UNITED STATES—Over the last few years, the topic of service animals and emotional support animals has been in the news quite a bit. Of course, these are often for lurid reasons such as when people push their privileges a little too far.
Nevertheless, if you have been hearing more and more about these wonderful animals, you may just be wondering if your pet can qualify. It is possible that you may be suffering from an ailment that your pet can help you with.
Well, there is actually a rather comprehensive explanation behind this answer. So, let’s just take a look at everything you might need to know:
What is a Service Animal?
Let’s start with the most important question – what is a service animal? Well, a service animal is one that supports his human in a variety of ways. They can help to guide individuals who have been declared legally blind. Or, they may help to supervise or even fetch help for people diagnosed with certain medical conditions.
These days, though, the definition of what a service animal can do has been broadened. It is now quite common to find service animals being given to individuals suffering from mental health issues. If specific conditions such as depression or anxiety are preventing someone from leading a normal life, service animals can help. To get a better idea of how they do this, you can visit sites such as https://usserviceanimals.org/blog/service-dog-for-anxiety/.
Now, what’s the deal with emotional support animals? Are they the same as service animals? While some people may use these terms interchangeably, they are quite different from one another. Understand, service animals are trained over a long period of time and so, have developed specific helpful skills.
Emotional support animals, on the other hand, are often not trained. Instead, they act more as a form of physical comfort to their owners. ESAs are also often not afforded the same rights as service animals. For instance, support animals tend to be allowed in most restaurants, housing facilities, and various other public and private domains.
What Kind of Pets Can Be Service Animals?
At the moment, only dogs are recognized as service animals. As such, it is only pups that will be licensed as such. This is according to the American with Disabilities Act. So, you can only really consider your pet for this position if he or she is a part of the canine family.
The law doesn’t really specify the breed, however. At the same time, you should be aware that certain breeds are better for these positions than others. After all, the dog must be trainable, be personable, and meet other criteria.
Can Any Dog Be a Service Animal?
So, does this mean that any dog can be a service animal? Well, as mentioned, your dog does have to have a few prerequisites. For instance, he or she must be calm and collected at all times. Simultaneously, he or she must also be responsive so that they can help out in an emergency situation.
Service dogs must also do well with people, especially in crowds. Keep in mind, a service dog needs to accompany you everywhere. Thus, they must be able to behave in any setting. Otherwise, they will not be able to fulfill their duties.
In a similar manner, most service dogs are “tested” to see how they will do in a public environment. Therefore, he or she will need to prove that she can resist growling at other dogs or people. The pup in question will also have to avoid asking for food or affection from others.
As you can see, service animals are held to incredibly high standards – a lot is expected of them. This is one of the reasons that not all pooches make the cut. Not to mention, many owners out there don’t want to put their dogs through all this hassle.
What Are the Steps to Get Your Pup Certified?
As mentioned, service dogs do have to receive specific training. So, if your pup only knows basic commands, then he or she will have to receive training that can span months. Now, technically, this is something that you can manage by yourself. However, this isn’t advised.
For one thing, you may not have the necessary knowledge or experience to train your pup well enough. Not to mention, trying to tackle this task on your own can prolong the process even further. It is a much better idea to head to a proper training facility.
Now, the guidelines aren’t too clear on just how long it is that you have to train your pup. Most centers will insist that you train your dog for at least 120 hours over the course of 6 months. You will be able to tell when your pup is ready when he or she is capable of carrying out all their tasks as necessary.
It should be noted that the United States doesn’t actually require you to register your dog as a service animal. Furthermore, the government doesn’t have a specific place for you to do so either. Nonetheless, you may want to register your pooch with another reputable agency.
You will often find that many businesses or private establishments will want to certify that your dog is a service animal. As such, you can make things easier for yourself by carrying around the necessary documents. This way, you will be able to access more areas with your dog, without having to contend with too many issues.
You can also place a vest on your dog to indicate that he or she is a service animal. Even then, though, this doesn’t give you carte blanche access. It is possible that you still may be questioned. Thus, certification is often the surest way to give you quick access.
So, there you have it! You can now tell whether or not your pet is capable of being a service animal. If you find your dog does fit the criteria, this certainly is an option for you. If not, you may have to get a service dog that has already been trained to help you out.