Service Dogs,
Emotional Support Animals
and Therapy Dogs

About Service Dogs

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) grants special access and rights to service dogs for individuals with disabilities. Incomplete knowledge of the ADA, as well as misunderstanding the differences between service dogs, emotional support animals and therapy dogs, has created the potential to abuse the system and resulted in recent controversy.

To help clear up some of the confusion and misinformation, we list below some excerpts from Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animalsas well as general information about emotional support animals (ESAs) and therapy dogs, explaining what they are and how they differ from service dogs in both function and legal rights.

But first, In response to common questions about service dogs:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require service dogs to be registered or certified. They also are not required to wear a harness or vest identifying them as service dogs.
  • The only two questions a business may legally ask regarding a service dog is (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. K9s For Camo does provide our veteran K9 teams ID cards to help ease situations in which the validity of the K9 service dog is questioned, but they are not legally required to show them.
  • ESAs and therapy dogs are not service dogs, as defined by the ADA, and do not have the same rights to public access as service dogs (see below for more information about ESAs and therapy dogs).

It is unethical, and in some states, illegal to misrepresent an animal as a service animal.

Excerpts from Revised ADA Requirements:
Service Animals

How “Service Animal” is Defined
Service animals are defined as dogs who are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. 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.

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.

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
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (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.

A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken.

People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.

for the complete ADA document:  www.ada.gov/service_animals_

for service dog laws by statehttps://www.animallaw.info/topic/table-state-assistance-animal-laws

About Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs):

  • Provide therapeutic support to people with psychological conditions, such as anxiety or PTSD.
  • Must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional.
  • Are not the same as psychiatric service dogs. ESAs are not required to be trained, nor are they required to perform specific tasks. They provide emotional support through their companionship and by comforting their owner.
  • Are specifically excluded by the American Disabilities Act and do not have the same legal access to public places as service dogs. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
  • Are only legally granted special access on airplanes and housing. Both the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act broaden the definition of assistance animal to include ESAs:

– The Air Carrier Access Act allows ESAs to accompany their owner in the cabin of commercial airplanes. Airlines can require documentation and rules vary from airline to airline.

– The Fair Housing Act  also includes ESAs in the definition of assistance animal and requires that ESAs be allowed in many housing situations otherwise banning pets.

Reminder: It is unethical, and in some states illegal, to misrepresent an Emotional Support Animal as a service animal.

More reading:  AKC – Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

About Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dogs:

  • Most commonly work with their owner as a team, visiting people in need of comfort or cheering up. They may help combat loneliness in nursing homes, fear in hospitals, or alleviate the stress of a child learning to read. Some reside in facilities, usually nursing homes, while others assist in rehabilitation facilities.

  • Are generally friendly, well-mannered and well-trained in obedience. Most, at minimum, are required to earn the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification, and usually are tested further to gage temperament and reactions to stimuli they may encounter while “on duty” (i.e. wheelchairs, children, loud noises…).
  • Are not trained to perform specific tasks to assist an individual with a disability.
  • Are not covered under the ADA and do not have any designated legal rights to access public places. Institutions, such as hospitals and nursing homes, that otherwise may ban pets, might grant access to therapy dogs, but are not legally required to do so.

Reminder: It is unethical, and in some states illegal, to misrepresent a therapy dog as a service animal.

More reading:  AKC Therapy Dog Program

 

K9s For Camo

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Liberty Magill

Liberty is an Alaskan Malamute who was brought to our program by his veteran. Liberty started training as a puppy and has passed all classes with flying colors. He is task trained to bring his veteran his cane, if needed, and pick other items up off the ground and bring them to his veteran. He also is trained for mobility assistance and to help his veteran up if he falls down.

Serve proudly, Liberty! 

Lilly

Lilly is a black lab who was brought into the program by her veteran. She started the program as a puppy. This K9 and veteran team have passed their AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests. Lilly is trained to help with PTSD and is beginning to alert for blood sugar levels as well. She will post or block in public if her handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Lilly has been to college classes with her veteran and they both walked the stage together at graduation as her veteran received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Serve proudly, Lilly!

Jazzy

Jazzy is a Collie Mix who was brought into the program by her veteran. This K9 and veteran team have passed their AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests. Jazzy is trained to help her Vietnam veteran with mobility and stability and to help him keep from falling. She is task-trained to pause or stop when he approaches ramps or small changes in ground elevation that her veteran may not notice, alerting him and helping him navigate the terrain.

Serve proudly, Jazzy!

Liberty Evans

Liberty is a black lab  who was adopted from HFLCS Canine and Feline Rescue in Buffalo, Missouri. She was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become a seizure blocking dog for a Navy veteran; she cushions and comforts our veteran if she has a seizure, then finds and alerts our veteran’s husband. Liberty is also trained to help with PTSD: she has the ability to pick up and retrieve items, and turn lights on and off. She will post or block in public if her handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between herself and other people. Liberty trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. She has passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Liberty!

Tank

Tank is a Shar Pei Ridgeback mix who was adopted from Valley Hills Rescue in Springfield, Missouri. Valley Hills adopted him the day before he was due to be put to death. He was then adopted by K9s For Camo. Tank is task trained to pick up and bring medicine, turn on lights, open doors and assist with mobility. He is also trained to help mitigate the effects of PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Tank trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. He has passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests. He is currently serving well and proud!

Serve proudly, Tank!

Beretta

Beretta was rescued from death row due to having a condition that didn't allow her to open her eyes. She had inverted eyelids and could not see. Valley Hills Rescue rescued her and we adopted her from Valley Hills. After she had surgery to correct her eyes, she was task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert her veteran if someone is walking up behind him. She is also trained to help her veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Beretta! 

Cheyenne

Cheyenne is a hound mix who was adopted from HFLCS Canine and Feline Rescue in Buffalo, Missouri. She was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become an alert dog for a veteran with narcolepsy. Cheyenne is trained to wake her veteran if he falls asleep and will alert him if he begins to blackout while walking, preventing him from falling. She is also trained for PTSD and will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Cheyenne trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. She has passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Cheyenne!

Thistle May

Thistle was rescued from the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri. He started out in the Puppy for Parole program at Ozark Correctional Facility. We saw a lot of promise in him, so we transferred him to the K9s For Camo program. He is task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert his veteran if someone is walking up behind him. He is also task trained to help his veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Thistle!

Moose

Moose is a blood hound mix who was adopted from Valley Hills Rescue in Springfield, Missouri. Valley Hills adopted him just a few days before he would have been put to death. He was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become a stability dog for a Vietnam veteran. Moose is also trained to help with PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Moose did training at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at the Ozark Correctional Center. He has passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Moose!

Chase

Chase is an American Bulldog mix who was adopted from Valley Hills Rescue in Springfield, MO. Valley Hills adopted him the day before he was supposed to be euthanized. He was then adopted by K9s For Camo. Chase has been trained to pick up and bring medicine, turn on lights and open doors. He is also trained to help mitigate effects of PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Chase trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at Ozark Correctional Center. He has passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification test and is fully task trained. He will currently finishing his advanced classes with his Veteran. 

Serve proudly Chase!

Annie

Annie is a black lab mix who was adopted from HFLCS in Buffalo MO. She was then adopted by K9s For Camo to become a battle buddy for one of our returning heroes. Annie is also trained to help with PTSD; she has the ability to pick up items, turn lights on and off, and will bring her leash and other items to her veteran, who is in a mobility chair. She will post or block in public if her handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between himself and other people. Annie trained at the Howliday Inn Pet Resort and also at Ozark Correctional Center. She has passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine, Urban CGC and Public Access certification tests.

Serve proudly, Annie!

Opha Mae

Opha Mae was named after the first ever female Marine. She was rescued from Valley Hills Rescue. She has been task trained for PTSD and will start her training for diabetic alert in the upcoming months!

Serve proudly, Opha Mae!

Mytchal

Mytchal is a German Shepherd who was brought into our program by his veteran. He is being  trained to help mitigate the effects PTSD. He will post or block in public if his handler feels overwhelmed or wants a barrier between herself and other people. 

Mytchal is serving proudly!

Calypso

Calypso is a German Shepherd brought to the program by his veteran. She has been task trained to help mitigate the effects of PTSD and is in training to help with mobility, balance, and picking up items for her vet.

Serve proudly, Calypso! 

Remington

Remington was rescued from Valley Hills Rescue.  He is task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert his veteran if someone is walking up behind him. He is also task trained to help his veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Remington! 

Sasha

Sasha was rescued from the Humane Society.  She is task trained to retrieve, post, block, cover and alert her veteran if someone is walking up behind him. She is also task trained to help her veteran mitigate the effects of PTSD.

Serve proudly, Sasha! 

Avalanche

Avalanche was rescued from HFLCS Rescue. He is trained to help with mitigating the effects of PTSD and also for balance and stability. 

Serve proudly, Avalanche!