Service dog certification is not required by federal law, and there is no government agency that issues assistance dog certifications. Yet, some states and localities may require service dogs to be certified. If you learn from local authorities that assistance dog certification is mandatory in your area, find out where you can get a free certification.
Contrary to what some websites would have you believe, you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to have your aide dog licensed or certified.
Unless you live in an area where certification is required by local or state law, it's not necessary to show an ID card for your service dog when you're in public.
Avoid Service Dog Certification Scams
In recent years, a number of companies offering so-called service dog certifications have cropped up online. According to these sites, all someone has to do to get his or her dog certified is to fill out a form and pay a fee, without having to prove a disability or that the dog is trained.
To put it simply, these certifications are nothing more than scams. Some of them even have expiration dates so that people have to renew each year so these unscrupulous companies can make even more money.
Although there is no standard certification process for service dogs, there are many excellent, legitimate organizations and programs that offer requirement-specific training for potential service dogs.
Training may last anywhere from a few months to two years, depending on the organization. Upon completion, the dog and owner receives a certificate and sometimes identification cards.
The problem with owners using identification cards, however, is that it spreads the myth that all people with service animals have to carry an ID card, when the law does not require it. After seeing one service dog owner show an ID card, a business owner may assume that it must be required by law.
Tips for Complying with the Law
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to enter with their service animals. Business owners are allowed to ask someone if an animal is a service dog or what tasks the he or she is trained to perform.
The owner is not allowed to ask questions about a person's disability or request to see a service dog ID card. If a business owner requests to see an identification card for the dog and then denies the person access because he or she doesn't have a card for the dog, the business owner could face a lawsuit.
It is also a felony for someone to pretend that his or her dog is a service dog. To be considered a service dog by law, the animal must be individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities.
For more about aide dogs and the type of tasks they perform, please click here: Service Dogs.
References: http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/509, http://www.ada.gov/svcanimb.htm, http://2012.servicedogsfl.org/?p=28
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