Norm Lanier wrote the following article with that very provocative title.
But don’t be alarmed, the article is for people with disabilities and explains how they can AVOID being scammed. The long and the short of the message is if you’re disabled and you have a service dog, you do NOT need to hand over ANY cash to a so-called registration company for service dogs. Service dogs do NOT need to be registered.
Here’s Norm’s informative article containing your protections under the Americans With Disabilities Act:
I’m often asked how you register or certify your service dog, the answer is “You Don’t”. Companies that claim to register or certify your animal without training are simply taking advantage of the handicapped to make a dollar. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect which gives handicapped persons with service animals legal protection to be accompanied by the animal in public places.
Understanding the ADA
So lets first define what a service animal is, According to the ADA, an animal is considered a service animal” if it has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” As you see, the word certify or registered doesn’t appear in the law. As a matter fact the US government does not register, certify, license or approve any animal.
The ADA Catch 22
Because the definition of a disability is so broad it would be impossible for the government to create any sort of testing criteria other then the vague definition above. Also, since many disabled people live on fixed incomes requiring professional animal training would be an added financial burden that many disabled people could not afford. Unlike a person with a handicap license plate or ID, there is no official identification and service dogs without some form of ID are often assumed to be pets. The ADA also states that a handicapped person is not required to show proof of their disability. So that’s what the law says, but the reality is that having your service animal identified with an ID, vest, cape or bandanna helps identify the dog as a working partner and not a pet.
The Registration Scam
It wasn’t long after the ADA went into effect that companies started popping up offering to register or certify your animal. Now please understand that we are not talking about trainers that teach dogs to perform tasks for the disabled. What we are talking about are companies that use official sounding names that in exchange for your money will certify or register your service dog. In exchange they often provide you with a registration number, certificate, patch and maybe a cheap laminated tag. Some shameless companies charge as much as $250 for “registration”.
So What’s a Service Dog Owner to do?
First, make sure you meet the definition of a disabled person and that your dog is specially trained to perform tasks related to your disability. Trying to pass off your pet as a service animal is a federal offense and comes with severe penalties. Outside of the two requirements spelled out in the ADA you don’t have to do anything. If you feel identifying your service dog will make your life easier then purchase a quality photo service dog tag, vest with patches or a cape.
Spot is the owner of www.ServiceDogTags.com and is a prolific writer on matters concerning service dogs and the disabled. Spot lets his owner help him put the web site together and write articles as it’s hard as heck to type with paws. Besides it’s good to throw his owner a bone every once in a while so he feels useful. (formerly DoggyDMV) makes personalized service dog tags. You can learn more about service dogs on our site http://www.ServiceDogTags.com
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