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ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SERVICE DOGS

Learn All Of The Basics To Get Started With Your Service Dog Team. Work From Home With A Trainer, Self Paced Service Dog Training, Easy Identification Tags, Document Concierge Services, Identification Vests, Training Certifications and More.

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Are you looking to train your canine or prepare yourself for work as a service dog team? Would you like to become ADA compliant and have federal rights for you and your service dog?

You can start learning today just by joining Open Range Academy’s Free platform services.

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Open Range Academy Introduction To Service Dogs

Service Dog 101: What Is A Service Dog?

You might have come across differently-abled people on public transport such as on the train or bus with a service dog or emotional support animal. Contrary to what you might think, they are not pets. They serve a higher purpose other than being a regular house pet. Often they are an extension of the differently-abled individual, whether that person is visually-impaired, living with a seizure disorder (epilepsy), suffering from past trauma (such as PTSD) or a person who has autism or a developmental delay condition. A service dog helps people with varying disabilities not just with their mobility, but even with their emotional needs as well. They can give one the needed stability to maintain composure and fundamentally improve the quality of life for people who need extra care. 

A service dog is trained to perform specific tasks or work for a person who has a disability. They help provide visual functions for the blind, auditory purposes for the deaf, and muscular tasks for the physically disabled.

Also, they act as medical alert dogs for people who tend to suffer from a sudden attack.

In addition, they do provide emotional support to their owners, but the federal definition requires a dog to perform certain tasks for their owners. Physically disabled people often need assistance to perform essential functions, and service animals prove to the perfect answer.

Most dogs are typically trained for four months before beginning service. Several people suffering from disabilities have recognized service animals as a great solution.

ESA's vs Service Dogs

Simply put: An ESA does NOT meet the standards of the ADA law and does not have protections awarded by the ADA. A Service Dog DOES meet the standards of the ADA law and is awarded protections under the ADA.

Protection Differences

ESA Protections

Service Dog Protections

General Guideline Differences

ESA Guidelines

Service Dog Guidelines

Can My ESA Become ADA Compliant?

If You Are Eligible For A Service Dog Doctor/ESA Letter,

than often YES, you can train your dog to become ADA compliant and have the additional protections awarded to you under the ADA law. Keep in mind that you MUST train your dog in public access work and train your dog to perform a specific task for your needs.

Connect with a Training Academy Coach to get help with your training or other ESA and Service Dog needs.

Simply use the live help icon in the right hand corner of your screen to get in touch anytime!

Service Dog Rights

In the United States, disabled Americans are granted civil rights protections against discrimination and harassment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Rehab Act.  Many states have also enacted legislation applicable for their residents.

To qualify as a protected class, the individual must meet the definition of disabled as declared in the specific law or as stated in the federal regulations published by department deemed responsible for its administration.  Because of multiple qualification possibilities, potentially an individual could meets the legal definition of disabled status under one law, while not being protected under a different law.  Any individual not meeting that law’s definition of disabled is not afforded the civil rights protections against discrimination and harassment is not a protected class.

SERVICE DOG LAWS ALLOW YOU TO HAVE YOUR SERVICE DOG AT YOUR RESIDENCE.

SERVICE DOG LAWS ALLOW YOU TO FLY WITH YOUR PUP.

SERVICE DOGS ALSO HAVE PROTECTED PUBLIC ACCESS RIGHTS.

PUBLIC ACCESS RIGHTS ARE ONLY AFFORDED TO DOGS WHO COMPLY WITH THE STANDARDS OF FEDERAL ADA LAWS.

SERVICE DOG TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

FACT: ALL FEDERAL REGULATIONS REQUIRE A SERVICE DOG TO HAVE TRAINING (FHA HOUSING REGULATIONS ARE THE ONLY POTENTIAL EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE).

ADA, FHA, ACAA, AND THE REHAB ACT.

DO SERVICE DOGS NEED TO BE TRAINED?

DO SERVICE DOGS NEED TO BE TRAINED BY A PROFESSIONAL?

FACT: MOST SERVICE DOGS NEED TO BE TRAINED IN BASIC OBEDIENCE, HAVE SOME PUBLIC ACCESS BEHAVIOR TRAINING AND BE TRAINED TO COMPLETE SPECIFIC TASKS FOR THEIR HANDLER.

28 C.F.R. Parts 36 and 85

On March 28, 2014, the Department of Justice issued a Final Rule that adjusts for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by the Civil Rights Division, including civil penalties available under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).   For the ADA, this adjustment increases the maximum civil penalty for a first violation under title III from $55,000 to $75,000; for a subsequent violation the new maximum is $150,000.  The new maximums apply only to violations occurring on or after April 28, 2014.

Service Dogs in Training (SDiT) Do Not Have Public Access Rights Under The Americans with Disabilities Act

Service Dogs in Training may have public access rights under local state law.  However, often the state laws place restrictions that can include disability-type(s) and licensed professional/school trainers.    While ADA allows for a task-trained service dog to have been trained by it’s disabled owner, many states may not allow for that owner to conduct the public access training.

Unless you have read a copy of the current state code on the subject and have it with you when training, the best practice is for disabled-owner-trainers to conduct public access training with service dog in training only at pet-friendly businesses or locations.  It is common for handlers training dogs in public to have their presence questioned and authority validated.

Independent Service Dog Testing

Service Dog Training Solution - ORA

The Open Range Academy set out to fill a gap in the industry. Our goal is to provide those in need with ethical and fair priced Service Dog Programs while maintaining the strict training standards of other non-profit and for-profit organizations. 

Here is a list of our goals we aim to achieve everyday at Open Range Academy:

  1. Create a Certification Platform that caters to Service Dogs.
  2. Make Service Dog Training Programs readily available.
  3. Create Service Dog Training Programs that are flexible for the type of Service Dog required.

Open Range Academy (ORA) offers 7 Levels of Service Dog Performance Training:

  1. Service Dog Preparedness
  2. Level 1: Basic Obedience
  3. Level 2: Progression Obedience
  4. Level 3: Progression Public Access
  5. Level 4: Performance Public Access
  6. Level 5: Introduction to Service Dog Task Work
  7. Level 6: Progression of Service Dog Task Work
  8. Level 7: Completion of Service Dog Beginner Training

Certification Problems

  1. Third party companies, like the AKC, do not go beyond basic obedience and public access training standards. Additionally; third party standards, such as the AKC CGC standards, are often counter-intuitive to Service Dog and ESA handler needs.

FACT: ORA IS THE ONLY PLATFORM OF ITS KIND. WE ARE THE ONLY FULL SERVICE HOME TRAINING PLATFORM AND COMPREHENSIVE SERVICE DOG CERTIFICATION PROGRAM.

TASKS FOR TRAINED SERVICE DOGS

service dog is a specifically task-trained to help an individual with a disability that substantially limits one or more life activities. Disabilities may include visual difficulties, hearing impairments, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), seizures, ambulatory issues, mental illness, diabetes, autism, and more depending upon the applicable law.   However, to qualify, the task(s) must be related directly to assisting with the individual’s disability, not basic obedience, owner protection or pet-tricks.  Emotional support and comfort are not trained tasks. “Natural”alerts or spontaneous abilities offers do not qualify as trained tasks.

Types of Service Dogs May Include:

Guide Dog – assists an individual that has vision impairment.

Mobility Dog – may retrieve items, open doors or even push buttons for its handler.  Also, this service animal may assist people with disabilities with walking, balance and transferring from place to place.

Hearing Dog – alert its handler with a hearing loss to sounds.  This can be telephone, door bell, smoke alarm, crying baby, traffic and more.

Medical Alert Dog – trained to predicatively alert to a small number of oncoming medical conditions or respond its handler’s needs during or after an event of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, seizure, etc.

Autism Service Dog –  trained to interrupt certain negative behaviors of its handler so that the handler may keep these behaviors to a minimum.

Psychiatric Service Dog – works with a handler that has a mental disability.  Some types of tasks could be to attend a handler who may need a dog to be able to go out in public (agoraphobic), or a handler who suffers from  panic attacks, anxiety attack, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or other mental disorders.  These dogs are trained NEVER to leave their handler’s side.

HUNDREDS OF ADDITIONAL TRAINING TASKS AND OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH OPEN RANGE ACADEMY.

ORA Has Home Training Solutions For ALL Types of Service Dog Training Needs and Types.

Check out these comprehensive service dog training tasks:

Open Range Academy Registration

OPEN RANGE ACADEMY DIFFERENCE

Open Range Academy offers registration services, so what makes us different?

OPEN RANGE ACADEMY (ORA) REGISTRATION SERVICE OFFERS PUBLIC ACCESS AVAILABILITY TO VERIFIED DOCUMENTATION PERTAINING TO THE HANDLER AND CANINE TEAM.

NEW ORA REGISTRATION APP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THE FOLLOWING:

OPEN RANGE ACADEMY SERVICE DOG REGISTRATION

PROVIDES EASY ACCESS TO DOCUMENTATION YOU ARE WILLING TO PROVIDE FOR PUBLIC AWARENESS. AN ORA REGISTRATION NUMBER IS ALSO REQUIRED FOR TRACKING YOUR ORA SERVICE DOG TRAINING AND ACCOMPLISHMENT CERTIFICATIONS.

PERTINENT PUBLIC CANINE AND HANDLER AWARENESS INFORMATION

BASIC PERTINENT INFORMATION INCLUDING: NAME, PICTURE, AND TASK WORK PERFORMED, ETC.

EMERGENCY CONTACT AND PROCEDURE INFORMATION

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (i.e. Call 911). DOCTOR, CLOSE CONTACT OR OTHER RELEVANT CONTACTS. HOW TO HELP IN CASE OF EPISODE REQUIRING ASSISTANCE.

CANINE HEALTH RECORDS

COPIES OF VACCINATION AND YEARLY VET REPORT.

CANINE TRAINING RECORDS

TRAINING QUALIFICATIONS, TRAINING HOURS, CERTIFICATES, CERTIFICATE VIDEOS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

VERIFIED TRAINING ASSESSMENT TESTS AND CERTIFICATIONS

EARN CERTIFICATES AFTER WORKING THROUGH ORA SERVICE DOG COURSES AND TAKING YOUR EVALUATION TEST WITH A CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR.

PUBLIC AWARENESS SUPPORT

ALTHOUGH YOU CAN ONLY BE ASKED A FEW QUESTIONS UNDER FEDERAL GUIDELINES, BUSINESSES ULTIMATELY HAVE THE RIGHT TO PROTECT THEIR BUSINESS IF THEY FEEL THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE A LEGITIMATE SERVICE DOG. THE OPEN RANGE ACADEMY REGISTRATION PROVIDES QUICK ACCESS TO YOUR CERTIFICATION AND EVALUATION VIDEOS THAT HELP PUBLIC ENTITIES KNOW THAT YOUR DOG HAS THE PROPER TRAINING.

OPEN RANGE ACADEMY SUPPORT

OPEN RANGE ONLY PROVIDES CERTIFICATES AND ID PLACARDS TO THOSE WHO ACTUALLY PARTICIPATE IN OUR TRAINING PROGRAMS. THE PURPOSE OF OUR REGISTRATION SERVICE IS TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR TRAINING HOURS AND CERTIFICATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS. ADDITIONALLY, WE ARE ALWAYS HERE TO HELP ENCOURAGE, HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND ASSIST YOU WITH STAYING COMPLIANT WITH FEDERAL LAWS. OUR COACHES AND TRAINERS ARE ACCUSTOM TO WORKING WITH SERVICE ANIMALS IN PUBLIC AND CAN HELP GUIDE YOU IN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS AND PROVIDE THE SUPPORT YOU NEED TO HAVE CONFIDENCE MOVING FORWARD.

Is Service Dog Registration For Public Awareness Useful or Necessary?

YES, IF:

THE REGISTRAR PROVIDES VERIFIABLE PUBLIC INFORMATION THAT SUBSTANTIATES YOUR CLAIM TO A SERVICE DOG. YOUR SERVICE DO MUST BE TRAINED TO BE GRANTED MOST FEDERAL PROTECTIONS (FHA IS THE ONLY EXEMPTION). IF YOUR REGISTRAR IS NOT TRACKING USEFUL PUBLIC AWARENESS INFORMATION THAN THE REGISTRY IS LITERALLY USELESS.

YES, IF:

THE REGISTRAR PROVIDES USEFUL TOOLS FOR HANDLER AND PUBLIC PROTECTION. IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH A SERVICE DOG THAN MOST LIKELY THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU MAY NEED ASSISTANCE, PROTECTION, SUPPORT, OR IMMEDIATE HEALTH RELATED SUPPORT. OPEN RANGE ACADEMY IS THE ONLY COMPANY THAT PROVIDES HANDLER CRITERIA FOR INSTANCES IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. OPEN RANGE ACADEMY IS ALSO THE ONLY COMPANY THAT HAS PROFESSIONAL AND KNOWLEDGEABLE HANDLERS ON STAFF TO SUPPORT YOU AT ANY TIME IN ANY SCENARIO.

ULTIMATELY, YES, REGISTRATION CAN BE A USEFUL TOOL FOR PUBLIC AWARENESS, BUT IT IS NOT REQUIRED.

NO, IF:

THE REGISTRAR PROVIDES A "REGISTRATION" NUMBER WITH A PICTURE AND NAME CLAIMING YOU HAVE A "SERVICE DOG". IN THESE INSTANCES, IF YOUR DOG IS NOT TRAINED, YOU ARE BEING MISLEAD AND YOU ARE ACTUALLY BREAKING THE LAW. PRIVATE AND PUBLIC COMPANIES AND INSTITUTIONS ULTIMATELY HAVE THE RIGHT TO BAN YOU FROM THE PREMISE AND EVEN SUE YOU IF YOUR DOG IS NOT TRAINED AND MISBEHAVES IN PUBLIC.

WARNING

Private companies and public institutions have the obligation to protect everyone. If your dog is misbehaving they have the right to remove the animal. Your protections are only awarded if your dog has been trained for service “tasks”, in public spaces and is not a danger to others. If your dog is not trained you are probably breaking the law.

Compare "Other" Registration Services

(USELESS) REGISTRATION NUMBER

OTHER COMPANIES PROVIDE YOU WITH A REGISTRATION NUMBER THAT SHOWS YOUR NAME, YOUR DOGS NAME, AND A PICTURE OF YOUR CANINE.

WARNING

Other registration and certification companies provide a false notion that by becoming “registered” you now have a legally registered service animal. THIS IS FALSE.

Ultimately Service Dog “registration” is NOT required under any federal law; additionally, federal laws do not grant rights or permissions to registry companies or canines participating in those public registries. The value to the client, you, is only relevant to the services offered by the registry.

Ultimately Service Dog “certification” is NOT required under any federal law. Certification only provides value if it is backed up through training and provides additional public awareness.

NO OTHER COMPANY OFFERS TRAINING, TRAINING EVALUATION CERTIFICATES, PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT, OR LONG TERM ASSISTANCE

OPEN RANGE IS THE ONLY COMPANY

Learn More About Open Range Academy's Registration Services

Service Dog Registration and Certificate SCAMS

DO SERVICE DOGS NEED TO BE REGISTERED?

DO SERVICE DOGS NEED TO HAVE CERTIFICATES?

FACT: ESA'S AND SERVICE DOGS ARE FREELY PROTECTED UNDER FEDERAL OR LEGAL REGULATIONS AND REQUIRE NO REGISTRATION OR CERTIFICATION.

FACT: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE OR SUPPORT ANY PUBLIC SERVICE DOG REGISTRIES OR CERTIFICATIONS.

FACT: ESA AND SERVICE DOG REGISTRIES ARE PUBLIC COMPANIES THAT STORE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION ON THEIR PRIVATE SERVERS. PURCHASING A CERTIFICATE OR REGISTRATION OFFERS NO PROTECTION OR RIGHTS TO YOU.

FACT: ESA AND SERVICE DOG CERTIFICATES ARE PIECES OF PAPER, NOT RECOGNIZED BY ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY, AND THEY AWARD YOU NO RIGHTS OR PRIVILEGES.

WARNING

OTHER REGISTRATION AND CERTIFICATE COMPANIES PROVIDE A FALSE NOTION THAT WHEN YOU BECOME "REGISTERED" YOU KNOW HAVE A LEGALLY REGISTERED SERVICE ANIMAL.

THIS IS FALSE! IN FACT BY USING THOSE REGISTRIES UNDER A FALSE PRETENSE YOU MAY BE BRAKING THE LAW.

"REGISTRATION" SIMPLY MEANS THAT YOUR NAME IS ON A PUBLIC DATABASE. THIS GRANTS YOU NO RIGHTS AND IS ULTIMATELY A WORTHLESS SERVICE UNLESS THE REGISTRAR PROVIDES VALUE ADDED COMPONENTS SUCH AS TRAINING, EMERGENCY ALERT ASSISTANCE, ETC.

A "CERTIFICATE" IS A PIECE OF PAPER AND GRANTS YOU NO RIGHTS OR PROTECTIONS. A "CERTIFICATE" THAT YOU SIMPLY PAY FOR THAT STATES "YOU HAVE A SERVICE DOG" OFFERS YOU ZERO VALUE.

AGAIN, DO NOT BELIEVE THAT A CERTIFICATE OR REGISTRY CAN PROVIDE YOU RIGHTS. IF YOUR DOG IS NOT TRAINED ACCORDING TO FEDERAL OR LOCAL LAWS THAN YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW.

READ THE TERMS OF USE ON THE REGISTRY OR CERTIFICATE PROVIDERS WEBSITE.

Here is an example of Terms of Use from an actual ESA/Service Dog Registry:

"Our services provide no protection above or beyond the law. We are a tool, similar to an online resume or other online profile service."
TAKEN FROM:
usserviceanimals.org

Home Training and Behavior Modification With Premier Paw Access

Are you looking to train your pup for public access? Would you like your pup to become ADA compliant and have public access rights?

You can start training today with a certified instructor group when you join our Premier Paw program.

Here are some highlight of our Premier Paw Home Training Program:

Click Here To Learn More About Premier Paw Options:

Work With A Pup Academy Coach!

Access a coach right now with your specific questions: simply click on the live chat tab in the bottom right hand corner of your screen to start. 

ESA and Service Dog Coaching Concierge Services

Your coach can help answer some basic questions; however, if you purchase a Coaching Paw Pack your coach will also assist with these items:

Sign Up, Click The Button Below

Grab Your Service Dog Paw Pass

Easy Identification Tags, Document Concierge Services, Identification Vests, Home Service Dog Training Programs, Service Dog Training Certifications and More.

Service Dog (ESA or Doctor) Letters

It’s well recognized that dogs and other domesticated animals provide comfort for those dealing with grief, loneliness and fear. As the rates of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety steadily climb in the United States, emotional support animals are becoming increasingly popular as therapy aides. In fact, the number of travelers using emotional support animals (ESAs) and service animals has increased 56 percent the last year, according to a legal document filed by major airlines and the Air Transport Association. 

Under federal law, two authorities MAY request supporting proof in the form of an Doctors Note; Airlines and Housing. Public access spaces may NOT request documentation of any kind and although employers and schools may NOT ask for documentation it is always recommended that you have as much supporting documentation available as you can. This helps to bring down the barriers and validate that you have a working Service Dog.

As the demand for Service Dogs and, therefore, Service Dog letters increases, so has the emergence of Service Dog letter companies with less than noble intentions. Though some of these companies may be negligent, others are more likely to be intentionally fraudulent. Below we tell you how to tell the legitimate ones from the scams.

Simple Doctors Letter Checklist

Beware of sites that:

  1. Approve you for an Service Dog Doctors letter after only asking a few questions online.
  2. Have you message or talk with a mental healthcare professional that is not located in your state (often overseas).
  3. Offer Service Dog letters that are suspiciously cheap.
  4. If you are not working with a licensed practitioner it should arouse suspicion.

How to get a valid Service Dog Prescription

Talking to a mental health professional or doctor licensed to practice in your state is the ONLY way to obtain a valid service dog letter. You can talk to them in person, on the phone or over video chat.

In addition to the service dog letter, many airlines require an extra form in order to bring your emotional support animal on a plane for free. A legitimate service dog company will know these requirements and provide these airline-specific letters as well.

Also note that not all service dog letters are the same. Your service dog letter should be written on a licensed mental health professional’s official letterhead with their license number and direct contact information. 

Double-check that the mental health professional’s license is in good standing and up to date by searching your state’s professional licensing database online.

If you are interested in getting a legitimate service dog prescription, visit TalkSpace.com to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional licensed to practice in your state.

SERVICE DOG LETTER SCAMS

This section highlights an investigation report conducted by Delta Airlines and submitted to the state of Georgia Senate for legislation consideration.

ARE SERVICE DOG LETTERS ASSIGNED FROM ONLINE SURVEYS LEGAL?

Summary: ESA'S AND SERVICE DOGS "Letters"

ESA and Service Dog Letters are being issued under false pretense. Un-witting consumers are sold a "therapist" document on the basis of only a simple survey and no prior doctor-patient relationship. "As a result, there now exist a plethora of shady companies (referred to hereinafter as “ESA Letter Mills”) who partner with unethical mental healthcare providers to sell ESA Letters to literally any applicant without regard to whether the purchaser actually has the requisite mental or emotional disability."

Widespread ESA and Service Dog Business Complacency:

Numerous companies are directly referenced in the Georgia Senate Memorandum and happen to be some of the largest agencies perpetuating the ESA scam. Many, many companies have arisen since the issuance of the initial document date of August, 2018.

Criminal Conduct:

Some states have already enacted laws that may give additional teeth in the fight against both the issuers and the recipients of bogus ESA Letters.


Consumer Criminal Conduct: Florida, as an example, has criminalized conduct, specifically making false representation of a service animal punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.


Practitioner Criminal Conduct: In May 2018, on behalf of the State of California, the Board of Behavioral Sciences – Department of Consumer Affairs (the “Board”) filed an action (the “Accusation”) against Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Carla Jean Black (“Black”) arising from her issuance of fraudulent ESA Letters, including such letters ordered by customers of “The Dogtor. Dishonest, Corrupt, or Fraudulent Acts, for Black’s issuance of ESA Letters without having made a true and proper assessment of the recipient’s mental health."

Public Safety:

The issues presented by the fraudulent ESA Letters touch upon both individual mental health and the well-being and safety of the general public. This is especially true in light of the increased likelihood of incidents involving attacks on third-party passengers by an untrained emotional support animal and the above-discussed possibility of an erroneous under-diagnosis of an applicant – i.e., a patient who mistakenly believes that the emotional support animal is complete and sufficient treatment for his/her true mental disorder. These issues also affect millions of air travelers each year, who may be inconvenienced (or worse) as a result of bogus emotional support animals in the passenger cabin of the aircraft.

From early June to early August 2018, Delta had at least six incidents involving bites by traveling animals. (S. McCartney, “On U.S. Planes, the Dogs are Winning, “ Wall Street Journal (August 8, 2018) at https://www.wsj.com/articles/on-u-s-planes-the-dogs-arewinning-1533734133

Summary:

In short, the sale of bogus ESA Letters by ESA Letter Mills and the certification/execution of those letters by the involved mental healthcare professionals necessarily give rise to a plethora of fraud, malpractice, consumer protection, and theft related criminal and civil violations. Given the breadth and nature of the underlying fraud and other misconduct, the ESA Letter scam might also give rise to charges and civil claims pursuant to federal RICO and state RICO statutes against the ESA Letter Mills and the involved mental healthcare professionals.

SERVICE DOG RIGHTS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT

At the national level, qualifying disabled Americans utilizing prescribed task-trained service animals have civil rights protections against discrimination and harassment under the following laws:

  • Fair Housing Act (FHAct) of 1968, Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988
    42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., 24 CFR Parts 100 et seq.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (also known as the Rehab Act)
    29 U.S.C. § 794,  over 20 implementing regulations including 34 CFR Part 104 (Department of Education), 45 CFR Part 84 (Department of Health and Human Services), 28 CFR §§ 42.501 et seq.; over 95 implementing regulations for federally conducted programs including:  28 CFR Part 39 (Department of Justice).
  • Air Carrier Access Act  (ACAA) of 1986
    49 U.S.C. § 41705, 14 CFR Part 382
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008*
    42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., Implementing regulations: 29 CFR Parts 1630, 1602 (Title I, EEOC), 28 CFR Part 35 (Title II, Department of Justice), 49 CFR Parts 27, 37, 38 (Title II, III, Department of Transportation), 28 CFR Part 36 (Title III, Department of Justice) and 47 CFR §§ 64.601 et seq. (Title IV, FCC)

U.S.C. refers to the United States Code. CFR refers to the Code of Federal Regulations.  FR refers to the Federal Register.
*The United States Department of Justice has stated the “Service Dogs in Training” are not granted civil rights protections to public access.

 

Additional State Level Protections:

Coming Soon

You Might Be Breaking The Law:

Because there a multiple active applicable laws to protect disabled Americans from discrimination and harassment, we are left with multiple legal definitions of who qualifies as a disabled person and what civil rights are being protected.  It’s important that both the disabled individual and the general public understand each of these legal definitions because they could unintended breaking a law if they don’t.

Today, the law most commonly discussed for disability civil rights in the United States is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 that was updated with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008.  However it was preceded by the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Rehab Act of 1973 and the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, which are concurrent active laws.

Civil Monetary Penalties:

28 C.F.R. Parts 36 and 85

On March 28, 2014, the Department of Justice issued a Final Rule that adjusts for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by the Civil Rights Division, including civil penalties available under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).   For the ADA, this adjustment increases the maximum civil penalty for a first violation under title III from $55,000 to $75,000; for a subsequent violation the new maximum is $150,000.  The new maximums apply only to violations occurring on or after April 28, 2014.

Service Dog Housing Guide: Protections Awarded by the Fair Housing Act Emotional Support Animal: Section 504

Service Dogs are animals that are specially designated for people suffering from physical, mental or emotional disorders like anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness, or panic attacks that are trained service animals who perform a. These service animals help their handlers with his or her day to day activities. Fair Housing Act for service dogs allows you to live with your pet hassle-free.

 

Legal Definitions Regarding FHA and Housing Protections

Coming Soon 

General Service Dog Housing Guideline

The ADA applies to housing programs administered by state and local governments, such as public housing authorities, and by places of public accommodation, such as public and private universities. In addition, the Fair Housing Act applies to virtually all types of housing, both public and privately-owned, including housing covered by the ADA.

Under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 for the Service Dogs, if the landlord has a ‘No Pet’ policy and a prospective tenant asks for accommodation with his or her emotional support animal, the landlord can ask a few questions.

 

Landlord Rights To Question Along These General Guidelines:​

If the answer is “yes”, then the prospective tenant or the tenant may have to show proof in the form of valid documents. They are;

  • Service animal letter from a licensed mental health professional.
  • Their medical records or mental health documentation, if the disability isn’t apparent.

If the answer is "no"

If the answer is “no” for either 2(a) or 2(b), then under the Fair Housing Act for Emotional Support Animals and Section 504 for Emotional Support Animals, the request for accommodation with an emotional support animal may be denied.

Service Dog Housing "Pet" Deposit Fees

If You Qualify To Keep Your Service Dog In Your Housing, Your "Pet Deposit Fee" Should Be Waived By The Landlord.

According to the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 for Service Animals, a landlord cannot ask a tenant for a pet deposit. However, if the animal does any damage to the property of the landowner, the landlord may ask money for the repair.

Read Our Service Dog Housing FAQ's

Service Dog Flying Guide: Protections Awarded by the Air Carrier Access Act

If you’re wondering if you can fly with a dog in cabin, the answer depends on whether or not your dog is an emotional support dog or qualified service dog, i.e. NOT just a “pet”. Federal regulations protect pet owners suffering from physical health conditions or mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression or PTSD. These laws allow you to bring a dog on a plane, provided it is a legitimate emotional support animal or service dog. If you want to fly with your dog in the cabin, outside of a carrier and without extra fees, all of this is possible and legal with an emotional support letter for your pet. If you wish to fly with your dog, your dog must be well-behaved and some airlines require conformation of public behavior training. Generally speaking, airlines can ask patients for their recommendation service dog letters. Along with the service dog letter, they also may ask you to fill in some forms. So, choose the best airline to fly with a dog accordingly.

The law that affords service dog  and their owners this special access is the Air Carrier Access Act. American carriers carriers flying into and out of the US cannot discriminate and must accommodate a mental or physical need for an assistance animal for those with respective disabilities.

NOTE: International Carriers Do NOT Have To Allow ESA's. However, International Carriers DO allow Service Dog's.

Does the ADA protect service animals on airlines?

NO

Legal Definitions Regarding ACAA and Airline Protections

General Service Dog Flying Guidelines

  • If your dog is a legal service dog , you can bring a dog on a plane for all domestic flights and all flights flying into and out of the US.
  • If you are flying with your dog, you cannot be seated in the exit row.
  • Your service dog cannot pose any harm or disturbance to your fellow passengers.
  • You need to contact your airline at least 48 hours prior to your flight to inform them that you are traveling with an emotional support dog.
  • You need to make sure that your dog is at its best behavior when you are at the airport and onboard the aircraft. Your service dog should not endanger or cause any discomfort to your fellow passengers or airline staff.

Service Dog Flying Fees

If You Qualify To Fly With Your Service Dog, Your "In-Cabin Pet Fees" Will Be Waived.

Read Our Service Dog Flying FAQ's

Service Dog Rights To Public Access: Protections Awarded by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Commonly refereed to as “public access,” qualified disabled Americans, including those using a prescribed service dog to mitigate a disability, have civil rights protections against discrimination in the activities of public accommodations on the basis of their disability under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Many states have enacted similar legal protections at their local level.

NOTE: International Carriers Do NOT Have To Allow ESA's. However, International Carriers DO allow Service Dog's.

Does the ADA protect service animals on airlines?

NO

Legal Definitions Regarding ACAA and Airline Protections

Coming Soon

General Service Dog Public Access Guidelines

The text of the ADA defines the term “commerce” as means of travel, trade, traffic, commerce, transportation or communications (A) among several states; (B) between any foreign country or territory or possession and any state; or (C) between point in the same state but through another state or foreign county.  The text of the ADA defines “commercial facilities” as facilities (A) that are intended for nonresidental use; and (B) whose operation will affect commerce.  Commerce does not include rail operations or locations exempted from coverage under the Fair Housing Act. (§ 12181 (1-2)).

The text of the ADA defines a “private entity” means any entity other than a public entity (§ 12181 (6)).  Requirements on state and local governments and departments, public entities, are found in Title II of the ADA.

The text of the ADA defines 12 areas of private entities that are considered public accommodations for the purposes of Title III, if the operations of such entities affect commerce:

(A) an inn, hotel, motel, or other place of lodging, except for an establishment located within a building that contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and that is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as the residence of such proprietor;

(B) a restaurant, bar, or other establishment serving food or drink;

(C) a motion picture house, theater, concert hall, stadium, or other place of exhibition entertainment;

(D) an auditorium, convention center, lecture hall, or other place of public gathering;

(E) a bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment;

(F) a laundromat, dry-cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of an accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital, or other service establishment;

(G) a terminal, depot, or other station used for specified public transportation;

(H) a museum, library, gallery, or other place of public display or collection;

(I) a park, zoo, amusement park, or other place of recreation;

(J) a nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private school, or other place of education;

(K) a day care center, senior citizen center, homeless shelter, food bank, adoption agency, or other social service center establishment; and

(L) a gymnasium, health spa, bowling alley, golf course, or other place of exercise or recreation.

Read Our Service Dog Public Access FAQ's

public service dog

Service Dog Rights To The Workplace: Protections Awarded by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Qualified disabled Americans can make a documented reasonable accommodation request of their employer at anytime for use of a service dog to mitigate their disability at the workplace.  The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title I covers most situations.  Employers with fewer than 15 employees, the federal government, private membership clubs and religious organizations are legally exempted from Title I, but could still approve a reasonable accommodation request on a voluntary basis.  The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for the regular administration of ADA Title I.

The EEOC has stated an employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business.  Accommodations vary depending upon the needs of the individual applicant or employee. Not all people with disabilities (or even all people with the same disability) will require the same accommodation. Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer’s size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation. If the employer can show that one particular reasonable accommodation will cause an undue hardship, it is not required to provide that reasonable accommodation.

An employer generally does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation unless an individual with a disability has asked for one. if an employer believes that a medical condition is causing a performance or conduct problem, it may ask the employee how to solve the problem and if the employee needs a reasonable accommodation. Once a reasonable accommodation is requested, the employer and the individual should discuss the individual’s needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation. Where more than one accommodation would work, the employer may choose the one that is less costly or that is easier to provide.  An employer may ask for documentation that describes the disability and ask your health care provider whether particular accommodations would meet the employee’s needs.

Legal Definitions Regarding ADA and Workplace Protections

Coming Soon

General Service Dog Workplace Access Guidelines

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including State and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations.

How do I know if I am protected by the ADA? To be protected, you must be a qualified individual with a disability. This means that you must have a disability as defined by the ADA. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, thinking, walking, breathing, or performing manual tasks. You also must be able to do the job you want or were hired to do, with or without reasonable accommodation.

What are my rights under the ADA? The ADA protects you from discrimination in all employment practices, including: job application procedures, hiring, firing, training, pay, promotion, benefits, and leave. You also have a right to be free from harassment because of your disability, and an employer may not fire or discipline you for asserting your rights under the ADA. Most importantly, you have a right to request a reasonable accommodation for the hiring process and on the job this includes the use of a service animal.

What should I do if I think my ADA rights have been violated?  You should contact the nearest office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Someone will help you determine whether you should file a charge of discrimination. Charges may be filed with the EEOC in person, by mail, or by telephone.

There are strict time frames for filing charges of employment discrimination. In most states, you have 300 days from the time the alleged discrimination occurred to file a charge, but in some states you may have only 180 days. The EEOC field office nearest you can tell you which time period applies to you. However, you should file a charge as soon as possible after you believe the discrimination occurred.

To contact the EEOC, look in your telephone directory under U.S. Government or call 1-800-669-4000 (voice) or 1-800-669-6820 (TTY).

Read Our Service Dog Workplace Access FAQ's

Service Dogs

FAQs

Here are some common questions about Service Dogs.

Service Dog Scams

Your service dog does NOT need to be registered.

Registering your service animal is a tool to use at your discretion.

There are no applicable government or public registries which would GRANT or EXTEND any rights to you, the consumer, that are not already awarded to you freely under the protection of the FHA or Air Association Act.

Public “registries” simply store your personal information on their private servers and in return they may offer some beneficial features to you, the consumer, and to the public.

Service Dog and ESA Registries are (usually) for-profit public websites that keep your relevant handler-team information on their servers.

Are Service Dog registries regulated, validated, monitored, censored, or do they in any way grant permissions or rights to the public?

No, no, no, no, and no.

The government does NOT recognize or issues certifications for ESA’s or Service Dogs. Any company that states that your “registration” somehow grants you rights is clearly misleading you.

Since the government does NOT issue certificates that also means there is no government validation of ESA’s or Service Dogs.

Your certification and registration on a public “registry” domain offers value if the registrar itself provides added value features. 

You are granted rights and protections, freely and with simple compliance, by the governing agency of purpose.

A registry can help provide training, resources, public awareness, and handler-team support.

Our opinion, most of them are, YES!

Most registries clearly mean to mislead the public into believing that “registration” may GRANT or EXTEND some right or added value to the consumer not already FREELY afforded to you by the government or applicable law.

The Open Range Academy Registration platform offers hundreds of value added features and resources to support the handler team.

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, training, and purpose according to ADA guidelines.

If a company offers you a “certification” without any qualifying training or evaluation, it would be similar to 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 and in fact you are probably breaking the law.

Your can dog can receive any certificate from any public entity. That certificate can only provide added value to the service dog team if you use it as validation of your training.

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 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.

In fact, by falsely identifying your animal as a service animal, without any formal training, you are actually breaking the law and could be fined up-to $75k in your first offence.

YES!

If your goal is to fly with your ESA or live with your ESA in a complex or housing development protected by the FHA.

You can simply COMPLY with their requirements and you are than protected under the relevant law.

There is nothing you can PAY for to become compliant – EXCEPT – for having an ESA Letter from a certified psychiatry (or similar) professional.

Oftentimes yes!

Becoming a compliant service dog team is more a matter of overall need and training. It is the clear definition of discrimination if certain conditions are excluded.

The purpose of the ADA laws is to protect those with disabilities.

This does not mean that you pet who comforts you but has no formal training to meet the needs of your condition qualifies as an ADA compliant service dog.

Speak with a coach to learn more.

Service Dog Letters

An doctors prescription Letter MAY be requested from your building manager/landlord and may be required for airline travel.

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

No, and we urge extreme caution when using an online programs to retrieve a service animal prescription Letter.

We recommend working with you doctor or working with a psychiatrist to obtain your prescription letter.

Service Dog Basics

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.

The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure.

Yes.  As long as the handler meets the definitions regarding disability and the service dog has been trained according to federal regulations.

No.  These terms are used to describe animals that 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.  However, some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places.  You may check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws. *This definition comes directly from the ADA website.

It depends. The ADA makes a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals. If the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal. However, if the dog’s mere presence provides comfort, that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA.

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

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

That depends.

There are a few regulations that define disability. If you qualify under these federal guidelines for your need and you train your service dog for public access and tasks, than yes, you would be protected under that federal mandate.

More often than not, no, you don’t need a doctors note. 

Why? Because most public and private agencies cannot request such documentation.

There are two instances in which a company or agency “may” request a doctor’s prescription letter; airlines and housing complexes. 

However, if your dog is qualified under federal regulations as a Service Dog, they may not require any prescription letter.

It is case specific.

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.

Airlines and housing complexes may require additional documentation and verification of training performed.

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

Emotional Support Animals are protected under federal law by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 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.

Trained Service Dogs and Psychiatric Support Dogs are protected by all federal mandates.

To get the most protection afforded by the Federal Government your dog should comply with ADA.

ESA’s do NOT have the same protections as Service Dogs under the ADA guidelines.

Click here to learn more.

Your dog needs to be trained to behave properly in public settings to meet ADA, ACAA, and FHA guidelines.

Your dog needs to be trained to complete handler-specific tasks to be qualified as a service dog or psychiatric support dog.

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.

Service Dog Public Access

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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