Carl with his service dog Merrick
Carl with his service dog Merrick

As a person who has used a service animal for just over 15 years, I can tell you I get stopped constantly and asked a lot of questions. I once even got stopped by Bill Gates of Microsoft; he asked me if my guide dog was a bomb sniffing dog.

Below are answers to some of the most common questions I get asked.

  • People with disabilities who use guide or service dogs can go everywhere.
  • A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • Examples of Service Animal include those who guide people who are blind, alert those who are deaf, pull a wheelchair, alert an individual to a seizure attack, remind one with a mental illness to take his/her medication, and much more.
  • A service animal is not a pet.
  • Do not touch the animal or give him/her treats without the permission of the owner.
  • Service animals are not required to be certified. If the person tells you it is a service animal, treat it as such.
  • A person is not required to carry proof of disability or to say why he/she requires the use of a service animal.
  • A service animal must be on a leash if local ordinances require that.  But a harness, special costume or muzzle are not required and are only present when needed for the animal to do its job.
  • If the animal is out of control or presents an active threat the handler may be required to remove it from the site.
  • A business is not required to walk or otherwise care for the animal.
  • If an individual asks that you hold a guide dog, and if it is appropriate to the situation, hold the leash not the harness.
  • Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.
  • An Emotional Support Animal is not a Service Animal.
  • A Service Animal cannot tell when a traffic signal changes color.
  • A Service Animal does not always know where it is. It is up to the handler to know where he/she is at all times.
  • According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA), a service animal can only be a dog.
  • A business or service cannot charge a customer extra for having a service animal.
  • My service animal is still smart even if he doesn’t know how to give “paw”.
  • Yes, my dog likes to play fetch.

The next time you see a service animal, remember these answers and tips. Also, remember to ask the handler what you can and should do, and ask yourself how you would like to be treated if you had a service animal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *