Service Animals: Not as Confusing as It May Seem—New Service Animals Toolkit Clears Up Confusion

Christopher Sweet July 06, 2022

I have had five dogs in my lifetime, and I can remember every single nuance of their personalities and what they’ve brought to my life. From my border collie I had as a child, to my mixed mutts and my brother-and-sister lab pair, to my runt bulldog who wags her tail so hard she knocks herself over, they’ve all brought joy and happiness to my life. As many pet owners can attest, when a pet is suddenly gone from your life, the quiet in the house can be unbearable.

For many people, dogs bring something far more important than companionship. Service dogs can be a vital lifeline for a person with a disability who needs support to live an independent life. In my 30 years working in the disability community, I have met a few and they never cease to amaze me in the countless tasks they do every day for their handlers.

At the Northeast ADA Center, we get many calls from people who are confused about what a service dog is. Many callers have questions about vests, tags, registration, and other important topics. Businesses genuinely want to respect the needs of the disability community as well as allow people who use service animals to patronize their business. But…many questions remain. Questions include “What can be asked or asked for?” and “What if it is barking?” and “Do I have to give it water?” and “Are there ID tags?”

The Northeast ADA Center has developed a Service Animals in Public Spaces web-based toolkit that is geared to answer these sorts of questions for businesses. Whether you are seeking to advance your personal knowledge or looking for a training tool for employees, the toolkit offers information, scenarios, and self-test quizzes about service animals and your responsibilities to their handlers, as well as your rights as a business owner.

Come visit the site and you can also learn something about miniature horses. As always, if you have questions about the ADA, please call 1-800-949-4232.