Registration or certification for service animals

Is there any kind of registration or certification for service animals? Some way for people to prove their dog is a service animal and not just a pet? There doesn’t seem to be one, or if there is, it’s not required for people to bring their pets into areas where only service animals are allowed.

Here’s what the Federal Government has to say about it:

From here:

No, there is no requirement for a service animal to be registered or certified. Many people actually train their own pets to become service animals. However, the animal is NOT protected under ADA unless it has been trained to perform specific behaviors that assist the disabled person. And if the animal displays disruptive behaviors you can ask that it be removed. You also are not legally allowed to ask specific questions about a person’s disability or what the dog actually does other than confirming it’s a service dog.

This is kind of a tricky situation. It’s pretty obvious that a dog guiding a blind person is performing a service; it’s not so obvious when a diabetic or seizure alert dog appears to just be hanging around doing nothing, even though the dog has saved the person’s life repeatedly in the past.

You can ask at least two questions under federal law: (1) Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability? (2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

Under the Americans with Diabilities Act, dogs that merely provide comfort or emotional support are not afforded protection.

State laws may proved additional protections for people relying on service animals so the best answer may depend on where you are.

Good information here: ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Service Animals

Depending on jurisdiction, landlords may be able to require a statement from a doctor designating an animal as a service animal. Our local doctors here are very familiar with this process and usually use a form letter for this, and they are generally prompt filling it out for the prospective tenant. There’s a very high percentage of rental units which have a “no pets allowed” rule, so this is the procedure used to open up this housing basically saying “it’s not a pet, it’s a service animal, your rule can’t be enforced”.

I think it’s fair to say landlords get special consideration in this matter. If one brings their dog into Walmart, it’s just there for an hour or so, not particularly damaging. However, in a rental unit, this is where the animal lives and spends a considerable amount of time … and this is generally damaging even in the best of circumstances, they shed, they chew, they have fleas, they drool, they barf, the list goes on.

The key legal test here is “reasonable accommodation” … I’m guessing it’s unreasonable to expect this letter in a retail environment, whereas it is reasonable in the housing environment … or perhaps landlords get their own way in the courts and legislatures.

My sister recently moved into senior housing. She claimed her dog as a service animal in order to be allowed to bring him with her. I can confidently say she is lying through her teeth.

Maybe the dog just isn’t very good at biting her every time she lies … doesn’t mean it’s not there to perform such a service.

Oh, please. Now you’re going to tell me that the lady on the bus with the aggressive and antisocial toy chihuahua was not honest about relying on her service animal for undisclosed disabilities? :slight_smile:

If you exclude all the blind people whose guide/leader/Seeing Eye dogs I met when I was a Deaf-blind interpreter at an NFB convention, I probably know equal numbers of people who have actual service dogs, and people who lie so they can take their pets wherever they want. Some have fake vests they made themselves. One has not even had her fake service animal fixed and its shots are not up-to-date all the time. At least one does have an extremely well-trained fake dog-- this dog could probably win obedience trials-- but on the whole, the fake service dogs are not well-behaved, and not even very well house-broken. They make life difficult for the people with real service dogs.

I don’t know what the solution is, because I don’t think people should have to disclose information about disabilities just to claim the right to have a dog, but IME, abuse of the service dog label is out of control.

Perhaps her mental illness is abusing her civil rights … carrying around an ankle-biter keeps her from pissing on the City Hall steps. Oh … and disruptive behavior is explicitly excluded from ADA protection, she could have been tossed off even with the prescription in hand.

um, actually well-trained well-cared for service dogs cause no damage to rental units, unlike say, children or messy adults who like to nail things to the walls or draw on them with permanent markers and tend to spill red wine on the floor and bring bed bugs back from their business trips and barf when they get sick or drink too much.

This. I know a few people who are completely dependent on service dogs and they detest fakers. The most important aspect of being a service dog is being “invisible” in public. The dogs quietly blend in. If a dog is not, it’s probably not a service dog.

When we raised guide dog puppies, besides the vest we had a letter stating that they were associated with GDB. I personally never had to use it. It was folded into a pouch in her collar.
I’m with RivkahChaya. Our four dogs went through a lot of training, and not all dogs make it. First they have been bred to be guides over many generations. Second you expose them to lots of conditions they will get into in service.
Calling my random dog a service dog is a lot different from a blind person being assigned a dog what has gone through 18 months of training and passed.

In all seriousness, it’s been my experience that people who need to carry their near-feral mini dogs around with them, are actually far better off when they are occupied with fluffing and rearranging its little outfit. Their behavior toward others in a line, or wait staff in a restaurant, gets absolutely abominable when they are deprived of their little objets de l’attention.

Let the dog handle it, he’s bred to the task.

Service animal (dog–although others animals are allowed) owner for 10 years here.

I am not blind, so the issue is challenged constantly.

Get a license. Find out from your city how to do it; ordinarily medical documentation is required. Don’t be an asshole and lie to whomever, or Doctor-shop till you find one who believes your lies, or is also an asshole, who will verify your false claims.

I’m not sure if you’re an American, but if you’re from Canada–I’ve only heard this as an anecdote, so it may be wrong–actual competence from the animal has to be demonstrated to a bureaucrat.

Reasonable accommodation refers to employment practices with respect to persons with disabilities (PWD).

The actual term when applied to service animals is reasonable modification.
[li]If you are a PWD and require a work change with respect to your service animal, it’s reasonable accommodation.[/li][li]If you are a PWD with a service animal and bring it into the store (as a customer), the store must make reasonable modifications to their story policy about service animals.[/li][/ul]

A woman came into my business the other day with a golden retriever wearing a service animal vest. After she left, we were discussing how absolutely normal the woman appeared to be.

She had paid with a credit card, so one of my nosy employees looked her name up online. It turns out she is extremely lucky to be alive. Several news reports discussed the dog. I hope she and the dog are back soon.

One of our local Walmarts instructed their employees to not ask, and scrapped off the “no dogs allowed” stickers from the front doors. So far it appears to not be a problem just letting everyone bring their dogs in. I kinda of enjoy it, with some lovely thirty-something woman I stare at the dog saying how beautiful the coat is and a nice healthy build … and knows how to train a dog too …