The Rights of Businesses – Part 1

Posted June 26, 2020 by growingupguidepup

For more details on our products and services, please feel free to visit us at: service dog etiquette, service dog puppy raiser, guide dog, puppy in training, assistance dog.

Most people are aware that service dogs must be permitted to accompany their disabled handlers into non-pet friendly businesses. Unfortunately, many business owners are not aware that they too have rights concerning service dogs, and whether or not those service dogs are legally allowed to be in their business. There is much misinformation and fear surrounding the rights of service dog handlers, and thus, business owners. This article hopes to clear up some of these misconceptions, and to educate businesses on their rights, outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“…there has been an influx of pet owners dressing up their pets in vests and bringing them in public by claiming they are a service dog.”
What is a service dog?
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a Service Animal as:
“A dog that has been house broken and 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.”
Contrary to popular misconception, a service dog can be any breed, or combination of breeds, of any dog. This could be your standard Labrador Retriever, or it could be a Terrier mix. Breeds are not discounted based on size, breed specific legislation, or public opinion. I personally work an American Bulldog/English Pointer mix named Cow. You cannot determine whether or not a dog is a service dog just by looking at their appearance.
Cow mugs for the camera
You also cannot determine a service dog by the gear they are wearing. The ADA permits disabled handlers to work their service dog in whatever gear they so choose; this includes working the dog completely free of any identifying gear. Some handlers choose to dress their dogs in a singular vest or cape with patches identifying the dog, and possibly asking the public not to pet or distract the dog. Some handlers require more intricate gear to accommodate their disability, such as a guide harness, or a mobility harness. Some handlers use a simple bandanna, a leash wrap stating “service dog,” or no gear at all.
What if I don’t think a dog is a service dog?
This is a fair question. Unfortunately, as any business owner will tell you, there has been an influx of pet owners dressing up their pets in vests and bringing them in public by claiming they are a service dog. Most businesses leave it at that, despite the dog’s misbehavior, out of fear or being sued or vilified by the media for discrimination.
As a business owner or employee, you have quite a few rights in this situation. First, per the ADA, you are allowed to ask two questions of any service dog handler:
“(1) is the dog a service animal 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.”
What do they mean by “task”? A task is considered any trained behavior that mitigates the handler’s disability. For example, this includes, but is not limited to, mobility and balance assistance, medical alert (cardiac alert, diabetic alert, seizure alert, blood pressure alert, etc.), guiding, alerting their Deaf handler to sounds, pulling wheelchairs, picking up dropped items, performing grounding tasks for psychiatric disorders, medication reminders, seizure response, blocking the individual from a crowd, removing the dissociated handler from the public space, alerting a person with PTSD that a stranger is coming up behind them, and more.
Pumpkin Balancing Level: Expert. This, unfortunately, is not considered a task.
What is NOT meant by “task,” includes, but is not limited to, emotional support, comfort, protection, intimidation, or any other benefits unrelated to disability. While service dogs may provide comfort by their mere presence, this is not considered a task under the ADA. If the animal is not trained to do anything else but provide comfort or emotional support, then they are not a service animal, even if their owner is disabled. More importantly, service dogs MAY NOT be used for protection or intimidation. Service dogs may intimidate people by their very presence, but this is not considered a task, and is highly frowned upon by the Department of Justice and other handlers. Service dogs should not have a high protection drive, and should not automatically protect their handler unless genuine harm is befalling them. After such an event, service dogs should be reevaluated by a qualified behaviorist to confirm that they are still fit to work around the public.
What about documentation or certification that the dog is indeed a service animal? This will come as a surprise to most people, but there is no such thing as a certification or registration for service dogs. As a result, there is not legal identification or “paper” for service animals, and asking for one will only get you a long lecture by the handler, a sobbing handler in the middle of a panic attack, or a call to the Department of Justice or the police. In my personal experience, the people who carry and offer identification for their dogs are typically pet owners who have paid $75 to “register” their pet on a scam website in return for a vest, identification card, and paperwork stating that the dog is a service dog. This does not require any training or proof that the person is disabled and the dog is trained. It’s simply a scam that needs to be made illegal and prosecuted. Of course, this does not include paperwork from specific programs that some handlers carry as an extra precaution, or the fake identification that some legitimate handlers carry and use as a last resort if asked for it by an uninformed manager, as the handler’s disability prevents them from educating the often-belligerent employee.
How can I tell if a dog is a service dog?
Despite the lack of uniformity and identification amongst service dogs and their handlers, there are a few good ways to tell if a dog is really a service dog. The most important, and surest sign of a dog’s legitimacy and training is behavior. Behavior always shows, whether it be the behavior of the dog or the handler.
Cow thinks that if he stares deeply into my soul and makes googly eyes—also known as checking in—I’ll give him food. He’s usually right.
A service dog will have their basic obedience down pat. They will not be incessantly sniffing merchandise, soliciting attention or barking at passersby, taking products off shelves, or leaving their handler to explore on their own. While some handlers do carry their small service dogs in their arms or in a sling, businesses do not have to allow dogs in shopping carts or baskets, and service dogs should never be on the business’ furniture unless their task demands it, such as performing deep pressure therapy on the lap of the handler. However, even during this task, the dog should not be using this opportunity to sniff food on the table of a restaurant or merchandise on higher shelves. The dog should be focused on their handler, not on the benefits of being higher than the floor.
For more details on our products and services, please feel free to visit us at: service dog etiquette, service dog puppy raiser, guide dog, puppy in training, assistance dog.
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Issued By growingupguidepup
Country United States
Categories Business
Last Updated June 26, 2020