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Service Dog

FAQs

Here are some common questions about Service Dogs.

Service Dog Registries

NO!

The federal government does not recognize ANY registries which would GRANT or EXTEND any rights to you, the consumer.

This is a sensitive subject for those of us that work in the Service Dog world fulltime.

Service Dog Registries are completely useless websites that keep your information on their servers.

Are Service Dog registries regulated, validated, monitored, censored, or do they in any way provide any use to the public?

No, no, no, no, and generally not.

The government does NOT recognize or issues certifications for Service Dogs. Any company that states otherwise is lying.

Since the government does NOT issue certificates that also means that they do NOT monitor the validation of Service Dogs. i.e. Registries are worthless as they offer no user value.

Your certification and registration on a public domain offers no value as it does NOT certify, validate, or guarantee you, the consumer, any rights. 

It also does not offer public or government entities any value because the registry/certifier can grant you no certificate of validation (because the government does not acknowledge or validate any service dogs), and thereby the registries have no meaning or value to public or government businesses or agencies.

 

Our Opinion, YES!

Service Dog registries clearly mean to mislead the public into believing that “registration” GRANTs or EXTENDs some right or added value to the consumer not already FREELY afforded to you by the government or applicable law.

NO!

The federal government does not recognize ANY certification which would GRANT or EXTEND any rights to you, the consumer.

The government offers you rights and protections freely and without certification. You MUST simply comply with the regulation governing your Service Dog goals and purpose according to ADA guidelines.

If a company offers you a “certification” it would be like getting a Burger King Crown and assuming you are now the King. You may believe whatever you want but it offers no value to anyone around you.

Likewise, certificates issued by a public, for-profit entity, entitles you to a piece of paper for your personal gratification. It does NOT GRANT or EXTEND any rights to you, the consumer.

Your can dog can receive any certificate from any public entity. That certificate is of ZERO value to the public and grants you NO rights or protections.

Yes, they can be!

AKC Certifications validate that you and your Service Dog have completed stringent 3rd party testing standards.

Although not required to be ADA compliant, AKC Certifications and training logs are the most valuable resource when combating hard line problems with public access.

This includes gaining access to schools, places of employment, etc. The AKC Certificates provide validation that your dog is not just a “pet” but is actually a working Service Dog with verifiable records.

Can your place of employment or a school legally ask for proof or validation? 

No.

That doesn’t mean they have to grant you access willingly. They can force the issue and offer you the opportunity to pursue legal action. Having paperwork can bring down the barriers and provide validation, via 3rd party, that you and your dog are a working team.

YES!

If your goal is to have public access and the rights afforded to you under ADA protections, than YES, you can simply comply with ADA guidelines and your dog is legally ADA compliant.

No certificates required.

Obviously, it is a good idea to have professional help and training guidance to maintain your ADA compliance and have the confidence and know how for public access work.

Our Opinion, more often than not, YES!

Lets make a clear line of differentiation.

A certificate of training accomplishment is NOT a Scam. It is a certificate, provided by a 3rd party, stating that your pup has met the most stringent public access requirements. 

A doctor or psychiatric letter proving that you are in need of a Service Dog, is NOT a Scam.

A certificate that you pay for that states your dog is a Service Dog only because you paid for the certificate, is a Scam. 

These certificates provide no value to you, the consumer, or to the public. These certificates are not recognized by any government agency.

 

Taking my Service Dog in Public

Yes, any public business is allowed to ask you two questions under the ADA. They may ask “Is this a Service Dog for a disability?,” and “What task does it preform?” 

These are the only two questions business owners are allowed to ask you. If your dog is growling, eliminating or otherwise out of control you may be asked to leave the business. So keeping your dog trained it beneficial not only to the general public but to you!

For every day life, no, you are not required to have a Doctor letter to have your Service dog with you.

However, the Federal Housing Authority and the Airlines have different rules and they both DO require a letter. Those are the only two places where you will need a letter to have your service dog accompany you. 

Under the ADA, service dogs must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service dog’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. Doing so may be in violation of federal law.

Individuals who believe that they have been illegally denied access or service because they use service animals may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. Individuals also have the right to file a private lawsuit in Federal court charging the entity with discrimination under the ADA.

Once your dog is a service dog you can take them with you anywhere the public has access to as long as they are not misbehaving.

There are only two questions you may be asked regarding your service dog: 1) is the dog a service dog required because of a disability, and 2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service dogs. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service dog must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.

Service Dog Training Standards

Under the ADA your Service Dog has to complete a task to help you live your daily life. This can be mobility support, seizure alert, opening handicap doors or things of the like. It CANNOT be “keeping you calm,” that is not a task and cannot be passed off as one. 

At Open Range we advocate for clients to follow AKC training guidelines. So many Service dogs who are highly trained all train along a program exactly like we have put together.

This is training that our clients can do on their own, take classes, or hire a trainer for, it is universal. 

The nature of the law gives leeway for people to bend and break the rules. At Open Range we absolutely advocate for people to do proper training and get their dogs used to public work. It is not ok to bend the law under the guise you have publicly trained a dog that, in fact, isn’t trained. 

 

The problem lies in the fact that if your dog is not trained it is liable to distract, attack or cause other problems for actual working teams. Not to mention causing problems for business owners and the over all skepticism surrounding Service Dogs.

We advocate for our clients to have at least two AKC certificates (CGC and CGCUrban) before they start doing task work. 

That is where Open Range comes in! We are here with all of these modules and live training to help our clients do the work themselves.

We do train Service Dogs in house, but we also do work with our online clients to make it affordable for your dog to get trained and preform as a Service dog. 

At Open Range our most important tests are:

AKC Canine Good Citizen 

AKC Canine Good Citizen Urban

After you have completed those beginning task work and having your dog in public is fine. You need to redo these tests every two years for the life of the dog. 

ESA Basics

An emotional support dog is a dog that provides comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for disability like service dogs are. There are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love.

Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias and other psychological and emotional conditions. 

Legal protections for ESA’s are limited. Take our ESA course to learn what protections are available to ESA’s.

 

Yes, of course. Anyone can have an emotional support dog. Does that mean you are protected by federal or private regulations? 

That depends.

There are a few regulations that support ESA’s. They include FHA regulations, Air Carrier Access Act, and some college dorm policies.

These protections often require a therapist or doctor’s letter for validation of need.

Click here to get connect with an ESA psychology expert for a risk free evaluation.

Federal law requires individuals with an Emotional Support Dog to provide a valid letter (dated within the past 12 months) from a doctor or mental health professional recommending the use of their animal. This letter may be requested from your building manager/landlord or airline personnel.

If you do not have a letter use this link to connect with an evaluator in your state.

You can often have your ESA Letter issued in less than 24 hours.

Airline personnel and/or building manager/landlords may ask for a note, written by a doctor or mental health professional, recommending the use of an Emotional Support Animal. It may be from your physician, psychiatrist, therapist, or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). To be valid, the letter must be current (dated within the past 12 months) and updated annually.

Click here to get an ESA Letter Evaluation.

Click here to work with a coach to help you get your Airline or FHA paperwork in order.

Please do note that while emotional support animals do not require specific training for one’s disability, they must have basic obedience training and not misbehave in public.

Emotional Support Animals are protected under federal law by the Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which protects the handler’s rights in housing and air travel, respectively.

ESA’s are not protected under federal law to have access to public places; including but not limited to, restaurants, public and taxi transport, schools, and most common public access areas.

To get the most protection afforded by the Federal Government your dog must comply with ADA guidelines to access public spaces.

ESA’s do NOT comply with ADA guidelines.

Click here to learn more.

There are no regulations regarding training that your “ESA”dog needs to go through in order to be considered an emotional support dog. 

Keep in mind that your dog needs to be trained to behave properly in public settings to meet Airline and FHA guidelines.

Work with Open Range to get task training for your ESA dog and you can increase your protections to those afforded by the Federal ADA guidelines.

  • Comforting the handler with their presence
  • Providing a sense of focus and purpose in its handler
  • Improving the handler’s self-esteem
  • Reducing stress
  • Flies with handler in cabin for free (with proper qualifications)
  • Lives with handler in housing for free (with proper qualifications)

ESA Letters

Federal law requires individuals with an Emotional Support Dog to provide a valid letter (dated within the past 12 months) from a doctor or mental health professional recommending the use of their animal. This letter may be requested from your building manager/landlord or airline personnel.

If you do not have a letter use this link to connect with an evaluator in your state.

You can often have your ESA Letter issued in less than 24 hours.

No, and we urge extreme caution when using an online programs to retrieve an ESA Letter.

Click here to connect with a certified psychologist and get your ESA Letter Evaluation risk Free.

Flying with ESA's

Are there any limitation when flying with an ESA?

Yes, as of 2019 many airlines have increased their requirements and reduced overall access to ESA’s.

Here are some updates:

 

  • ESA’s must be acknowledged as having the proper training to behave in public.
  • Many airlines have imposed a 50lb weight limitation on ESA’s.
Airlines have the final say as to whether or not your dog is allowed on a plane.
 
ESA’s are NOT protected by ADA guidelines.

Click here to learn how you can lift any limitations for your ESA dog.

 

Common requests from airlines:

  • ESA Letter
  • Personal erification of Behavior and Obedience Training
  • Veterinary Health Certificate

Click here for a list of airline specific PDF’s.

Click here for a risk free ESA Letter Evaluation.

Click here to learn how you can lift any limitations for your ESA dog.

Yes. We easy access copies provided by the airlines available here. 

Click here for airline PDF’s.

Housing with ESA's

Your landlord must give reasonable accommodations to an ESA.

This translates:

  • Yes, you can have your ESA.
  • The landlord may wave some fees associated with “pets” in the complex or housing.

The landlord may ask for certain documentation:

  • Verification of “need” in the form of an ESA Letter.
Click here to get your ESA Letter Evaluation risk free.

Yes!

Please purchase our ESA Coaching Kit or sign up for our Premier Paw Yearly Membership to access our ESA concierge coaching services.

Other ESA Questions?

Use the button below to ask your own questions on our forum.

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