Service animals help millions of people with disabilities live normal lives, but many people don’t know much about them. These pets are specially trained to perform tasks like navigating a busy street or alerting people of the sound of something important like a fire alarm.
Service animals can even help those with disabilities stay calm during stressful events. Because these animals are so essential to their owners’ well-being, businesses must allow service animals inside their establishments. You may not know many things about service animals, but that changes now.
Not all dogs
Service animals come in many shapes and sizes. The American Disabilities Act defines a service animal as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to assist an individual with a disability.” This means that it can be a horse, cat, or goat; if it meets this definition, it is considered a service animal.
Service animals can be trained to help with a wide range of disabilities—from assisting individuals with mobility impairments to helping those who suffer from seizures or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
No extra fee
A business must allow you to bring your service dog in public areas where customers are allowed, even if other pets are not permitted. You don’t have to pay an extra fee for your service animal. If a business does charge you extra for your service animal, they are violating the ADA.
Your service animal can accompany you almost anywhere. Service animals are allowed in virtually any public space, including stores and restaurants. They’re also permitted on buses, trains, airplanes, and other forms of transportation. If you’re staying at a hotel or other type of lodging facility while traveling, your service animal can come with you as well.
Another thing you may not know about service animals is that a person is not required to carry any paperwork or identification showing a need for the animal. While some people do choose to obtain special tags or vests for their animals, this isn’t required by law—and it certainly doesn’t mean your animal won’t be allowed into public places if he isn’t wearing one.
Creating a space in your home
A service animal is treated as a family member and cared for as any pet would be. There may be requirements like allowing a dog to sleep in the bedroom.
When pets live in a home, routine maintenance is required. Keep required cleaning in mind when choosing the right service animal for your situation. It isn’t impossible; there are maintenance steps for pet owners that will keep your home looking and smelling inviting.
Your support system
This four-legged member of your support system is also a member of your family. Remember, for all the unique rights that service animals have, they’re still subject to many of the same rules as pets. In addition to being expected to behave in public and be well-behaved around other people, it’s important that owners take care of their animals and make sure they’re healthy and cared for.