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Thanks for the explanation, Remaru... that makes a lot of sense. Though I'm not sure that someone still couldn't take advantage by just having answers to those questions, you know? But I suppose you'll have people in all sorts of situations trying to take advantage when they can, not just within the SD realm.

So I have another question... If there is no national registry, and therefore no proof of verification of SD status, then how does one "qualify" for a Service Dog? What sort of process does that entail, and who is performing the qualification?

Thanks for your patience, I find this topic very interesting but I know so little about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #62
Nobody performs any sort of qualification. You just kinda roll with it, is the best way I can describe it. When you have a team of doctors, it becomes pretty apparent what you are and are not. You're disabled if you say you're disabled until proven otherwise, really. The disabled community is not small, but the SD community is. There's a lot of internal policing that occurs.

I have a disability that is sometimes invisible. I can look completely normal one day, and within a few minutes devolve into a useless pile of skin and bone
 

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Thanks for the explanation, Remaru... that makes a lot of sense. Though I'm not sure that someone still couldn't take advantage by just having answers to those questions, you know? But I suppose you'll have people in all sorts of situations trying to take advantage when they can, not just within the SD realm.

So I have another question... If there is no national registry, and therefore no proof of verification of SD status, then how does one "qualify" for a Service Dog? What sort of process does that entail, and who is performing the qualification?

Thanks for your patience, I find this topic very interesting but I know so little about it.
People still can fake. The question you have to ask is, why would that matter? The reason "faking a Service Dog" matters is because it A) endangers my dog, B) makes it harder for my dog to work, C) puts service dogs in a poor light, which means the next time I try to go out with my dog I am going to get harassed because "the last dog that was in here pooped on the floor" or whatever. If some one is going through the effort of training their dog to SD standards and learning all of the laws just so they can pass it as an SD, I don't really care. That is a lot of work to go through just so you can take your pet dog out in public with you. You will find very few people will go through that kind of work, most fall into the "I want to buy a vest and register my dog with a fake registry" category. Which is why educating businesses works.

No one certifies that I have a disability. That is between me and my doctor. There is also a difference between being medically disabled and legally disabled. If I wanted a service dog from a program I would need a letter from my doctor, I don't need that to own a service dog. Imagine you needing a letter from your doctor to walk down the street, drive a car, get married, ect. If I did not own my own home I would probably need a letter for rental, and I might need one to fly with my dog PSDs require doctor's letters to fly (my dog isn't actually for a psychiatric disability but I have one of those as well, I'm pretty open about my disabilities but that is not a requirement either). If I were to have an access challenge that progressed to a court situation I would need documentation to back up the fact that I am actually disabled as well as the time dedicated to training my dog (another reason business education is important, those people flashing IDs and screaming about lawsuits would actually lose in court but businesses have no idea of their rights). The ADA covers the rights of disabled individuals and also defines disability.

http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm
http://www.ada.gov/nprm_adaaa/nprm_adaaa.htm
 

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Since I'm technically new to the SD, ESD issue, I think a national or federally run registry would drive up the cost od SD especially. You would either have to pass some tests or have a professionally trained dog. As it is if you can obedience train your dog then train it to do what ever you need it to do and the dog can behave in public and you have a legitimate disability or medical need you are in...or OK. I see nothing wrong with that.

I agree it is an education thing as far as the work place. Not many know what to do if you come in with a SD. Dealing with the disabled should be accompanied with dealing with the SD, no different than dealing with a wheelchair, walker, or powered cart.
 

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Biggest problem I have with some kind of national registry is that you then basically have to prove you're disabled "enough" to have a SD. According to whomever gets to make the rules. Which, unless they're your doctor, is an invasion of privacy.

Also, you have to think that for a lot of anxiety-type issues having to go get your dog tested (or even having someone come to you) could be hugely detrimental.
 

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Discussion Starter #68
Those of us with owner SDs can get especially rabid about the idea of a national registry type thing. I owner train for several reasons.

Many organizations will not allow you an SD if you have other animals. Especially intact animals. They may make exceptions for things like birds or cats, but are adamant about no other dogs. I will not allow somebody else to further limit me and the things I have in my life. Many orgs only work with certain types of breeds, most of them being Labs, Goldens, Poodles, and mixes thereof. I dislike all of those breeds. I don't connect with them, they garner too much attention from the public, I just don't want one of those breeds. Many orgs require that your former partner be returned to be placed when it retires before you can have a new partner. Big giant NO! I'm not giving up the partner that has served me for 8-10 years. Are you INSANE!? Cost is another issue. I am not comfortable trying to engage in fundraising, especially if I end up not liking the dog.

Things are different when you're not a dog person that is entrenched in several facets of the dog world. Being "just" a disabled person is entirely different from knowing the kind of animal and breed that you like, and things become more difficult still when you are involved in dog sports and actually have knowledge that the majority of SD users do not.
 

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Xeph, you make excellent points. No way is any group getting my dog when I can no longer take care of her or she retires. I've already made provision for her with funding.

While I like most dogs, there are some I'd prefer not to own. I'll not have a dog rammed down my throat just because it is a trained SD. I'll select my partner and train as required. I too have been involved with serious dog sports and working dogs.

You have to question training methods when a person needs assistance and a SD can provide this. I've brought this up at a couple not related discussion groups. Many people are not "dog people" and have no idea of the needs of a dog let alone the bond needed. "It's just a dog" like some kind of tool. There is no love returned to the dog. Maybe the dog doesn't need this, he just remembers the no nonsense training and works out of "fear" for lack of better wording. He gets food and shelter and a place to rest. When commanded he does his job....like a slave or "tool".
 

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Xeph, you make excellent points. No way is any group getting my dog when I can no longer take care of her or she retires. I've already made provision for her with funding.

While I like most dogs, there are some I'd prefer not to own. I'll not have a dog rammed down my throat just because it is a trained SD. I'll select my partner and train as required. I too have been involved with serious dog sports and working dogs.

You have to question training methods when a person needs assistance and a SD can provide this. I've brought this up at a couple not related discussion groups. Many people are not "dog people" and have no idea of the needs of a dog let alone the bond needed. "It's just a dog" like some kind of tool. There is no love returned to the dog. Maybe the dog doesn't need this, he just remembers the no nonsense training and works out of "fear" for lack of better wording. He gets food and shelter and a place to rest. When commanded he does his job....like a slave or "tool".
This really isn't exactly how it works. I am sure it is in some cases but I would say those cases are pretty rare. There are bad programs out there for sure, they tend to fall into the category of turning out poorly trained dogs quickly because there is such a high demand vs turning out dogs that "perform out of fear". As for people who don't know about dogs but want a service dog, that is pretty rare. It takes a lot to live with a service dog. Service dogs are expensive, not just the initial cost of procuring a dog from a program (which can cost easily $15,000 or more) but the cost of then caring for that dog for a lifetime, there are far more durable, easier, less stressful and cheaper accommodations you could find to help manage your disability if you are not a dog person. While many people may not know how to train their own service dog, that does not mean they do not love dogs. A wheelchair will not have an accident in a store, anti-anxiety drugs do not encourage people to point and stare at you wherever you go, therapy does not cause you to have access challenges in restaurants. Choosing to go down the Service Dog path is not a choice to make lightly. Many people wash their dogs not because the dog did anything wrong but because life with a service dog makes the handler's anxiety worse.

I am a little concerned that you seem to think you can choose any dog and just train it to be a service dog. Very few dogs have what it takes to be a service dog. There is a chance that your dog will wash out. Many owner trained dogs do and many more should be washed out but are not because handlers are blind to their partner's faults.
 

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You continue to make good points.

I'm well aware that not just any dog is going to be a successful SD no matter how good of a trainer you are. Just as in competitive dog sports and working dogs many dogs simply can't do the job. It's disappointing after a year or more of intense training to stop and say " Rover just isn't going to make it". Not everyone is cutout to be a doctor or engineer either. But it doesn't mean they need to be put to sleep either. There are many other things dogs can do that please both owner and dog.

My current dog is not cutout to be a SD at all. She is a great support dog as I live alone. I can talk to her and she will listen just like she knows exactly what I'm talking about. She will sit next to me in the truck (with sear belt security) watches intently for deer or other animals near the road, since I don't hear well she alerts at knocks on the door, and sits with me at work, as well as a number of other at home jobs she has to keep her busy.
 

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You continue to make good points.

I'm well aware that not just any dog is going to be a successful SD no matter how good of a trainer you are. Just as in competitive dog sports and working dogs many dogs simply can't do the job. It's disappointing after a year or more of intense training to stop and say " Rover just isn't going to make it". Not everyone is cutout to be a doctor or engineer either. But it doesn't mean they need to be put to sleep either. There are many other things dogs can do that please both owner and dog.

My current dog is not cutout to be a SD at all. She is a great support dog as I live alone. I can talk to her and she will listen just like she knows exactly what I'm talking about. She will sit next to me in the truck (with sear belt security) watches intently for deer or other animals near the road, since I don't hear well she alerts at knocks on the door, and sits with me at work, as well as a number of other at home jobs she has to keep her busy.
Dogs that washout are not put to sleep. When a dog is "career changed" from a program they are typically put up for adoption. Sometimes they are adopted by their puppy raiser, we have a poster here who adopted one of the dogs she was puppy raising when he didn't finish his training. Most programs have long lists of people waiting to adopt their dogs should they "career change". I have known some owner trainers who adopted guide dog puppies that washed and finished them for other disabilities but it really depends on why they washed. Typically they wind up as pets. I recently fostered for my friend's program, the puppy was not suited for service work so he was career changed. I held him until a suitable home could be found. I worked with him every day. He enjoyed playing with my dogs and hanging out on my couch. He is now happily in a loving home with people who understand his special needs. Owner trained dogs that wash either stay with their owners or are rehomed. My first SDiT I placed with a small local program, I was allergic to him or I wouldn't have given him up at all. He finished his training and is with a handler.

I am confused, you posted this

My Aussie just got the doctor prescription for service dog yesterday. It's been a long struggle and I still have some training issues to complete but she is doing fine. This opens a new world for both of us to enjoy.
But now you say your dog is not cutout to be a SD. Are you pursuing making your dog a SD or not?
 

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It's my choice. Recognizing conditions not suitable to SD even though I qualify is one of the things owner/trainer needs to be aware. I don't intend to bring any problems to the SD community. A lifetime of engineering has taught me to look at things as they really are, not necessarily as I want. Sometimes things can be fixed, sometimes the fix creates other problems, and sometimes you admit defeat and start over. It's not easy to accept when your friend simply can't be fitted to the program. Within the analysis I have to look at whether I have the talent to train for this program. I may not, can I admit this? Can I learn? Good questions that I'm working on. Certainly extreme measures can be used but I want my partner to be with me because she wants to, not because she is compelled.
 

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What is the difference between Emotional Support Animals and Companion Animals? It seems in both categories the animal provides emotional support for people and those people are allowed to rent from housing that typically don't allow animals.

Also, I have a situation on my hands. I will try to be discreet. I have a client who suffers from some emotional and possibly mental limitations. I have been told that, in a nutshell, this person's animal is what keeps him/her going. This client is looking to have his/her dog, currently a very young puppy, be a service animal that he/she can take anywhere. He/she does not have any physical limitations that require a true Service Dog, but the client already has the puppy as a companion animal and lives in dorm rooms. I am worried that ESAs won't grant his/her dog the universal public access that the client is seeking. I gently mentioned resources for human help as well, though it was only a passing statement since I am a dog trainer and not a counselor, and my client is very focused on this route for his/her dog. I don't take these things lightly and I hope I can help my client out to the best of my abilities. Training is already harder than normal due to some mental differences between us, but this person has a large heart. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

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To qualify for an ESA you must be legally disabled, your treating doctor must write your a letter stating that you require your animal. Some people skirt this by "registering" their animal but those registries are scams. Sometimes companion animal is used interchangeably with ESA but as far as I know in the US a companion animal is just a pet.

You do not have to have a physical disability to qualify for a service dog. You do have to be disabled as defined by the ADA, however that is true to qualify for an ESA as well. If your client is disabled the next question would be, does this dog have the correct temperament for SD work? Then, what can your client not do for him/herself that a dog can be trained to do? A service dog is not just a well trained pet, a service dog is medical equipment. Providing comfort is what an ESA does, but an ESA does not have public access. So there would need to be specific things that your client cannot do for themself that a dog could do. This can be things like responding to panic attacks and guiding out of public places/to a safe place, medication reminders (this is only a task if the handler cannot remember medication on their own), waking from night terrors, ect.
 

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Thanks for your thoughts Remaru. My client has not explicitly listed any physical disabilities to me. I believe he/she has depression and possibly some mental disorder based on his/her mannerisms, but that is not for me to say and my client can certainly function normally in every day life. I guess I am wondering if there are service dogs trained to assist with more subtle mental problems.

ETA: I've actually talked to my supervisor and revisited the first post in this thread (thanks Xeph!). We will proceed by sending my client the information on the ADA website http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm
And then asking my client what tasks he/she would benefit from the dog knowing. I sincerely hope we can help him/her. Thanks again for this thread and all its contributors! It is vital information and so succinctly worded.
 

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Thanks for your thoughts Remaru. My client has not explicitly listed any physical disabilities to me. I believe he/she has depression and possibly some mental disorder based on his/her mannerisms, but that is not for me to say and my client can certainly function normally in every day life. I guess I am wondering if there are service dogs trained to assist with more subtle mental problems. I will be blunt here... Something like, "Having my dog with me prevents me from wanting to kill myself."
You have to be disabled to have a service dog, depression can be disabling but I do not know if it is for your client. That is between your client and his/her doctor. If you were going to proceed with training this dog as a service dog you might consider requesting a letter from your client's treating physician or therapist stating that your client is in fact disabled (whether by depression or whatever) and that a service dog would benefit your client. The dog does have to be trained in a task or "work" to mitigate your disability, "preventing me from wanting to kill myself" would be providing comfort. That is what an ESA does and honestly that is too much to put on a dog.

"Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually
trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities."

"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."


http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.pdf this is the ADA document on service dogs.
https://adata.org/faq/what-definition-disability-under-ada
Definition of disability
 

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Well I have a post pending in moderation but I essentially linked the ADA and suggested if you move forward that you have the client speak with the doctor and get a letter prescribing a service dog. I am glad that you and your supervisor have found a possible solution.
 

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So I have a question... if service dogs aren't regulated, or registered, then how does one qualify in the first place? I asked similar question earlier and the answer I got seems to indicate that no one actually performs the qualification and A) it's too complicated and B) it's a privacy violation. Soo... I'm just confused. Because the above statement indicates you CAN qualify for one, and there are rules as to what does and doesn't apply... And that your doctor must write a letter stating you require one - but where does the letter go? Who sees it if there is no regulatory authority? It seems a contradiction. Or have I just not had enough coffee yet this morning?

**ETA: I guess part of what I'm wondering is, who enforces these "rules"? (I read the ADA link)
 
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