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ADA Description of a Service Animal

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There is a lot of misinformation out there on what exactly constitutes a service animal. According to the 2010 revised requirements for a service animal a service dog is ” Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”  the full version of this publication can be found at

 “This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s regulations.

  • Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
  • A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.”

The full definition says:

“Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. 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.

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the relevant State attorney general’s office.”

The revised publication should answer most of your questions about a service dog, what is required and where they are allowed to accompany you. 

For my Law Enforcement and Veteran brothers and sisters who deal with PTSD as a result of your service. Service dogs are becoming more and more common to help with the issues we deal with as a result of PTSD. I found this article that lists some of the things a service dog can do to help you deal with PTSD. 

I have read some news articles lately that report the VA will provide a service dog for veterans with PTSD under certain circumstances. There are also a lot of organizations out there to assist Veterans with acquiring or training a service dog. In Utah, I was training a dog through Canines With a Cause.  They are a very good organization. They rescue puppies and then work with several prisons where the puppies are trained to the point where they can pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification (CGC). Then they match the dog with a Veteran in need of a service dog. The training program for the Veteran takes close to two years but there is no financial charge to the Veteran. There is a requirement that you commit to the training and work with the dog consistently. Check-in your area and you will probably find a similar organization. 

If you need assistance finding an organization or getting the documentation to support your need for a service Dog please feel free to reach out to me. I will be glad to share with you what I learned. You can contact me through this website and I will respond as soon as possible. 

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