International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations.
This year, IADW was August 4-10, 2013. During that time, there was a considerable jump in news and questions about assistance dogs.
But, Dr. B is sorry to report, there were just as many inaccurate statements as correct ones. So, we thought it timely to go over the rules and regulations regarding assistance dogs (which include several categories, including service dogs).
First — we humans somehow manage to make the simplest things incredibly complex. The rules regarding assistance dogs is a perfect case in point. The ADA purposely made the rules regarding service animals extremely SIMPLE. Yet these few rules have been elaborated upon, reiterated, rewritten and re-posted — incorrectly — by the thousands. I am continually amazed at the things I find (particularly on the web) that appear “authentic” and are completely wrong. So, let’s review: What is the law regarding service animals?
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Ta da! That’s it! For the official publication, go to: http://www.ada.gov/serviceanimals2010.htm
OK – I have to fess up that there are some additional aspects, such as regulations under the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Act, but both of these Acts are not complicated reading. In fact, each helps to explain the rights of a person who has an assistance dog. Likewise, additional reading of the ADA regulations gives additional information to define specific aspects of the regulation, such as an explanation for what constitutes a disability, etc. (A separate provision includes miniature horses as designated service animals.)
My “Pet” Peeve
Since I’m going on about rules and regulations, here’s a personal reaction to what I’ve seen as the most oft-repeated inaccuracy. Let me say it loud and clear: A pet who gives love and comfort is NOT a service dog. Doesn’t every dog give us love and comfort? Isn’t that why the human-dog bond may be the strongest between any two species and has endured all these centuries?
Okay — I’m off to do my errands today and taking my service dog to help me. But, before I go, I’m giving each of the two Labradors who also share our home some play time and attention, to let them know how much I appreciate the love and comfort they give to me. But they’re NOT service dogs. The two Labs are our family’s pets and no less loved than the other furry one who had specialized training and wears a harness.