As a thank you for being a part of our online community — We offer these tips and suggestions to make your life easier. Despite the fact that millions of folks throughout the world benefit from their service, support and therapy dogs — It is still difficult to know what’s best, what’s legal and what to do. Click and expand this list of tips to gain the insight from our team of experts. Check back often, as we use real-life questions and problems faced by our members to help serve you better. Again, thanks for the supporting our mission to educate and protect service dogs and their owners.
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Be Familiar With Both Federal and State Laws
Be familiar with both federal laws and state or provincial laws. In the U.S., your state laws may give you additional protections not offered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or U.S. Federal Laws. Remember that the ADA is a civil law. That means it can only be enforced through the courts. The police are not empowered to enforce it, so calling them about discrimination under the ADA will accomplish nothing. However, some state laws include criminal laws for access denial and those can be enforced by the police.
The Power Of Words
Consider the power of your words and choose them carefully. “U.S. Department of Justice” is much more meaningful and much more authoritative to a business person than “DOJ.” They probably haven’t a clue what “DOJ” means. Take time now to write a short paragraph explaining the rights of persons with disabilities partnered with service animals under the ADA and U.S. Federal Laws. Tidy up the grammar and make efficient use of the English language. Phrase things carefully and correctly. Service dogs have no rights under the ADA or U.S. Federal Laws–people with disabilities do, so use “people with disabilities partnered with Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals” instead of just “service dogs” when you talk about access rights. Use “people with disabilities” or “person with a disability” instead of disabled person or people.
Think Before You Speak
The single most important thing to remember in any situation is to KEEP YOUR COOL. The first line of defense in dealing with service animal disputes is to avoid them in the first place with a professional presentation. However, if someone does approach you about the presence of your service dog, remember: educate, mediate THEN AND ONLY THEN litigate. Litigation should be a last resort, not the first.
Share the educational information you possess with the business person while calmly explaining that you are disabled, that your dog is a trained service dog, and that federal law permits people with disabilities to be accompanied in places of business with their trained service dogs, even in businesses where dogs are generally not allowed.
Vests, Tags and ID Cards
While, Service Animals are not required to have any type of special vest, tag or ID card, the more ammo you have have the easier it will be to resolve any issues peacefully. It is ALWAYS better to have a vest, tag or ID Card in addition to any other Required Documentation. Always remember to KEEP YOUR COOL and be prepared.
Have Your Service Animal’s Vaccination Record
Make sure your Service Animal’s vaccination records are up-to-date and make sure you have a copy with you at all times. We suggest keeping them on your smart phone.
Always Notify Transportation Authorities Ahead of Time
When traveling with your Service Animal ALWAYS contact the carrier ahead of time (A minimum of 72 hours in advance) to make sure you have all the documents required by the carrier.