First you should know that there is NO legal requirement for a Service Animal to be Certified/Registered etc… The ADA law does not require the dog to wear a vest or have an ID card. Some states provide for registration as a means of special identification.
Many legitimate Service Dog organizations “certify” service dogs under their programs, they are simply endorsing that the dog has received training that is of the quality they require and that the dog is appropriate for public access.
Certification does not mean an individual dog is a service dog. Neither does registration or an official looking ID. There are several businesses selling fake certification, registration and IDs over the Internet. All one needs to do to get these products is pay a fee. Their dog is never tested and their disability is never verified. All the product really means is that the person was willing to pay money to get it.
Those who purchase fake certification do so because they, or those they encounter, doubt their dog's real status and it is easier to purchase a fake document than to actually get their dog properly trained and evaluated by an expert.
There are criminal penalties for falsely claiming a pet as a service animal. These penalties can range from a small fine, to one over $1,000 or a few days in jail up to a year in jail, depending on how the offense is committed and where. In some cases, the dog is confiscated and the owner may have a lengthy court battle to get the dog back.
Additionally, that untrained dog could cause a disabled person to be injured by distracting their trained legitimate Service Dog!
So if you're thinking of passing your pet off as a service dog,
ask yourself this question; Is it's really worth it?
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for title II (State and local government services) and title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities) on September 15, 2010, in the Federal Register. These requirements, or rules, clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 20 years and contain new, and updated, requirements, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards).
This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s new regulations.
How “Service Animal” Is Defined
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act. Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.
Where Service Animals Are Allowed
Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.
Service Animals Must Be Under Control
Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals
In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.) Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.
For more information about the ADA, please visit our website or call our toll-free number.
ADA Website: www.ADA.gov
To receive e-mail notifications when new ADA information is available, visit the ADA Website’s home page and click the link near the top of the middle column.
ADA Information Line 800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY)
24 hours a day to order publications by mail.
M-W, F 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Th 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) to speak with an ADA Specialist. All calls are confidential. For persons with disabilities, this publication is available in alternate formats.
Duplication of this document is encouraged- July 2011
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