Response to a Veteran

[A comment was made on one of the posts of this blog and my reply got long. I thought it might be of more general interest, so I’m making it a post for any here to see.]

A reader said:
“You are full of crap if you were to read the ADA and what it says about service animals there are only two on the list. One the dog and the other is the miniature horse and only if it is house trained to relieve it self outside. ADI wants everyone to believe that they are the only ones that can pass or fail a dog so it can the full monopoly on the entire world to be the only organization that is qualified to train and test a service animals qualifications. They already own Europe so why not give them America as well. Considering we the veterans that served our nation should have nothing to say about our animals and the help they give us. Again the ADA states clearly that only dogs and mini horses make the cut and then only if the mini horse is house trained.”

My Reply:
“There are several things to be addressed here.

“First, most members of the general public don’t know what ADA says, and the majority don’t even care. They have no idea that a snake is not a service animal. Yet snakes have been passed off as service animals! As of 2012, the ADA has revised requirements for service animals. The Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals set separate requirements for the mini horse, and does not support the wider public access permissions a service dog does.

“Second, given the numbers of companies that are selling service dogs with little or no attention to what a service dog should be, some kind of guidelines need to be in place. A company that has been training guard dogs for years, then decides they’d like to get into the service dog business has no clue about service dogs. Service dogs are an entirely different thing. Similarly, the person that wants to hang a vest and patches on their pampered little darling or their guard dog and call it a service dog is giving service dogs a bad name. A well-trained service dog will not growl, bark and certainly not snap or bite. “Service dogs” trained by guard dog companies can be problematic in this regard. Many dogs trained by their owners also have difficulty in this regard. The public access test is supported not only by ADI (Assistance Dogs International), but by IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners) and by Pet Partners (formerly know as the Delta Society).

“Third, I don’t know what your problem is with ADI. It started in the US in 1985 with trainers of Hearing Alert Dogs and Hearing Alert Dog training/placement organizations getting together and agreeing to certain basic standards. [This is similar to any professional organization start-up. The members start it, the members set the standards, and the members enable the standards. Medical and Nursing professional organizations are like this – and they set the standards and guidelines for practice in various specialties. Architects and Engineers have the same kinds of organizations. Many of the organizations, if not international in scope, have collegial relationships with similar organizations across the world.] In a short time, ADI grew, and decided first to formally affiliate with the Delta Society and a couple of years later to formally affiliate with Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu). In a short time, ADI grew, and decided first to formally affiliate with the Delta Society and a couple of years later to formally affiliate with Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu). See the ADI History page on their website.

“IAADP was started by people who used service dogs – the assistance dog partners themselves. It, too, grew in scope and became international. I know a bit less about Pet Partners, except that they support the public access standards needed to ensure public safety and public access for assistance dogs. ADI has done very good work. Their members provide various kinds of assistance dogs (Guide Dogs, Mobility Assistance Dogs, Hearing Alert Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, Medical Assistance Dogs, and PTSD Assistance Dogs – probably others that I’m not listing). The ADI, in my opinion, is filling a needed gap/niche.

“Fourth, as a user of an assistance dog, I can input my needs and concerns to PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assistance Life Services) which provided both my Mobility Assistance Dogs, and through IAADP – which meets jointly with ADI and maintains a close relationship with ADI – after all, it is the assistance dog partners who are the people who need and use the dogs provided by assistance dog providers. (I know, that sounds redundant, but I have been up with serious pain since 4am and I’m not a coherent as I would prefer.) PAALS also provides Service Dogs for Vets.

“Fifth, Veterans can, should, and do have a lot of say as to what help their dogs should give them. When obtained through a legitimate service dog organization, the vets, like any recipient, are interviewed extensively about what they need. If they want to train their own dog, they are certainly permitted to do that under ADA. There can be a problem with public access and poor behavior on the part of the dogs not tested for public access. This would not be a problem if those training their own service dogs understood the need for the specific behaviors needed for public access.

“The Public Access Test is published on the website of ADI, and IAADP has a page that discusses various aspects of the public access test. If your home-trained dog can pass all items on the test, plus 3 specific items it needs to do in public for you, I see no problem.

“The needs of Veterans, while somewhat different from those of other citizens, are being met by member organizations of ADI. As I am seeing it, the main problem is the vast need and the limited number of organizations and limited availability of appropriate dogs. It takes a special dog to become the service dog partner of a Veteran. Not every dog is qualified to become a service dog – of any kind – much less for a Veteran. As one among many organizations, however, PAALS is providing service dogs to Veterans with various needs. If you need one, I hope you get one soon!”

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Service Dog Certification — Spotting Fake Certification/Registration/ID

Many people are going on-line and getting fake “service dog” certification or ID cards or some kind of “registration.” This is an EXCELLENT article which shows how to spot fake ID / registration / certification.

http://servicedogcentral.org/content/fake-service-dog-credentials

Taxi Drivers Refuse Seeing Eye Dogs Entry

I wonder how all these US taxi drivers can get away with refusing to accommodate service dogs? Any other group of drivers would be fined heavily, and the taxi companies would be fined heavily and required to give training in the ADA laws and regulations. But this ONE group of people get away with it.

And another, related, problem is that in many cities the vast majority of taxi drivers are Muslim. So taxi after taxi after taxi either speeds by without picking up a person with a guide dog or a service dog, or refuses the dog, necessary to the passenger, entry into the taxi. Some people documented in the referenced article have had to wait over 3 hours to get a taxi to get home – often in inclement weather.

Why doesn’t the Federal Government and local police enforce the ADA law and regulations? No time? too much money? The IRS goes after even little people who owe less than $1000, but the ADA ignores blind and disabled people’s rights under the law?? We ARE talking about a significant minority group here – the disabled.

Service Dog Etiquette [reprise]

Emmy gets my dropped cane for me

[I am reposting this, with some additions / revisions from my old “Waiting For the Woof” blog. The ADA Law and Regs have changed a little.]

I recently read some information about service dog etiquette that makes a lot of sense.

Since not everyone knows about service dogs, not everyone knows about service dog etiquette.

First – a service dog is not a pet! A service dog has at least 2 years of intensive socialization and training behind him and is an expert in what he does. Most have been bred from working dog stock and not only thoroughly enjoy, but need to work.

A person who has a service dog has a very well-trained working dog. When you meet them, remember that the dog is working. Don’t interrupt it.

Always speak to the dog’s partner first, and always ask before beginning to interact with the dog.

Don’t pet the dog or make noises at the dog without permission of the dog’s partner.

If the partner says, “No,” then the answer is, “No,” and simply agree with it and go with it. It has nothing to do with you, it has to do with the service dog and his duties.

Never offer food to a service dog! This will distract him from his job. It can even cause injury to the disabled partner.

If you encounter a service dog in training or a puppy in training, ignore it! At this stage of training, they are easily distractible and can have a whole day’s training lost if interfered with.

It is impolite to ask the partner about his disability. If you are intrusive enough to ask such an invasive question, do not be surprised if the partner refuses to discuss it. The partner is not being offensive – he just doesn’t want his privacy invaded any more than you would.

Business Owners

If you are a business person, you may not prevent a person from bringing his service dog into your establishment with him. Both Federal and State laws specify that service dogs are to be permitted into any business or location where other members of the public may go. Even clinics or hospitals usually permit service dogs to come in.

If you don’t like dogs, or are afraid of them, simply put yourself on the other side of the person from the dog. Do not make a scene, or otherwise distract the dog.

If the dog “forgets” his manners and barks or growls at something or someone, you may inquire as to what the problem is. If someone has been teasing, poking or otherwise alarming the dog, they should be reprimanded. On the other hand, some service dogs alert their partners to impending seizures or crashing blood sugars by barking once or twice, and that may be the source of a bark or two.

You may ask the person to remove their service dog from the premises if the dog’s behavior is disruptive or destructive.

If another customer has a severe allergy to dogs, you might ask the person with the service dog if you can help them outside or if they can wait outside until the person with the allergy is through. This problem has not been defined by law, however. Balancing the health needs of the allergic against the rights of the disabled with service animals will probably be worked out in courts of law in the future.

If other customers complain about the presence of the service dog, explain that the service dog is medically necessary, and that Federal law AND State law protect the rights of the person to have their service dog with them in public places.

Many disabled people with service dogs carry pamphlets or cards that explain Federal ADA laws about service dogs. Some carry information about the training their dog has gone through and any certifications it has. You might politely ask the disabled person if they have such information with them if another customer is confused and you feel you don’t have enough information yourself to help the situation.

Places To Go For More Information

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Update: Primer for Small Businesses – section on service dogs

Americans with Disabilities Act: Title II 2010. Took effect on March 15, 2011.

Delta Society

Assistance Dogs International (ADI)

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)

Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS)

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