According to the ADA website and sources, a service animal is described as,
“…dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities…Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog 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” (ADA website).
Now, this does not mean that if you have an ESA they aren’t necessary for your comfort, they just simply don’t qualify as medical equipment when in public access places. This is often a question I get asked, “Oh is your dog an emotional support animal?” and I always firmly answer, “NO, she is a medical service animal”. So where are they allowed to go?
“Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go” (ADA website).
This simply means where I go, my Sammy goes with me. Now there are many places where I have chosen not to take her, such as the MRI or CT rooms as there just is not enough room for her to settle down comfortably. Same goes for any other areas which may be unsafe for her or other places where she would not be happy, like a loud concert without ear protection or walking down hot streets without her booties.
So what does Sammy do for you? Sammy is trained to do several different tasks for me, but the ones we utilize the most are leg elevation as well as interrupting my self-harm behaviors (itching, scratching, biting nails, etc.).
Where did you get her? I was gifted Sammy and she was adopted from a local animal rescue at 9 weeks old!
Where did you get her trained? Sammy is completely owner trained! We did a basic training class where I mainly learned to be a good dog owner, and all about her needs. All the remainder of her commands and tasks have been trained by myself.
How can I get a service dog? First of all, it is fantastic that you’re considering getting yourself supports for your life! That is amazing. Secondly, you must have a recorded disability and a well-controlled animal that is not a danger to the public, mainly other service dogs!! It is key people, I cannot stress this enough. Make sure your service animal is safe if you’re working them. Lastly, DO NOT under any circumstance register your animal. There is no such thing as a service dog “registry” and it is 100% a scam. You only need to be disabled and the dog needs to help you with two tasks that specifically assist you with your disability.
Resource: ADA Website- https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm