Select where you want to go

Cerftification of Service Animals

Federal Law doesn't address certification directly, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a document that pertains to this, and other questions for businesses, but indivuals can benefit from this as well. State laws may require this in their state laws, but Federal Law (in other words, the Americans with Disabilities Act), does not require certification. If a state says your dog needs to be certified, ask them where you can get certification for FREE. You don't need to go any special place, spend hundreds of dollars to get your dog trained (or get another dog), then receive tags for your dog to wear, paperwork (that's worth less than the paperwork it's written on), or a card you're supposed to show everytime you go somewhere. This certication is issued by the agency, and certifies your dog passed THEIR certification tests.

Many companies have cropped up, promising certification, however, all they ask is a doctor's note that you are disabled and need a service dog, and maybe a few other pieces of document. They don't ask how the dog reacts in certain situations, or what you've trained your dog to do for you, nor do they ask about your disabilty.


Questions and answers about certification

Why is certification not required by the ADA?

The ADA recognizes that some indivials may have access to training centers for services dogs, and may train their own dog to help them. There are also no government agency that issues certification, because of the training and work that would have to be done to make sure there were facilities and personnel to test service dogs. No person or dog is the same, and it would be impossible to cover all disablities and tasks that a dog does for a person.

I've heard that three questions may be asked, what are they?

1. Are you disabled?

Answer is yes, if you are disabled under the ADA.

2. Is that a service dog?

Answer is yes.

3. What does your dog do for you?

This question may be answered vaguely, because there are disabled people that do not want to disclose their disability, with may be invisible. For example, you have a seizure disorder, the above question is asked, and the store or restauant may decide they don't want you in their business, so they think of a valid excuse to keep you out of their business.

Vague answers include, but are not limited to: Mobility Assistance, Alerts me to pending medical conditions, Helps with a medical condtion, helps me with enviormental factors (guide or hearing dog)

The DOJ brief says that a store owner my ask what tasks does my dog do for me. I have anxiety attacks, and I don't want to disclose that information, what do I do?

You answer the question vaguely. For example, "He alerts me to medical conditions." or "He helps me with a medical condition."

The business is NOT allowed to ask a person about their disablilty, what their disability is, or how it affects them.

A person showed the greeter at a store an ID card. I don't have one, so I was denied access to the store. What do I do?

The person that showed ID was hurting the disabled with service animals that follow them. The business will think that ID is required of everyone who uses a service dog. And are setting themselves up for a lawsuit by the person denied access. In court, if they say that someone else showed ID, that won't hold water, as ID IS NOT required.

Must a service dog be a certain breed?

No any breed may be a service dog as long as the dog is "trained to do tasks or work for the person with a disability", which is an exact quote from the ADA Handbook. (The items in quotes). I've seen small dogs do tasks for a person in a wheelchair and I've seen large dogs do things that a small dog could do for the person with the disability. It is the person with a disabilities choice as to what breed the dog may be.

Must I have my dog professionally trained?

No. You may train your dog yourself. Just go to the Books area of this site, and order the Teamwork books (or VHS tape or DVD). These books are for those that have physical impairements only. For other impairments, you can bounce ideas off each other in the OT-ADogs Email list. Click OT-Adogs Email list to sign up.

I'm not disabled, so I can just answer the questions, and bring in my pet, right?

WRONG! If you're caught, it's a FELONY offense to impersonate a disabled person, AND/OR have your dog impersonate a service dog. Punishable by huge fines and prison time. I HAVE seen people try this, and being a curious person, I ask the person what the dog does for them, and they tell me nothing, they just answer the questions so they can bring their pet in as a "service dog". I usually alert store management, who alerts store security so the person can't leave, and the police are called, as well as animal control. This person who thought they could get past the law, finds themselves separated from a beloved pet, and themselves in jail, maybe facing a prison term.

Any questions call me at the number on the front page of the service dog part of this website.

Email me!


*Copyright © 1998-2005 Dana L. Marshall
*All Rights Reserved