Service animals are important to the daily lives of some individuals and are trained to perform certain tasks that are directly related to the disabilities of these individuals. Unfortunately, some individuals see service animals as a way around certain animal restrictions enforced by residential areas. However, it is needless to say, that attempting to use service animals in this way is not legal. In order to be legal, the owner must have a service animal registration form a certain entity for their dog.
Comfort Animals Are Not Service Animals
While comfort animals or emotional support animals may have their own certification, this does not necessarily mean that it qualifies for a service animal certification. Service animals that help owners prevent anxiety attacks or have other specific tasks that revolve around the owner’s disability and/or mental health, they may qualify as a service animal. However, if the animal’s job is to merely provide support or comfort, they probably will not qualify. It is important to note that these laws are not as clear as they may seem, and change based on state and jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions allow emotional support animals to be in public places with their owner but may require them to be leashed and/or to wear a vest or badge.
Owning Service Animals
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are required to undergo training, whether it is provided by their owner or a third party. There is no requirement for the length of training as this is solely left up to the owner. However, the animal should be generally easy to handle in public and crowded places and maintain a low stress level when in these areas. Service animals should also be within the handler’s control when out in public. Generally, this means that the animal must be on a leash and in close proximity to the owner. If the animal is out of control in a business or organization, the staff may ask for the animal to be removed and is within their right to do so. Service animals must be registered and receive the appropriate vaccinations just like any other pet. Though a specific service animal registration is not necessary and can’t be required, it may add to the validity of the service animal. Similarly, service animals are not required to have a certain badge, vest, or other emblem that identifies them as such.