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An article that was written in the SF weekly is about a service dog that snarls can be found here

http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-06-17/news/service-with-a-snarl/1

After reading the article I checked out a website that will certify that your dog is a service dog by a person just agreeing that there dog meets the standards and then paying them money. I had always thought that having a dog certified as a service dog took a lot more work than just a few mouse clicks. Apparently I am wrong.

While this article talks about one so called service dog there seem to be a lot of people abusing the system. By the definition of service dog standards this particular dog does not meet the requirements to be a service dog but it seems that all this person did was get a note from his doctor and had the dog registered as a service dog with the city of San Francisco not even requiring the dog to be tested.

So why is it harder to have a dog registered as a therapy dog and so much easier to have a dog registered as a service dog?. I had Lola registered as a therapy dog recently and it took a lot of work on my part to train her. This allows us to go into nursing homes, hospitals, libraries and wherever else therapy dogs are welcomed and only at the times that the establishment allows.

A service dog is allowed unprecedented access to any and every type of establishment there is and anyone can have this done by just a few mouse clicks. It seems to me that there needs to be some kind of legislation done and that only the people that truly need a service dog should be able to have one. Along with that there should be some kind of federal laws regulating service dogs and require them to be trained and tested by a licensed evaluator.

Want to see how easy it is to register a service dog with just a few mouse clicks?

click this link http://www.servicedogsamerica.org/certification/index.html

then scroll down and check the box. All you have to do then is proceed to payment. Seems ridiculous to me.
 

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i could probably get my dogs to be considered service dogs due to my bipolar and that they keep me stable and are my constant companions. I know someone whose cat is considered part of her treatment so she was allowed to bring the cat to a no pet building to live. SHe doesnt bring it everywheres with her. The cat is there when she gets down and she pets her and she feels better after a bit.
 

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Is that really all it take???? Wow... I.. wow really? Can someone confirm this?

I know at most stores, all they can ask you is "Is your dog a service dog" and "What does he do?" and they can't deny you if you say anything romotely sounding right.

Wow... um.. yeah...
 

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I do not believe it is that simple everywhere, but it is a shame that it is some places. While I do not discount the value of service dogs, there HAS to be regulations set in place. People wait YEARS AND YEARS to get a REAL certified service dog, and without regulations, this totally undermines the extremely hard work that service dog trainers and all other people involved (like foster families etc.) do. It also gives REAL certified service dogs a bad reputation and could jeopardize their unlimited access in the future.

What a shame.
 

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Because not all services performed by dogs can be trained. Some dogs have the ability to do things, such as detect oncoming seizures or the persons blood sugar and alert that person that something isn't right. In these cases the dog is attuned enough to their human that it detects small changes in body chemistry (probably through smell) and frets to call attention to them. Remember that the owner is liable if the dog bites someone and you can have the the person leave and take their dog with them if it acts out of line.

Let's also remember that this has taken place in San Francisco and that's a pretty 'liberal' town, in most places it takes more to get a service dog certified.
 

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i could probably get my dogs to be considered service dogs due to my bipolar and that they keep me stable and are my constant companions. I know someone whose cat is considered part of her treatment so she was allowed to bring the cat to a no pet building to live. SHe doesnt bring it everywheres with her. The cat is there when she gets down and she pets her and she feels better after a bit.
This is NOT correct.

You could get your dogs to be considered Emotional Support Animals, which would allow them in no-pets housing. That just requires a doctor's letter stating your disability and that they are part of your treatment plan (basically).

To be a service dog, a dog must be trained to perform tasks or do work. Emotional support, being a companion isnot a task. See Grill v. Costco (2003 (I think) in Oregon.) Additionally, the partner must meet the LEGAL definition of disability (this is NOT the same definition as used by SSI/SSDI/military disability/etc.). And many folks who HAVE an impairment may not have it to the level that meets the legal criteria for disability. (For example, my dad is 'legally blind' without glasses, but does not count as disabled because he can correct it with glasses. My friend M is legally blind without glasses but her vision cannot be corrected by glasses because of the specific condition she has.)

Now, there ARE SDs for folks who are bipolar. I know several. But they are all trained to do various tasks, and 2 of the 4 I know are partnered with folks with multiple disabilities- bipolar alone is difficult to find tasks for. (So is regular depression, even major depression.)

Cait (wearing her work hat)

Because not all services performed by dogs can be trained. Some dogs have the ability to do things, such as detect oncoming seizures or the persons blood sugar and alert that person that something isn't right. In these cases the dog is attuned enough to their human that it detects small changes in body chemistry (probably through smell) and frets to call attention to them. Remember that the owner is liable if the dog bites someone and you can have the the person leave and take their dog with them if it acts out of line.
A lot of these aren't holding up well in court, though. The ones that are are trained primarily to RESPOND ot the medical condition and the alerting is a 'bonus' task.

I do not believe it is that simple everywhere, but it is a shame that it is some places. While I do not discount the value of service dogs, there HAS to be regulations set in place. People wait YEARS AND YEARS to get a REAL certified service dog, and without regulations, this totally undermines the extremely hard work that service dog trainers and all other people involved (like foster families etc.) do. It also gives REAL certified service dogs a bad reputation and could jeopardize their unlimited access in the future.

What a shame.
Service dogs are NOT required to be certified under the ADA, and "Certification" doesn't make a service dog a 'real' service dog. Being trained to do tasks or work for a person who meets the legal definition of disabled IS what makes a service dog a service dog, full stop.
 

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Let's also remember that this has taken place in San Francisco and that's a pretty 'liberal' town, in most places it takes more to get a service dog certified.
Not according to the website I provided earlier. I think that they are talking about nationwide on how easy it is and not just for SF, CA.

https://www.estoreserver.net/ssl/servicedogsamerica/certification/index.html

All it takes is a person to check the box at the bottom of the page on the link I provided, send your money to them and they can declare your dog a service dog that will allow anyone with a service dog access to wherever they want to be including flights on planes.

You might want to check it for yourself this time to see what I am talking about and it is not just in SF as your implying. Your right that SF is very liberal but who would even question a persons disability if they are accompanied by a service dog in SF or anywhere else for that matter. Do you questions peoples disability when they park in a handicapped parking space?

I am sure that some people abuse that privilege also but abusing a handicapped parking privilege is not going to cause a physical injury such as a dog that clearly does not meet the guidelines of a service dog but is a service dog anyway. The person in the article lied about the dogs training and anyone else can also since there is no regulation on how a service dog is certified.

Now I can go out and buy a police uniform, badge, night stick, hand cuffs, gun and make my car look like a police car pull someone over and be charged with impersonating a police officer along with other charges because there are laws against that. If I were to spend the money from the site linked above I can have Lola certified as a service dog and go anywhere I want with her and there is no law against it. I could bring her to a place of my employment (provided I was employed) and anyone at work would just have to deal with it. My employer could not even question it. If I bring in a doctors note for being absent it just has to state that I was under the doctors care it does not have to state what my illness was and the employer is not allowed to ask as it is against federal law for them to do so as it is called HIPPA act.

Not that I would do that because I would not feel it is right but the people that do just that are giving the people that really need service dogs a bad reputation.
 

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The US Department Of Justice, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, defines clearly what is considered "disabled" and what a "service dog" does. Yes, someone can go to the scam sites like service dogs america and many others to get "certified", but their claim would not hold up in court. It is nothing but a way to scam money from the gullible and dishonest.

There are three questions that can be legally asked by employees of a business of a person who has what appears to be a "service dog" when in the public venue:

1. Is that a service dog?
2. Is the dog required because of a disability?
3. What mitigating tasks/work is the dog trained for?

If the person cannot answer the questions as set forth, then the dog can be excluded. The simple presence of the animal is not a task or work under the terms of the ADA, so just having "Binkums" with them to "keep me calm" is not an acceptable answer.
If ANY service animal acts in a disruptive or threatening manner (excessive barking, growling, urination/defecation, lunging, raising hackles, jumping up on things/people, and many other actions), the handler can legally be asked to remove the animal.
The trouble is, the businesses/cities/municipalities are so afraid of an access denial lawsuit that they take no action, thereby endangering the general public by allowing a disreputable person to claim "service dog" status for their untrained, ill mannered, unvaccinated mongrel. In our experiences, the local law enforcement agencies dont have a clue about what the ADA says concerning legitimate service animals. We have given a couple of informational seminars to the local public safety and sheriffs departments, which have been gratefully received.
Until the local authorities start abiding by what the DOJ has on the law books in regards to service animals, the kind of actions and behaviors as stated in the article will continue. Education is the key, and only when that fails, then legal action can be taken against those who are "faking it". We have done that already with one fake service dog here in our town. It just takes perseverence.
 

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Now I can go out and buy a police uniform, badge, night stick, hand cuffs, gun and make my car look like a police car pull someone over and be charged with impersonating a police officer along with other charges because there are laws against that. If I were to spend the money from the site linked above I can have Lola certified as a service dog and go anywhere I want with her and there is no law against it. I could bring her to a place of my employment (provided I was employed) and anyone at work would just have to deal with it. My employer could not even question it. If I bring in a doctors note for being absent it just has to state that I was under the doctors care it does not have to state what my illness was and the employer is not allowed to ask as it is against federal law for them to do so as it is called HIPPA act.
Not QUITE true. Schools and employers fall under Section 504, which is different than the section of the ADA that gives disabled individuals access to public places (malls, transportation, stores, restaurants). Schools and businesses can require more documentation than just someone in public, because of the length of association. They can't (as a rule, with some exceptions) require certification, but they CAN require proof of disability and MAY suggest an alternative accomodation.
 

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Remember that the owner is liable if the dog bites someone and you can have the the person leave and take their dog with them if it acts out of line.

Let's also remember that this has taken place in San Francisco and that's a pretty 'liberal' town, in most places it takes more to get a service dog certified.
Actually, the article says the opposite is true. It cites an incident where someone in a wheelchair tried to apply for housing. The landlord informed the person that dogs weren't allowed. The person stated that the dog was a service dog. The owner simply asked for paperwork stating that fact. The person in the wheelchair left and sued the guy and won.

I think if you can get a service dog certification over the Internet, it's shady. I could get Brutus certified. What service he provides would be questionable, but surely there's someone out there who wants drool on their counters or who can't dump their trash cans by themselves right?
 

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That landlord was in the wrong for trying to deny access, HOWEVER if a certified service dog acts in an innapropriate manner it can be removed. The safety of the public always comes first. Service dogs are expected to behave in a safe manner in public at all times.

Lola's Dad, that site is a scam site. It's not that easy to get a dog certified and anyone usi g that site to certify a dog could be in some serious trouble.
 

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Actually, the article says the opposite is true. It cites an incident where someone in a wheelchair tried to apply for housing. The landlord informed the person that dogs weren't allowed. The person stated that the dog was a service dog. The owner simply asked for paperwork stating that fact. The person in the wheelchair left and sued the guy and won.

I think if you can get a service dog certification over the Internet, it's shady. I could get Brutus certified. What service he provides would be questionable, but surely there's someone out there who wants drool on their counters or who can't dump their trash cans by themselves right?
The case in question, IIRC, the dog was actually from a school- the guy just felt like he shouldn't HAVE to provide papers or something- it was a weird situation. (I'll dig up the citation when I get home. The dog WAS a SD though, which is why the guy won.

Thhe thing is about sites like that is that I *DO* know people with legitimate SDs who have used them because they think certification will cut down on their access problems. Is it smart? No. But it's not technically illegal.

NOW, if someone who is NOT idsabled goes and buys that certificate, yes, that's illegal. It's fraud. :) It's like the fake ID-for-entertainment-only - if you buy one as a gag gift, you're okay, but if you buy one and use it to buy beer, you're in trouble.
 

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I watched a short documentary about this last year, and there are people trying to makes the laws more clear. One of the problems is that in some places there either are or there soon will be bans on breeds other than dogs. This is a problem because there are legitimate service animals that are other species. For instance, the use of miniature horses is growing in popularity for blind people.

Part of the problem is a lack of legal distinctions between service animals and therapy animals. Service animals are animals that have been trained to perform a task or tasks. That's pretty much the only difference. But a lot of people argue that some animals that help mentally disabled individuals (and people can be legally disabled because of a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, etc.) are service dogs, not just therapy dogs. So the lines get very blurry. Part of the problem is because it's hard to define "task." As I said, the animal must perform a task to be considered a service animal; but it gets tricky when people try to say "oh, that's not a task" about dogs for mental disabilities, because sometimes the services they perform are tasks, if not in the traditional sense of a seeing-eye dog, etc.

I think it's important not to discriminate and assume all people who have a therapy animal for "emotional" or mental reasons are bogus. There are people who have a legitimate need of an animal to function. The best legislation would be something that required the animals to pass a test certifying that they are totally safe and well-trained in public situations. Something like the canine good citizen test.

EDIT: I just read the rest of the article (posted by the OP) and see now that the proposed legislation that would allow only dogs to be service animals was indefinitely postponed in "late January."
 

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Ref the landlord requiring paperwork, I don't think it's that unreasonable a request. If his rule is no dogs allowed and his insurance company comes along and wants to up premiums, such paperwork on file might save him some money.

The thing is it's all extremely loosely defined. If I own a restaurant and I deny someone access because their service dog is vicious, then I can be sued under the ADA. Yet, if I allow them access and the dog bites someone, I can also be sued for allowing a dog I knew to be vicious into my restaurant. I'm screwed either way.
 

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The task issue is made MUCH MUCH MUCH more complicated by a person who is very prominant in the PSD (psychiatric service dog) community who believes, caselaw to the contrary, that emotional support is a task, and is education her groupies that this is LEGALLY correct, when it's NOT. (BTW? "Mentally disabled" is kind of an insulting term. Mentally ill is okay, psychiatric or neurological disability is better.) And a lot of doctors read the information put out by the person mentioned above (she has a very snazzy brochure) and then give out incorrect info to their clients. Emotional support is not a task under current law. Period. (However, there ARE legitimate tasks for psychiatric disabilities, including grounding, guiding to exits when a handler is in the midst of a panic attack, mitigating med side effects, etc.)

Some important information about why guide horses are dangerous: http://guidehorseno.com/

And there may be legitimate service animals of other species but they're VERY few and far between. The only reputable program I know of placing monkeys with quadriplegics places them for in-home use only due to the disease risks, and theirs have their teeth removed in order to be safe as working animals! (Ick! I am a big fan of 'no undomesticated animals for service work outside the home.) I've met a cat that alerts to seizures, but public access training would be impossible for essentially all cats. And the only other 'service animals' I've met of other species other than that one cat have ALL belonged to people who thought their therapy animals had special public access rights, which they don't, or that emotional support was a sufficient justification to call an animal a 'service animal'.


The line between therapy and service animals is PLENTY clear. A service animal works for their handler and does work or performs trained tasks to mitigate that handlers disability. PERIOD. A therapy dog has no legal definition- it's defined entirely by orgs like TDI, Delta Society, et al.
 

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Service dogs are NOT required to be certified under the ADA, and "Certification" doesn't make a service dog a 'real' service dog. Being trained to do tasks or work for a person who meets the legal definition of disabled IS what makes a service dog a service dog, full stop.
Is their any guidance on what constitutes 'being trained to do tasks'? ie, independently trained or tested requirement? I assume the tasks must relate to the disability? Or is that basically the extent of the rule, and its up to a judge to decide if the disability, the training and the tasks meet the definition or not in any particular case?

Some dogs have the ability to do things, such as detect oncoming seizures or the persons blood sugar and alert that person that something isn't right.
Not only is this doing poorly in the courts, but also poorly in the world of science, take a look at http://landofpuregold.com/the-pdfs/wagthedog.pdf

This is a 2007 paper by the American Academy of Neurology, reviewing all work on alert dogs to date. It concludes:
the current literature fails to support that canines can warn of impending seizures
IMHO, limiting how service dogs are defined, as Dogstar described, makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, without such limitations you end up with too many people calling their dogs 'service dogs' to the ultimate disadvantage of truly disabled persons, the people service dogs were meant to help in the first place.
 

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I just did a quick search on my city's web site to see what it defines as service animals. There doesn't appear to be any regulation defining exactly what service animal is (again, this could be because the site is incomplete or because I'm not looking properly). The only regulation I found was that service dogs that have been trained to perform a certain task are not subject to licensing fees. I would assume that TDI certified dogs would not fall under this category, but that a seeing eye dog would. I'm not clear on this.
 

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I just did a quick search on my city's web site to see what it defines as service animals. There doesn't appear to be any regulation defining exactly what service animal is (again, this could be because the site is incomplete or because I'm not looking properly). The only regulation I found was that service dogs that have been trained to perform a certain task are not subject to licensing fees. I would assume that TDI certified dogs would not fall under this category, but that a seeing eye dog would. I'm not clear on this.
The law you're looking for is federal, not municipal. Start with the ADA (where the right to reasonable accommodation for a disabled individual) is set out and then look at the CFR to see where the stuff that specifically applies to service dogs is.

Now, the ADA only applies to fully-trained SDs. Cities and states can grant ADDITIONAL RIGHTS (ie, allowing dogs in training public access, free licensing, whatever) but nothing less. So Oregon can say "guide and mobility dogs in training may have public access" (but PSDs wouldn't); MO can say only dogs in training with a program may have public accesss, California can say that any dog in training may have public access if they apply for the proper ID tag from their local animal control office.


Is their any guidance on what constitutes 'being trained to do tasks'? ie, independently trained or tested requirement? I assume the tasks must relate to the disability? Or is that basically the extent of the rule, and its up to a judge to decide if the disability, the training and the tasks meet the definition or not in any particular case?
It's all in caselaw, which is part of the problem, but honestly I *do* think the law being vague is a good thing, because it allows innovation and legitimate dogs who ARE task trained but maybe not traditional tasks can be brought in. NO ONE would have thought of seizure response dogs in the60s or 70s but they're definitely real, trained, and totally valid. So are REAL PSDs. (by which I mean task trained for an individual who actually meets the definition of disabled- that's part of the tricky part with psychiatric disabilities, the vast majority of folks diagnosed with them do NOT meet that definition.)

The seizure alert thing came up a few days ago- there's just not much research, PERIOD on how accurate the data is. No large scale studies have been done.
 

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The task issue is made MUCH MUCH MUCH more complicated by a person who is very prominant in the PSD (psychiatric service dog) community who believes, caselaw to the contrary, that emotional support is a task, and is education her groupies that this is LEGALLY correct, when it's NOT. (BTW? "Mentally disabled" is kind of an insulting term. Mentally ill is okay, psychiatric or neurological disability is better.) And a lot of doctors read the information put out by the person mentioned above (she has a very snazzy brochure) and then give out incorrect info to their clients. Emotional support is not a task under current law. Period. (However, there ARE legitimate tasks for psychiatric disabilities, including grounding, guiding to exits when a handler is in the midst of a panic attack, mitigating med side effects, etc.)

Some important information about why guide horses are dangerous: http://guidehorseno.com/

And there may be legitimate service animals of other species but they're VERY few and far between. The only reputable program I know of placing monkeys with quadriplegics places them for in-home use only due to the disease risks, and theirs have their teeth removed in order to be safe as working animals! (Ick! I am a big fan of 'no undomesticated animals for service work outside the home.) I've met a cat that alerts to seizures, but public access training would be impossible for essentially all cats. And the only other 'service animals' I've met of other species other than that one cat have ALL belonged to people who thought their therapy animals had special public access rights, which they don't, or that emotional support was a sufficient justification to call an animal a 'service animal'.


The line between therapy and service animals is PLENTY clear. A service animal works for their handler and does work or performs trained tasks to mitigate that handlers disability. PERIOD. A therapy dog has no legal definition- it's defined entirely by orgs like TDI, Delta Society, et al.
In response, I was using the term "mentally disabled" specifically in the context of a discussion about disability. I do not use this term in any other context, and I think the use of it in this context is appropriate.

As far as the term "task" goes, I think it's wrong to insist that it's an entirely unambiguous term. Yes, "emotional support" is not a task; but therapy animals who provide emotional support can and do often perform tasks, such as the ones that you mentioned. This makes them, by definition, service animals. The problem is when the "task" provided is debatable, which is often is. For instance, peppy264 is debating the use of seizure detection dogs as service animals, which I think you would disagree with. So I think it's important to acknowledge that, as much as we might individually think that the definitions are clear-cut, among different people there are disagreements.

I looked at the site that you provided about miniature horses as guide animals, and I don't think it's very professional. "Article #1" is basically one woman talking about how her own horse wouldn't be a good guide animal. She talks about how he spooks, and how that wouldn't be good if he were guiding her; but spooking is a behavior that horses can be trained not to do. Think about horse cops. Those horses go through extensive training to make them virtually unflappable. They can calmly walk through a rioting mob. I think one woman (who is not a professional guide animal trainer, from what I gathered) and her opinion about her one horse are not grounds for a dismissal of all equine guide animals. I skimmed the other articles and found them to be equally insubstantial.

I do want to say that I don't particularly support the use of horses for guide animals. I just don't think I've seen any information as of now that would make me believe they are unsuitable.

I know I'm disagreeing with you about the above, but overall I think we agree on a lot of the issues. Generally I've liked what you've written. I just don't think it's quite as black and white as you'd like it to be, because people are people and they will disagree.
 

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To be clear I only questioned seizure alert dogs, dogs which magically know a seizure is coming before it happens, not the seizure response dogs who are trained to respond to a seizure. According to Dogstar, seizure response dogs are well established and I have no reason to doubt it.
 
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