According to the ADA:
"A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability".
Our dogs can mean a lot to us. They provide us with limitless loyalty and unconditional affection. No matter what way our pets come into our lives, or what roles they play, dogs are forever man's best friend. Sometimes they are also man's best helper. With heightened senses and astounding alertness, it's no wonder our companions have turned into 'dogs with jobs'.
On the outside, service dogs seem to be surrounded in mystery and confusion. These working dogs are an important part of our communities and for people with disabilities. To bring light to these paramount puppers, we hope to share information on service dogs, the United States laws on service dogs, and proper etiquette when encountering a service dog team.
There is no law for registering service animals, though there are many fake registries online. One may also purchase service dog 'gear' such as harnesses or leashes, but to identify a real service animal, businesses are allowed to ask only two questions:
No registration or I.D. is required for a service animal.
Training a service dog is a lasting commitment for handlers and trainers. A service dog is never aggressive towards other people or animals, and must tolerate any environment. Service dogs may be obtained through reputable breeders or rescues which produce dogs with outstanding temperaments. There are also programs such as The Seeing Eye, which educates handlers and raises puppies to become Seeing Eye Dogs for the blind, and Warrior Canine Connection, which trains dogs as service animals for wounded warriors.
When working, service dogs should never be disturbed from performing their job. Always ask permission from the handler to pet the service dog, but chances are the dog is working and unable to interact with the public. But just like any other dog, service dogs are also an important part of their family and receive plenty of love from their handlers.
The best way to help our service dog communities is to respect the dogs and their handlers, and to continue educating others about the laws and requirements for service animals. For more information, we encourage you to visit the ADA website, and the Mass.gov page on service animals.
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