How much do you know about service animals?
Under titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are meant to assist people with disabilities in going about their daily lives.
This post will outline the specifics—from what a service animal is to how to get one.
What Is a Service Animal?
The ADA defines service animals as dogs who are individually trained to work or complete tasks for people with disabilities. (As of 2010, service animals can only be dogs.)
Examples of this type of work include:
Guiding the blind
Calming people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Protecting a person experiencing a seizure
Reminding individuals with mental health challenges to take their prescribed medications
Dogs whose main function is to offer comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. These animals are known as “emotional support animals.” Some state and local governments, however, have a broader definition of service animals than the ADA.
Contact your state attorney general’s office for details.
Who Can Get a Service Animal?
While qualifying for a service animal is relatively simple, getting a service dog is generally more difficult.
To qualify for one, all you need is written documentation from a licensed healthcare provider stating that you are being treated for a physical or emotional disability, or a psychiatric disorder. The practitioner must also state that getting a service animal could serve as a potential treatment.
From there, you can look to adopt a dog who has been trained to accommodate your condition or conditions like yours. This is the part that can get a little tricky. Since training a service dog takes time and quite a bit of effort, people usually get these animals from a home or shelter that has already trained them.
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