WHICH IS A ‘FAKE’ SERVICE DOG?
There’s no way to know. Anyone can take a dog into a business and claim it’s a service dog. (By the way, both are service dogs. The foxy dog is a medical alert dog whose owner has a wild sense of humor!)
I will explain the different ADA regulations for Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals and will discuss how the law has been spoiled by Fakers.
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)
Both Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals must always be with their handler, and the handler must always have the animal under control.
Service Animals (SA)
A Service Animal means any dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a medical condition or sound, remind a person to take medication.
They are protected under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act so that they may live and travel with their handlers. Property owners cannot restrict the breed, size, or species, and they are required to make reasonable accommodations for people with a verified diagnosis.
Providing proof of certification is not required. Public establishments may only ask if the SA is required because the person has a disability and what type of work it is trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the SA, or ask that the SA demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. There are companies on the internet that will ask you to register your SA, but it is not required.
Some requirements for Service Animals:
Only dogs or miniature horses are approved.
An entity may assess the type, size, and weight of a miniature horse and whether the horse would be a safety hazard to the facility.
Must always be under control of the handler.
Must have current vaccinations.
Must be housebroken. (You must clean up after your animal.)
Does not override local health rules.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA)
Emotional Support Animals provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. An ESA provides companionship, relieves loneliness, and sometimes helps with psychological illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and certain phobias. They do not have specialized training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.
There are requirements for an animal to be considered an ESA. The handler must provide a letter from a mental health professional that states that he or she has a disability and that the ESA is necessary for the wellbeing of the handler.
As with Service Animals, ESA are protected under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.
Since Service Animals require no certification, many people have started abusing it. They claim the animal is necessary for a disability which opens the world to them. Apartments cannot disallow the [dog] and cannot charge fees for it. Restaurants may not turn them away. I was in a restaurant one time where the owner claimed the dog was a Service Dog. The dog peed on the floor, and the owner just got up and changed tables. The law requires the handler to clean up after the animal; besides, Service Animals are required to be housebroken.
Trainers And Owners Are Making A Push
Since the ADA has minimal requirements for Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals, these groups want standards established. They would like requirements to include certification which would prevent as many ‘fake’ animals, and it would include testing of an animal’s temperament.
Many states have regulations which are more defined than the ADA. You should check your state and county laws.