitimate to take him places before he could do all those “tasks”.
    I am very grateful for animal control acknowledging that if I have a disability and I have a service animal- I can get a tag. Then I can take my “puppy in training” so that he can get really socialized as part of the early training process.
    I also see that just because I have a disability such as epilepsy, other people have debilitating mental/emotional disorders and there should be no judgement with that either.
    I am on federal disability, but even if I get off bc I am able to get a job again-that does not take away my need for my service animal. In fact, he is helping me get there and be more independent.
    I want everyone to know that I believe and understand invisible disabilities since I have three- the other at this point is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and people do not realize that disabilities come in all shapes and sizes.
    If someone believes they need a service dog and they are able to deal with difficulties in their life that otherwise denied them the ability to deal with everyday stuff, then they need a service animal, and the certification requirements for some dogs cannot always show or prove that the dog is incredibly vital for that person and their ability to function.
    I think that is a good way to put it. A disability is something that interferes with your everyday life in such a way that you are not able to participate and function fully in such ways that others can. This dog helps to do that.
    Then they are “service” animals.
    Thanks, and best of acceptance to all of you.
    There are always people who misuse every possible loophole we have to do get what they want. However, the number of people who are helped, and the true difference it makes in their life is more important to me than some people abusing the system. Strength to those with invisible disabilities. Support from others with invisible chronic illnesses is great too.

  22. Ariel says:

    I also agree with you about how each person with a service animal can help others to not be hassled by stores etc. if they do not always do the “proof” aspect right away.
    I personally am going to get cards that talk about service animals and the etiquette for stores etc. so that I can help train owners and stores etc. to leave others with service animals alone and treat them with respect.

  23. Charlyne says:

    Thanks Arial,
    This weekend I was in a kitchen store at Montgomery Village, (no food being served) with my Service Dog. One of the clerks stopped me and said none too kindly “you HAVE to pick up your dog off the floor!”
    (he is too big to carry!) I said “I’m sorry, I am unable to do that-I am disabled!”
    She snapped back “well ..how was I to know!”
    All I have to identify him is his So. Co. Animal Control tag, which is sufficient…but it’s kind of small.
    When I get treated rudely, it is always an upsetting event for me. I have resisted buying a Service Dog vest on the internet due to the cost, and it is not legally necessary, but I am beginning to re-think this.
    If I had a “vest” for him, this would help uninformed and sometimes rude, store clerks to be able to “idenify” him as a Service Animal more easily…and save me unpleasant interactions like this.
    (I left the store without my purchasing what I had specifically come to buy)
    Dog Vests can be purchased online at different online stores for different prices. One online store will make a tag for you and your dog with the ADA laws printed on it, as well as your photo. All this isn’t necessary “legally”…but it’s very disturbing to be treated as a second class citizen that doesn’t deserve polite treatment.

    ANd I think it is just too much to “expect” for every store clerk to be trained in either ADA laws or polite behavior!

    We who are disabled have enough going on already without having to deal with confrontation and embaressment in public and there just are times I want to be able to attend to my errands and don’t feel like “educating” store clerks.

    I will call the management of ths store to report this unpleasant incident..but if I did this on a regular basis..it would just turn into a “time consuming job”…and really …I just want to live my life, be happy, and be treated kindly!

    So…if you can afford to buy a vest to mark your dog, in addition to the So.Co. official “tag” (which is free)…this may make life easier for you.

    Good luck to you.

  24. Jeff says:

    Thanks Arial and Charlyne,

    I have a little shih tsu who has been trained to be my service animal, and he always wears his vest.

    However, on two recent occasions I was left in tears after being verbally abused. Most recently I was basically
    “thrown out” of a restaurant the when the staff stated they do not allow dogs in their establishment.

    They demanded to see my papers, which I didn’t have at the time. Thus, I now have the laws for my state printed out to show anyone who has a problem with this.

    Thank GOD for our service animals!

  25. Granny says:

    Charlene, we’ve all pulled out of a parking space, only to see ahead someone who is perfectly healthy and able to walk, take a parking spot for the disabled. It’s called gaming the system. When I was a server in Bodega Bay, we had a patio. We would have the most untrained ridiculous dogs on our patio and the owners would look us square in the eye and say that they are a handicap dog. they have a very general certificate(if that) and that’s it. Meanwhile the “service dog” is molesting all the customers around them, trying to beg, and bark at them. this is why sales people look at you that way when you don’t come in with all your vests and other geer….sadly this is a society that can get a plaque for being 20 lbs overweight. Meanwhile an ALS patient drives around and around, looking for a space. It makes me sick! If you eat fries,sugar & burgers all your life & now you’re ill: own up to it and don’t put it upon others. That’s why people like Charlene have to go through this. We should go after the docs who hand out these plaques.

  26. scott says:

    I was completely aware of these facts regarding service dos.Now i definitely go towards a lot of detail about them.

  27. Pam says:

    I am a pet owner and a restaurant owner. My dog is a “Therapy Dog”, but she does not come to the restaurant because I would be in violation of the Health Codes. These days anyone can put a vest or tag – purchased online – on their pets and declare them a “Service Dog”. So, now I have pitbulls, chihuahuas, akitas, rottweilers,shih-tzus, etc. coming in who are very obviuosly NOT trained service dogs. If I ask the owner to take their dogs out onto the patio, they scream at me and threaten to sue me. Then they tell me that they take their dogs to schools, hospitals – so they can take them anywhere. That is a “Therapy Dog” and they are not allowed in restaurants or grocery stores. But most of these dogs are not even that. This fast-growing group of people who think they must take their doggies everywhere with them have ruined it for the truly legitimate service dogs. Because of these people I have customers complaining and leaving. Many are allergic or fearful of dogs. I’ve had dog fights, constant barking, dog poop, marking, kids crying, customers yelling at me to get the dogs out, and one local business had a customer severly bitten in the face by a “service dog”, which resulted in a massive law suit to the store. But if these people have these “tags” on their pet, the A.D.A. says I have to let them in or they will sue me. Since people are abusing a law that was supposed to protect those who truly needed assistance, there now needs to be strict regulations put into place to protect business owners and other customers. If anyone reading these comments is guilty of what I have described above and your dog is not a highly trained “Service Dog” and you do not truly need your dog with you (be honest), then shame on you for ruining for those who do.

  28. Charlyne says:

    wow..your restarant sounds like a lively and friendly place to come with all the dogs too! Would you mind telling what restaurant this is..so we can come? It sounds as if your place is constantly filled with dogs all the time and many people would so enjoy this experience!
    By the way..the specific breed of dog does not mean anything regarding if it is an Assistance Dog or not. That is old fashioned thinking that no longer applies. People who are legally disabled and their doctor has perscribed an Assistance Dog can now legally be “owner trained”.
    (I believe it is a felony to pose as a disabled person if one is not) I wonder how many people really go so far to risk this?
    If your customers are screaming at you and threating to sue you..this sounds like a “rude person” problem more than a mis-behaving dog problem! (smiling)
    By the way, even if someone is legit disabled and their dog is a legit Assistance/Service dog…according to law you can still ask them to leave if their behavior is inappropriate. You mention constant barking, dog fights and poop etc…this is legal grounds for asking a disabled person with a Service dog to leave! (you didn’t know this?)
    As to “many” people being allergic or fearful of dogs…I find this not to be actually true..it is mostly an excuse.
    I have a non-traditional ASsistance Dog and I am disabled and everywhere I go…I have people pretty much standing in line to pet and talk to him. The people I have found to “get enraged” at a Dog in a public place are people who simply “think” that someone is breaking a law or “trying to get away with something” and this does upset a certain type of person and they do tend to get extremely vocal and aggressive about this.
    Legally, a Service dog does not NEED to have a marked “vest” or marking, but I find if I do use the Vest…then the “angry” people tend to quiet right down and are then reassured that nobody is “trying something”.
    Hope this helps!

  29. Pami says:

    I take my service dog to church with me! But the Churches are exempt from the American with Disablity Act (ADA) But to be able to take a service dog to church they must know all basic training and be able to do a TASKS! AND MUST HAVE UNIFORM ON ANY TYPE AND A BRIGHT COLLOR ON. And people are not alowed to pet the service dog. Also you need to have a doctor note and then ask the pastor if you can bring the service dog with you. And you must let the dog go potty right before you go into church and dog can’t keep getting up. Must be by your feet or under chair or bench. Also make sure dog had a small drink of water befor going in to church. To get service dog vest and patches go online to Raspberry.com or Pup’parel.com look at both website before buying any thing. Churches can also say what breed is allowed only in their churches even if its a service dog.
    Good Luck! After your get SD Vest and patches on to take SD in to churches.
    Make sure your dog has had a bath twice a month so dog don’t smell. Service dogs can’t smell out in public or they can ask them to leave same goes for churches.

  30. Erin says:

    I understand both of these arguments quite well. I make every effort to be a “good citizen” dog owner, but not all folks with the tag are as polite.

    My dear friend constantly shocks me with her abuse of the law. Lots of people are uncomfortable with animals in restaurants so I don’t usually bring mine in and just sit where I can see her. Common courtesy. If I have an anxiety attack I can just step outside to where she is parked on a parking meter or something. My pal, however, brings her dog in, has it jump up on the seat next to her and feeds it from her plate! No wonder customers get freaked out. Kids and babies go to sleep and crawl around on those seats. Ick!!! She’s not arrogantly ignoring the rules, just oblivious. Not surprisingly, it’s caused problems in our friendship. FYI…we met at a dog park, before either of us had tags!

    Lastly, I’ve traveled a lot in Europe and dogs are EVERYWHERE. But they are all very calm and the owners are conscientious. Too bad politeness can’t be imported….

  31. Kathryn says:

    I feel all service dogs, cats, birds, what ever, should have to wear a vest proving they are real service animals. Animals that don’t wear the vest should be turned away! They should also not be allowed to be placed in a grocery cart. Food is placed in these carts.

  32. Amber says:

    I Have a 4 month old puppy who I am making a Service Therapy dog It is not because I want to bring her everywhere it is because I have some depression and she helps me with that but it also because I want to take her into hospitals and nursing homes to see if she can bring some joy to peoples lives because that is what I love doing. I want to respect people and I won’t bring her into grocery stores or restaurant or anywhere that sells food because I know I wouldn’t appreciate it but I would like to bring her most places so she can get the experience and meet new people. Yes I did by my service dog patch and tag online but that was a responsible decision because I have trust that she will not do anything bad considering I started training her when she was 3 weeks old and she only stand 8 inches tall and she will probably only grow another inch because she is a Chug, chihuahua pug mix. She is very loving and loves people to death I think that she will make a great therapy dog. Please comment on what you think. Remember she is not mainly for my purpose she is to bring joy to others lives.

  33. Amy says:

    I am trying to find the information on whether a disabled person can have more than one service dog. My cousin lives with me, receives SSI, and has been declared permanently disabled by the Federal government.

    She has a huge list of medical illnesses. We first trained her Shih Tzu to retrieve her epipen in case of allergic reaction, which by the way can completely cut off her airway in seconds, because she cannot always get to th epipen. He is also trained to wake her up if her oxygen machine shuts off due to power outage. She does not take him out in public as a service dog.

    She now is having problems with being lightheaded and needing a bigger dog to help stablize her when she is walking. We have a 2 yr old lab that we are training for that.

    So can a person who is medically disabled (has been for 10 years) have two service dogs that preform two different services?

  34. Charlyne says:

    Answer for Amy:
    It is not illegal to have more than one service dog, but it is unusual. There would need to be a compelling reason why one dog was not sufficient. In the past there have been some “huggers” (people trying to find reasons to take beloved pets everywhere) who came up with the grand plan to train each dog different tasks to justify having multiple dogs. But that doesn’t fly. The person would have to be prepared to prove to a judge, if necessary, that one dog just couldn’t do all the tasks.

    I know of one instance where a person had a rare bone condition and she needed a steady forward pull on both sides in order to reduce her risk of injury just from walking. That could not be done with one dog.

    So it’s not illegal, because nowhere in the ADA does it state how many you can have. It’s all based on reasonableness: is it reasonable to have two in that specific situation?

    The other possibility is that some people keep a backup service dog. They might rotate out which dog works on a given day, but both dogs are trained to do the same thing. This ordinarily would not be noticeable unless the person was traveling. I know an author who does extensive traveling on speaking tours and she found she needed two service dogs because her lifestyle was so grueling she had to swap them out so they could rest and recuperate. But she only ever had one in public with her at a time except while traveling from one engagement to the next.

    She doesn’t actually have to explain to you what she uses her service dog for. That is discussed in the ADA. A business can ask what the dog is trained to do, but a private citizen has no business demanding an answer.

    —– edited to add —–

    HIPAA has nothing to do with it at all. And the ADA does permit businesses to ask what the dog is trained to do. If the dog is not trained to do something to mitigate the owner’s disability, then it is not a service dog and the business need not admit it to the premises.

    “Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability.”

    That, however, is different from a curious bystander asking questions that really aren’t their business. You wouldn’t go up to a total stranger and ask them why they’re missing half their face or why they’re in a wheelchair, so what makes it okay to do just because their assistive device is a dog instead of a mechanical tool? It’s up to the business to ask if they have a concern about it. Otherwise it is no one else’s business unless the presence of the dog directly impacts them, in which case they complain to the business.

    For more information about the ADA as it pertains to service animals, the US Department of Justice maintains a toll-free information line to answer your questions at: (800) 514-0301

  35. GordaLoca says:

    As my posting name implies, I’m a large woman with a psychiatric disability. I found this article via a Google search and am saddened both by the rampant abuse of California Assistance Dog tags and the way the comments on this article degenerated into a bitch fight…no, wait, that’s an insult to well-behaved female dogs!!

    I’ve had to become super-vigilant when shopping at a neighborhood Ralphs store because while people who bring dogs in ARE asked, “Is that a service dog?”, they are NOT asked, “What has the dog been trained to do to assist you?”. They aren’t asked to show California Assistance Dog tags, either, and no one I’ve seen has bothered to get one. I emailed management about this, and was told, in so many words, that they’d rather allow pets than risk legal action. Consequently, many of the elderly people who live in low-cost Senior housing nearby freely bring poorly-trained, badly-behaved pets into the store, and aren’t asked to leave even if they violate the law by both claiming that their emotional support or pet dog is a service dog and by interfering with the use of an ACTUAL service dog or service dog-in-training. Several such dogs have pursued my SDIT relentlessly whenever they’re in close enough proximity, pulling vigorously in his direction, and I’m left with no choice but to cue him to look at me as we get away from them as fast as my cane will carry me.

    San Diego County issues California Assistance Dog tags, too, but what’s not understood is that because they were SUPPOSED to be issued by EVERY county, using a common registry (to avoid duplication of registration numbers)and uniform design (which would make it necessary for there to be oversight on a State level), and THIS LEGAL REQUIREMENT WAS NEVER MET, the tags are, from a legal standpoint, without merit – useless. Because business owners and service providers don’t know this, owner-trainers (and some pet owners) snap them up (I am guilty as charged). In San Diego, though, the application requires the applicant to not only identify the type of assistance dog their dog is or is being trained to be (guide, signal [hearing assistance], or other type of service dog) but also state what tasks the dog has been or will be trained to perform. That it’s illegal to ask this doesn’t prevent San Diego County Department of Animal Services from declining to issue the tag if the applicant states that their requesting this information is illegal rather than providing it (doing this doubled my wait for one from two weeks to a month; I provided it in the name of expeditiousness). I wish laws stipulating the use of the tags would be abolished and state law be rewritten to allow common sense to dictate whether a dog whose handler claims it’s a service dog or service-dog-in-training is allowed based on their behavior, but I don’t expect that to happen. Most counties have never bothered to issue the tag because the legal requirements for doing so were, as I’ve said, never met, so I guess I should just be grateful that I live in one that does, even though if the truth were known it would be useless.

  36. robin says:

    Hello everybody, I am new to this discussion about getting service dog tags and everything. But as I’m reading through this I can’t help but notice there’s a lit of bickering goin on here. I, whether its of any value to you or not, am a Marine. And having been through my fair share of things find it increasingly harder and harder to be around a lot of people. There have been times when I’ve actually had to leave places that I felt to crowded for fear of becoming violent. Was I able to get myself out of the situation before it got out of hand? And the answer is quite simply, yes. But, also having been diagnosed with a string of things service related, I do not have a “service dog”. Some people feel that they need a service dog when in reality they don’t. Could I or others with the same issues as myself benefit, probably. But its not a necessity by any means.

  37. Susan says:

    OMG These laws are way too broad. Somedays I too need a little emotional support, I think I’ll bring my dog with me and call him a service dog. Are we kidding!!! If i am disabled and want to park in a disabled parking spot I have to have a placard. Why don’t we just let anybody who says they are disbaled park there? Service dogs should be legally and clearly marked. Thjat way there will be no questions.

  38. Alan says:

    I agree that there should be stronger regulations and guidelines. As a business manager, I am frequently faced with customers who wonder why they can’t bring their pets in when several “SD”s of all makes and models, with and without vests, have been allowed in. It is a major dilemma for business owners and managers. We want to do the right thing, and are afraid to challenge what appears to be a “fake” situation because we don’t want a law suit.

    I agree with Susan- even though there is widespread abuse of parking placards, at least someone is watching. The ADA says that a service dog (yes, it must be a dog,) is not a pet. It is a working animal specifically trained to perform a task that assists a disabled person who cannot perform that task himself. Also, the ADA does not recognise “emotional support” as a legitimate task. But just try to ask the legal questions, or try to get unruly and badly behaved “service dogs” removed from your place of business, and you hear the threats of lawsuits echoing off the walls. We are quite simply in a no-win situation.

    I agree wholeheartedly that the fakers bring dishonor to the legitimately disabled, and I don’t like to see it. I don’t like to see fully able-bodied people park in handicapped parking spaces even though they don’t need them. And I don’t like to see a pet owner claim their doggie is a service dog, just because they want to bring their pet everywhere with them. It simply makes it impossible for businesses to have any control over animals in their stores. (How would you feel about placing fresh produce in a shopping basket if you knew there had just been a dog in there?)

    I love dogs, cats, animals of all kinds. I’m crazy about them. But I feel no need to bring a pet into a restaurant, any more than I feel the need to bring my cell phone into a movie theatre. Are we all so self-centered now that we do whatever we want to do, just because we want to, with no regard for the effect on others?

    There must be more control to stop the fakers, creating less hasseling of the truly disabled who have a real need for a well-trained service dog.


  39. ruthh putnam says:

    in my opinion not just dogs can be a service animal and it should be looked into to expand it. I live in an apartment where no dogs are allowed under any circumstances. I know that my manager would have to except a dog for my dad if it was to be a service dog but im disabled myself and dont want to have to walk the dog or bend down too much. I now have a guinea pig who im training to be a calming agent for my dad during transitions as he was moderate dementia. He enjoys the guinea pig waking him up and enjoys holding her in his lap. I called to inquire about this and told that only dogs can be certified and there are no exceptions and that the dog has to perform a service and what i was describing wasnt a service. I respectfully disagree but it sounds as if there is nothing i can do about this

  40. il gato says:

    Wow, I have been looking into the service dog issue (I have two dogs, neither of them service certified and neither of then will be). I work at a restaurant and watch people abuse the service dog issue all the time. I only got through a little bit of the posts here because they were making me sick… But the other day we had a lady sit at the bar at the restaurant, where drinks are made for consumption, and she put both of her service dogs on a bar stool. Not only was it a violation of California health code to have an animal in an area where food/drinks were being made for human consumption, but it took up a bar stool. What would have happened if a paying bar patron wanted to come in and use that seat??? Do you think that the lady would have given the bartender a much bigger tip because her dogs took possible tip money away? And, another guest who was sitting next to the dogs mentioned that she should put her dogs on the floor and the lady got into an argument with the other guest! She argued that they were HER service dogs and SHE could take them wherever she wanted and then commented that she paid a lot for them. WTF?! Firstly, a disabled person is only allowed to have ONE service dog. Secondly, the ADA states that an establishment need only admit the dog, leaving the establishment to allow where the dog is allowed. Thirdly, the ADA states that dogs which are there for comfort or emotional support are not service dogs – maybe if you have such issues you should consider how your issues affect the other patrons around you. Bottom line is that if you are disabled – or not, and have a fake service dog – you need to abide by certain rules which are not stated by the ADA: bring your dogs, as we love them, but behave just as we expect your dogs to behave. If a service dog is out of line, we can ask you to remove it. If you act the same way, you should expect to be 86′d too, with or without a dog. And, most importantly, places built and designed for people are made for people, not dogs or whatever other animal you decide is cool to be of your service. The admittance of the animal is a courtesy, so don’t be a douchebag. I wonder what it would be like if I could bring in a service tarantula or anaconda into a restaurant? Would I be able to have it on my lap or eat off my plate? In closing, there is a reason why service dogs are service dogs: they are smart and are loyal. We bred them to be that way.

  41. il gato says:

    And I have to make a comment on my own comments – you can have ONE service dog unless you can prove, in a court of law, that you need more than one. Having two Chihuahua’s in your purse doesn’t cut it.

  42. Louvenia says:

    An earlier post mentioned the ADA plaquard is required to park in a handicapped space, but no such requirement for service dogs. I am leaving a hotel tomorrow because a person has brought in a pitbull, poorly behaved, many complaints about the woman handling the dog- NOW the woman claims it is a service animal. I spoke to the manager and was told quite openly that because of potential lawsuits, she would be staying for 3 more days. They were afraid to ask her the questions allowed by law. So, I am leaving. I had guaranteed I would be here for another month until my new home is complete. They are making the arrangements for my my move to another of their locations, but I could not in good conscience recommend this place to others. Shame on the people who lie about disabilities and game the system. I will be working to modify the law on this issue. Businesses should have the right to confirm that the service dog is legitimate.

  43. Holli says:

    I would like to clarify some valid points that have already been made. Just for the sake of organizing information.

    1. There ARE dogs who serve those who do not have physical disabilities. And these service dogs may be any size, from small to extra large to complete their job. Psychiatric service dogs are used to prevent meltdowns, disruptive and destructive behavior in children with Autism, to prevent harm or anxiety attacks in War Vets(or anybody) with PTSD, to detect, prevent or resolve anxiety attacks in people with Anxiety disorders and even sort hallucinations from real objects or people to assist those with Schizophrenia. Additionally dogs CAN be trained to detect glucose levels, and alert handlers to a dropping blood sugar level, as well as to detect coming seizures for people with Epilepsy. Not all dogs who serve handlers without physical disabilities serve those with Psychiatric disorders.

    2. A dog does NOT have to be trained by a professional to be certified as a Service Dog. However, misbehaving dogs and their handlers may be kicked out of businesses, regardless of their status as a service dog.

    3. Inquiries in the nature of the service the dog provides, and the necessity of the service is forbidden simply to avoid embarrassment or unfair judgment of those with psychiatric problems who do require a service dog’s assistance. As a teenager with an Anxiety Disorder, and a tendency to launch into panic attacks, I cannot express how necessary my service dog is. She prevents me from harming myself and others in times of extreme distress, she guides me when I am in a state of confusion and obsession, and she breaks me from spells of absence from reality. And although she was trained with the help of a professional dog trainer, she was greatly trained at home, by me and my family. She is not a small dog, however a small dog could perform her job and daily tasks just as well as she does. I went through a long battle with my local school system to allow her in classes with me and onto school campus, and eventually we did have to threaten a lawsuit. I cannot explain how helpful this rule is to me, because people DO treat you differently when they learn you have any kind of psychiatric disorder and sometimes even the thought or fear of unfair judgment frightens and triggers people with psychiatric issues.

    4. There is a massive difference between Emotional Support animals (Animals that serve as basic companions, or perform smaller tasks not necessary for everyday life in public, without the rights of service animals)and Service Animals. Some people do not know where to draw the line. But a nice rule of thumb, if you cannot function easily or safely day-to-day without the service the animal performs, that animal is a service animal.

    Overall, I cannot claim to know everything, or to be right because I’m biased. However I feel that psychiatric service dogs are just as valid or necessary as seeing eye dogs, or signal dogs.

  44. mai güdness says:

    i have a service animal for my diabetes. she lets me know when my sugars are getting too high or low. i obtained her through a customer of my fathers. she was given to them because the previous owner had passed away. when they heard i was in need of one, they gave her to me. Bella is certified and has been trained. she is a lab, springer spaniel 50/50 (or springador/labradinger whatever). she is a great dog in addition to how helpful she is to me. i call her my assistant :D

    i had a run in with a fake serive dog on a train once AMTRAK. I had to also call ahead and make prior arrangements and let them know i was traveling with her and i didnt mind telling them what for, yes diabetes isnt a visually physical disability but its a pretty serious disease and i wish i didnt NEED to have this poor animal help me all the time. i would rather her just be a pet, but that is not the case…
    so my assistant and i were walking through the train, car by car, trying to find our seat. we came through one car, and this dog I dunno what kind it was, started growling and tried to get shitty with my dog. my dog, being trained, ignored it and kept following me.

    it just irritated me because, yeah i am getting pretty mad at people trying to just bring their untrained, unsocialized pets in public who are potentially harmful to my worker.
    could you keep that in mind next time you people wanna be selfish? cause if your shitty dog hurts my medical assistant (basically, she has a pack on her vest that carries my testing supllies and medications) your PET will be euthanized and everyone will be unhappy and a dog, or dogs, will have been killed because you wanted to bring your pet in the store, or on the train in this case, because you were selfish. thats just what the law is gonna do all on its own whether or not someone were to press charges. Leave pets at home!

  45. Sgt Joseph laFrance (US Army retired) says:

    I’m a disabled Iraq Veteran with my service dog “lucky” for PTSD and mobility I’m training him myself since the VA stopped funding service dog programs. Without him I would have ended up in jail more than a few times which I almost did, when I was a cab owner I was taking a break and a couple of drunks came up and needed a cab when I told him I was on a break that they could take the one behind me they started all kinds of stuff and when he started towards me I went to “combat mode” and had a knife to his throat , luckily it was over before the cops showed up, I decided to sell my cab and seek help at my local VA and was diagnosed with PTSD and was written a letter requiring a service dog , it changed my life , I’m now retired and training him to help me , they do a service for us veterans as well as other people with disabilities. Which is more then I can say for our do nothing government . He wears his vest and we haven’t been harassed at least not yet. And as far as earlier posts, he’s a pitbull/ American bull terrier mix and is 9 months old , it’s the owner not the breed on how they inner act with people and other dogs.

  46. Scooder says:

    The fakers, the self-absorbed narcissists, are really mucking up what was intended to make life easier for those with difficulties absent their working dog. This last weekend two elites fresh from their dancing horse riding session, still wearing identical riding knickers and jackets, seats still damp with saddle sweat, strolled through the farmers market with a miniature collie (?) with green “Service Dog” vest on. The dog was pulling in one direction as its owners were headed in another. It was on a retractable leash, for cripes sake, amidst dozens and dozens of folks trying to walk through the market w/o tripping over a leash, which I have nearly done twice. Last year I overheard two women while at the farmers market, both complaining that they were chased out of the market with their fluffy lap dogs, discussing how they’ll just buy a vest on line and come back. I called them out on it, and the look on their selfish faces was priceless. They were struggling to find the words, like the kid with hand in the proiverbial cookie jar. This is what happens when dealing with SELFISH narcissistic personalities. Selfish people suck.

  47. Jennifer says:

    In response to those who say that they can not see a reason to bring your service dog into a restaurant, please remember that you do not have to fully know the purpose that the service dog is providing the disabled person in order for the service dog to be legally allowed in the public place. Please be respectful and do not demand explanation from those who are disabled and have a certified medical service dog. That being said, I can say that my son with autism greatly benefits from having a service dog in any public place. When he is tethered to the dog it keeps him safe from running away from us or getting out of the building into a dangerous situation. It also allows us to tend to him appropriately as he has an anchor which follows us. This way I don’t have to constantly be clinging onto him, which is very upsetting for him. The service dog is also an emotional support for his over sensitive system allowing him to reference his calm, soft companion who is a constant for him in ever changing overwhelming surroundings. In a restaurant the dog can lye down under the table, at his feet, available for him to reference to whenever he needs. I hope that my story can be helpful to those who are looking to be educated in additional ways a service dog can provide quality life for the disabled.

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