What Does a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate Look Like?

What Does a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate Look Like?

Service dogs have the incredible ability to provide life-enhancing aid, allowing those who live with disabilities to enhance their independence and engage in activities that would otherwise be challenging or impossible.

For those who rely on the help and companionship of four legged aid, navigating the process of acquiring a service dog can be overwhelming. Where does one begin when seeking a service dog? What does a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate look like? In this short blog, we will address this query and discuss what a legitimate service dog certificate is, and whether or not it is right for you.

Understanding Service Dog Registration

The realm of service dog registration and service dog certificates is confusing and often difficult to understand. There are mountains of misinformation on the internet, and the public is often misinformed and uneducated on the matter. Unfortunately, this leads to unlawful denials for many handlers of legitimate service dogs.  If you are concerned about how to ensure you properly register your service dog and looking to obtain a service dog certificate, then this article is for you.

What Does a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate Look Like?

A service dog registration comes with both a certificate as well as digital ID which provides confirmation of the name of the handler, the name and breed of the service dog, the date of registration, the location of registration and finally, it will state a registration number which is publicly searchable. The IDs are the primary identification document and are intended to be used to confirm proof of registration when interacting with the public in order to help ease the lives of handlers.

What Laws Govern the Use of Service Dogs?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which governs the use of service dogs, these exceptional canines are “individually trained to perform tasks or work for individuals with disabilities.” Service dogs come in different types, each trained to assist with specific disabilities. The key factor here is that service dogs must be trained. There is no law requiring professional training so it is permissible to self-train service dogs.

A legitimate service dog is permitted in all areas where the public is generally permitted. This means service dogs may accompany you in restaurants, shopping malls, airports and forms of public transportation.

Thanks to the Fair Housing Act (FHA), another piece of federal legislation, service dogs are even permitted to reside with their handlers in housing accommodations that otherwise prohibit pets. This legal provision recognizes service dogs as working animals and acknowledges their indispensability, distinguishing them from regular pets.

How to Obtain a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate

There are many private online organizations and websites that offer service dog certificates, many of which are for-profit businesses. The key distinction in these organizations are typically price, form of ID and public reputation, all of which are important factors. When choosing an organization, it is critical to look for an ID that comes with a publicly searchable ID registration number. This ensures that your ID can be independently verified by third parties in order to avoid public disputes. Legitimate businesses will also often offer ancillary accessories such as bandana collars, and ID tags. These are helpful items that can be used to clearly designate service dog status in a public setting without having to engage with any third parties.

How do I Know if I have a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate?

Whether you are a service dog owner, or a business owner looking to verify the legitimacy of a service dog certificate, it is important to understand that service dog certificates are not legally required, and service dog owners are not required to present any documentation in order to enforce their rights. The primary function of a service dog certificate is to help handlers easily enforce their rights in public and avoid disputes with third parties. Because the domain is largely unregulated, there are many fake certificates that pet owners may attempt to use to pass of their pets as service dogs. Some key things to look out for when assessing the legitimacy of a service dog certificate are set out below.

Service Dog Registration Number

The documentation should clearly state, or directly lead to a registration number which is maintained in a public database.

Service Dog Handler Information

The handler’s name should be clearly stated. Only one handler should be stated as service dogs are associated with one handler.

Service Dog Information

The name and breed of the Service Dog should be clearly stated


The state or province in which the owner resides should be stated

 Registration Date

The date on which the service dog was registered should be stated.

What Does a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate Look Like?
What Does a Legitimate Service Dog Certificate Look Like?

Register Your Service Dog With servicedogcertificates.org Today

Here at servicedogcertificates.org, we have a broad interest in educating the public on the key role that service dogs play in many people’s lives. We offer guidance and even offer critical live support to anyone in need. While there may not be registration requirements, we always recommended possessing a digital ID in order avoid getting into disputes with third parties about the validity of the service dog’s registration.

Any dog that meets the ADAs definition of a service dog, is by law, a true and valid service dog.  As a matter of convenience and to ensure proper access as intended by the ADA, many service dog handlers choose to voluntarily register their dogs as service dogs and carry a digital ID card and/or certificate with them. Our ID’s are compatible with both Apple and Google wallet for ease of presentation and access while out in public. This can prevent uncomfortable situations or confusion when interacting with staff at public establishments. 

Service Dogs Differ from Emotional Support Animals

It’s important to note that Emotional Support Animals (ESA) differ significantly from service dogs, as they are not limited to being dogs and can encompass various other species, although dogs remain a popular choice as ESAs.

ESAs, as the name implies, offer emotional support to their owners through their presence. Many individuals find comfort in the companionship of an animal, and the act of petting or cuddling an ESA can assist in managing symptoms associated with mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Unlike service dogs, ESAs do not require training.  However, because they are not specifically trained to perform tasks for their owners, ESAs are not granted the same privileges as service dogs, such as access to public places or accompanying their owners on airplanes.

Similar to service dogs, ESAs are permitted to reside with their owners even in housing

If your disability primarily pertains to mental health and you do not require a dog to accompany you everywhere, it might be worth considering whether an ESA would be a more suitable option. A legitimate Emotional Support Animal Certificate looks very similar to a Service Dog Certificate, although it will clearly denote “Emotional Support Animal”.

Register now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog Identification and Certification.