Updated: May 20
Service dogs are a vital resource for individuals with disabilities, providing assistance with a wide range of tasks that help their handlers navigate the world more easily. However, despite their importance, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding service dogs. These myths can create barriers for individuals with disabilities who rely on service dogs. Below, are five common myths about service dogs. By understanding the truth about service dogs, we can all work to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals with disabilities.
1. Myth: Service dogs are always wearing vests or other identifying gear.
Fact: Service dogs are not required by law to wear identifying gear such as vests or badges, although many service dogs do wear them. However, businesses and other entities are allowed to ask if the dog is a service dog and what tasks it performs, to ensure that the dog is legitimate and allowed access.
2. Myth: Service dogs are only for people with physical disabilities.
Reality: Service dogs can be trained to assist people with a wide range of disabilities, including physical, sensory, psychiatric, and neurological disabilities.
3. Myth: Emotional support animals (ESA) are the same as service dogs.
Fact: ESAs are not the same as service dogs. ESAs do not have the same level of training as service dogs and do not have the same legal protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
4. Myth: Service dogs are always allowed to go everywhere with their handlers, regardless of the circumstances.
Fact: While service dogs are generally allowed access to public places and businesses, there are some situations where a service dog may be excluded, such as in operating rooms or sterile environments. Additionally, a service dog may be excluded if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
5. Myth: An official certification of training is required for service dogs.
Fact: Service dogs can be trained professionally by specialized businesses or by their owners, but this does not mean that any dog can be a service dog. To qualify, a service dog must perform a task that helps mitigate a personal disability, and the owner must maintain control of the dog at all times. Even if a dog is trained to perform a working task, it cannot be classified as a service dog if it is poorly behaved or uncontrollable. Keep in mind not all dogs can be service dogs!
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