Thursday: June 20, 2024
President Bush's Service Dog, Sully

Service Dogs

Service Dogs are individually task-trained medical assistance animals prescribed to mitigate their handler’s physical, sensory, mental or mobility disability.

A service dog team’s civil rights protections include public access and reasonable accommodations found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Air Carrier Access Act, the Rehabilitation Act and many state codes.

Service Dogs in Training (SDiT) may have public access rights with restrictions under specific state laws, but are not required to be admitted to non-pet friendly locations under the protections of the ADA.

Non-medical assistance working canines such as police k9, military k9, search & rescue, drug detection, explosive detection or similarly trained animals are not classified as service dogs with civil rights protections.

Emotional Support Animals

For some people diagnosed with a mental disability, their treating medical professional might prescribe an emotional support animal. Any domesticated animal could be prescribed as an ESA.

The protections afforded emotional support animals handlers should not be confused with service dog teams. The ESA handler’s protections are limited to regulated residential housing locations and domestic travel on airlines only. The civil rights protection for ESA handlers are found through administrative rulings of the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act.

In all other situations, an ESA is legally considered a pet and should only be going to “pet-friendly” locations.

In December 2020, the Department of Transportation (DOT) updated the regulations for the Air Carrier Access Act, removing Emotional Support Animals (ESA) from in-cabin air travel with their owner.

Emotional Support Animals can be any domesticated species permitted local ordinances
Therapy Animals are Pets with a purpose

Therapy Animals
and Family Pets

Therapy animals are trained to provide comfort and affection to people in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and disaster zones.

Common therapy animals include dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and birds. Handlers must properly care for and prepare the animal before it can be certified as a therapy animal by an accredited organization. The animal must pass tests demonstrating obedience, calmness, and safe behavior around strangers.

Animal-assisted therapy utilizes therapy animals as part of a treatment process overseen by healthcare professionals. Interacting with therapy animals can reduce pain, lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and improve mood and mental health for many individuals. Proper certification ensures therapy animals meet standards for health, training, and temperament.

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Service Dog Certifications

Not worth the paper they're printed on The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides rights and protections for people with disabilities in the United States. This includes the right to be accompanied by service animals in public places without having to pay extra fees or provide proof of certification. Under the ADA, a service animal only needs to be individually trained to perform tasks that help mitigate their handler's disability. There are no legally mandated

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Police and Military K9s

Police and military forces utilize canines known as K9s to assist with critical duties.

These highly trained dogs use their powerful sense of smell to detect bombs, drugs, cadavers, and other items of interest. K9s employed in law enforcement help track criminal suspects and missing persons. 

In the military, tactical K9s accompany soldiers into the field to scent out enemy combatants or hidden weapons. K9 units are valued for their contributions to policing, security, and combat operations. With proper handling, these capable working dogs serve as loyal partners.

K9s are partners in military and police units
Responsible ownership is essential for any animal trained to guard, defend or engage threats

Protection Animals

Protection dogs are trained to defend and guard against threats to their handlers or property.  They demand proper training and responsible ownership.

Breeds like German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Belgian Malinois and Pitbulls are often used due to their intelligence, trainability, strength, and intimidating appearance. Training involves enhancing the dog’s natural territorial instincts and teaching them when to alert, deter, or engage a threat through barking, holding, or biting. Many families, security firms, and police forces employ protection dogs as an extra layer of defense.

Other animal species are also used for protection. Guard donkeys and llamas will aggressively chase, kick, and bite predators that may threaten livestock. Geese and guinea fowl serve as noisy “watchdogs” on farms, alerting to unfamiliar animals or people.

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