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Myths About Service Dogs

MYTH: A doctor’s note can qualify my dog as a service dog. 

TRUTH: Per the Department of Justice, “Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually TRAINED to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.” A note alone from a healthcare professional is not enough.

MYTH: Service dogs are forced to work 24/7. 

TRUTH: At Handi-Dogs we believe in the importance of a work/life balance for service dogs (and people). Our students and certified teams are encouraged to take time each day to exercise and play with their dogs. This helps keep everyone healthy and strengthens the bond.  

MYTH: Only certain breeds can be service dogs. 

TRUTH: No, any breed can qualify as a service dog. However the majority of dogs will not make good service dogs. Most important is the individual dog’s ability to do the tasks needed by its person, the dog’s health and temperament, its desire to learn and help its person regardless of the environment or distractions surrounding it. 

MYTH: A dog whose mere presence reduces its person’s anxiety has public access rights. 

TRUTH: Probably not. Likely it is considered an Emotional-Support Animal which do not have public access privileges. However, if the dog is TRAINED to do tasks directly relating to the person’s disability, then it can qualify as a Service Dog with public access rights.

MYTH: Service dogs can never be excluded from entering a public place. 

TRUTH: While typically true, if the service dog is not housebroken, imposes a direct threat to the safety of others, or is out of control and the handler doesn’t take effective action to control it, the dog may be excluded.

MYTH: Stores must allow a person to place their Service Dog in a shopping cart and restaurants must allow Service Dogs to sit in chairs at the table. 

TRUTH: No. Per the Dept of Justice, Service Dogs should walk on the floor next to the person or may be carried. At restaurants seating, food and drinks are for customers use only. The ADA enables people with disabilities to be accompanied by a Service Dog, but covered entities are NOT required to allow dogs to be fed or sit at the table.

MYTH: All dogs wearing something identifying them as Service Dogs are Service Dogs. 

TRUTH: Not necessarily. It is a Service Dog if it is TRAINED to do tasks to help its person who has a disability. Unfortunately people are purchasing 'credentials' and putting them on their pet dogs or emotional-support dogs. Most concerning is when these dogs are not well-mannered and making it difficult for people with trained Service Dogs to have their dogs safely with them.

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