September is National Service Dog Month, a special time of the year devoted to the appreciation of service dogs, and the incredible work they do for countless people around the world on daily basis.
For many, dogs are a best friend, a shoulder to cry on, or a pal to play with, but for others, dogs are a literal lifeline, and provide essential support to those in need. National Service Dog Month is all about raising awareness for these furry heroes, better known as a service dogs.
Service dogs are dogs that have been specifically trained to perform a task or several tasks in order to assist individuals with disabilities. There is no specific breed that a dog must be in order to be a service dog, rather it is the behavioural characteristics that qualify a dog as a service dog. Some service dogs are trained to sniff out low blood sugar levels, some guide their visually impaired owners through busy intersections and public transit, while other are trained to retrieve and carry heavy objects. No matter the task, all service dogs play an important role in society.
As business owners, employees and members of the public, we have to remember to respect service dogs and their handlers. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are only two questions that business may ask a service dog’s handler, and those questions are:
- Is the service dog required because of a disability;
- What task has the service dog been performed to train.
They may not ask any other questions, including specifics of your disability or the details of your dog’s training. At the end of the day, if your dog has been trained to perform a specific task, remains calm, and is properly trained to behave as a service dog in public, your dog is a service dog. In addition, service dogs are not required to be “professionally” trained. Any trainers stating that ONLY professionally trained service dogs have public access rights are making false claims. Service dogs are not required to wear vests, or any formal identifiers either so it is not always obvious which dogs are truly service dogs.
Many individuals who utilize service dogs choose to voluntarily register their dogs as service dogs in order to demonstrate to third parties that their dog is in fact a service dog. It has been proven to help, and often provides comfort to handlers to have in case they are questioned.
Register now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog Identification and Certification