ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
Service dogs are protected under the ADA. Check out this post for more info:
Any building, structure, or portion thereof that is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families, and any vacant land that is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure,
or portion thereof.
Federal law applies to service animals and housing in Washington Sate. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a federal agency that administers the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Under the FHA, a service animal is defined as an animal for a person with a disability that is a necessary and reasonable accommodation. Emotional support animals and comfort animals ARE included in the HUD definition
Therefore, these animals are also allowed into a person’s dwelling too. There should be no “pet fee” for the service animal. The person with the disability must request the dog as a reasonable necessity for the disability. He or she is required to show that the dog is necessary because of their disability. Service animals are not pets, and “no pets” policies do not apply.
What Is A Service Animal?
Service Animals Are Not Pets
What Is A Therapy Dog / Therapy Animal?
What Is An Emotional Support Animal?
Difference Between Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal
- Individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
- The work or task a service dog does must be directly related to the person’s disability.
- Service dogs may accompany persons with disabilities into places that the public normally goes.
- The law that allows a trained service dog to accompany a person with a disability is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Emotional Support Animals
- An animal (typically a dog or cat, although this can include other animals) that provides a therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship.
- The animal provides emotional support and comfort to people with psychiatric disabilities and other mental impairments.
- The animal is not specifically trained to perform tasks for a person who suffers from emotional disabilities, as oppose to service animals which are individually trained.
- Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal is not granted access to places of public accommodation.
- Under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), an emotional support animal is considered a “reasonable accommodation” in a housing unit that has a “no pets” rule for its residents.
About the ‘Service’ in Service Dog
There are many different ways that a person with a disability utilizes a service animal. For example, the animal may:
- Lead blind people
- Serve as the ears of a deaf person
- Carry and pick up items
- Be used for balance
- Provide warnings of impending seizures
- Provide warnings of impending low blood sugar
Service animals may help people with anxiety disorders, PTSD and/or other emotional conditions to function by:
- Alerting their handlers to avoid anxiety triggers
- Recognizing and blocking behaviors
- Stimulating a person to “snap back” to a conscious state
- Remind handlers that it is time to take medication
- Can summon help in the case of fainting or a seizure
The ways in which people with disabilities are using service animals has been growing and evolving. Over time, we are discovering additional ways in which these animals can be utilized.
Definition of Dog Guide
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a coalition of not for profit assistance dog organizations.
Assistance dog organizations that pass ADI’s comprehensive accreditation become ADI member programs, and are regularly assessed to ensure they meet the high standards expected.
The purpose of ADI is to:
- improve the training, placement, and utilization of assistance dogs
- improve staff and volunteer education
- educate the public about assistance dogs,
- advocate for the legal rights of people with disabilities partnered with assistance dogs.
Washington State Law does not address service animals‐in‐training. A program or facility certainly can allow a service animal‐in‐training access, but it is under no legal obligation to do so.
Training Requirements for Service Animals
There is no requirement that the animal has a certain type of training. Courts have determined that training needs to be more than obedience training or positive reinforcement. A service animal must be trained in a way that sets it apart from a family pet. It must be trained to do specific actions or tasks which then help its handler who has a disability. The training requirement often eliminates “emotional support animals”, “therapy dogs”, and “comfort animals” from the definition of a service animal in places of public accommodation, since these animals are not usually trained to do a specific task for a person with a disability. Because a ‘grey area’ or confusion seems to exist, the recommended inquiry is to ask what the animal is trained to do.
Questions a Business Can Ask
Under the Washington State Human Rights Commission, (Also under the ADA) businesses are restricted to which type of questions they are permitted to ask a person who is suspected of using a service animal. Permitted questions include:
1. Is the animal a pet? If it is not and it is identified as a service animal, the business can ask a second question;
2. What service or task is the animal trained to do for you?
If the handler refuses to answer, the animal can be excluded.
If the handler discloses their disability, but refuses to disclose what the animal is trained to do for them, the animal can be excluded.
If the handler provides documentation or certification that the animal is a service animal, but neither the documentation nor the handler can explain what the animal is trained to do, the business can exclude the animal. (There is no state or federal service animal registry or certification process, so such documentation has no legal meaning and is often purchased on the Internet.)
If the handler answers only that the animal can sit, stay, lie down, come when called, or do something else related to obedience and good manners, this does not indicate the animal is trained to provide services for a disability, and the animal can be excluded.
If the handler answers that the animal makes them feel better, helps them calm down, eases their depression, or something similar, this would indicate that it is the animal’s presence alone that helps the handler, and that the animal is not trained to do a task or provide a service. Because the animal does not meet the training requirement, the business can exclude the animal.
If the handler answers that the animal is trained to guide them, help with balance or mobility, alert them to a condition (either physical or situational), pick up or carry items, remind them to take medication, get help, stabilize them during a seizure, redirect their attention from a trigger, or do some other task or provide some service that the person is unable to do themselves or helps with a disability, then the animal is a trained service and must be allowed.
– Washington State Human Rights Commission
Questions a Business Cannot Ask
- Businesses cannot ask the customer about his or her disability
- Businesses cannot ask for proof of disability
Service Animal Guide for Business Owners
Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs has put together a couple of excellent and informative videos for business owners and for service animal owners.
Guide For Service Animal Owners
- Complaints must be filed within 6 months of the date of harm
- For housing complaints, these must be filed within 1 year of date of harm
- For Whistleblower complaints, these must be filed within 2 years
- Complains will be resolved during an investigation subject to an agreement between the parties and the WSHRC. (Washington State Human Rights Commission)
- Contact WSHRC for more information.
Fake Service Animals
Unfortunately there have been increasing instances of people claiming their untrained dog is a needed service animal. There is no law preventing people from questioning a person with a fake service dog. To make matters worse, the ADA guidelines are written in a broad sense. People have been taking advantage of this and causing issues for real service dogs which are helping to improve the lives of people living with real disabilities. Some ways to spot an untrained or “fake” service animal are: A dog not wearing a leash, or a dog traveling in a baby carriage or tote bag. The untrained dog might be unruly (service animals are never unruly), or it might not stay next to its handler (service animals do not stray from their handler). If an animal is an imminent threat, a business owner can order them to leave.
Register & Certify Your Service Dog in Washington
The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in Washington or any other state in the US. (*exception: New York City service dogs must be licensed by the city’s Department of Health). Service dogs are protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. Registration and certification is possible – but completely optional – and does not convey any legal rights under the ADA or the Department of Justice. Read more here:
Find a Service Dog (and related organizations) in Washington State
Provides trained service dogs for veterans, children, adults with physical, developmental, and behavioral health disabilities to promote a more independent and enriched life.
*Brigadoon Service Dogs are currently not accepting applications for service dogs until August 1, 2017.*
Summit Assistance Dogs is a fully accredited 501(c)(3) organization that creates life-changing partnerships by providing highly-skilled mobility-assistance dogs for people living with disabilities, giving them increased independence and renewed confidence. Anyone who can demonstrate a real need for and intent to use the services of an assistance dog can qualify. Note: They do not train people’s own dogs.
Paws-Abilities has a large variety of classes and training programs for people to participate in using their own dog to become their service animal. As a generality, an owner-trained Service Dog requires up to 100 hours of instructional time and 40 hours of “Real world” practice to achieve success as an owner-trained, Service Dog Team.
The benefits of an owner-trained Service Dog are UNBEATABLE…The owners get to pick the style of dog that most appeals to them….It’s age, size, shape, temperament (busy or laid-back) purebred or ‘mixed’ is up to the owner. When an owner starts with a young dog or puppy, the bonding process starts instantly…the dog learns it’s job in the environment it will be living and working in with the person or people it will be working for and who love it.
Prison Pet Partnership is a non-profit organization located on the grounds of the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor. They rescue and train homeless animals to provide service dogs for persons with disabilities and operate a boarding and grooming facility to provide vocational education for women inmates. The program benefits all involved — the animals who are given the chance to lead lives of service, the inmates who learn valuable skills so they may find gainful employment upon release, and the individuals with disabilities who receive well-trained dogs to help increase their level of independence.
Cascade Service Dogs, located in Olympia, Washington, mission is to: Provide and train Service Dog Teams to enrich the lives and independence of those challenged by Autism Spectrum Disorder, Post- Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Mobility and Balance.
Cascade Service Dogs foundation is built on over 30 years of experience raising guide dog and assistance dog puppies, being a group leader for over 25 years, including 25 years of 4-H Service Dog Project lead experience. There is no greater joy than seeing the independence, confidence, and joy well-trained service dogs bring to their companions. The dogs we provide come from a number of sources including breeders, service dogs organizations, families who donate their qualified dogs when they can no longer keep them, and occasionally shelters. Teams are trained through our Service Dog and Owner Trained Service Dog Programs.
Pet Partners’ mission is to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond.
Pet Partners is the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing animal-assisted interventions.
Pet Partners teams interact with a wide variety of clients including veterans with PTSD, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, students with literacy challenges, patients in recovery, people with intellectual disabilities and those approaching end of life. The impact of these interactions is felt three million times a year. Pet Partners’ curriculum and continuing education for licensed Instructors, Evaluators and Handlers is the gold standard in the field.
Project Canine is a therapy dog organization.
Therapy dogs are companion animals with no additional legal rights to access public spaces and have been temperament tested for their appropriateness to visit with people in environments like eldercare facilities, hospitals, homeless or domestic violence shelters, libraries and many more.
Connecting Canines is our therapy dog certification program. We rigorously screen and prepare aspiring therapy dog teams to high standards for safety and professionalism. We provide existing teams with ongoing training opportunities, support, help with finding places to visit, and the opportunity to visit within our other programs. Certified therapy dog teams are covered under our liability insurance for volunteer therapy dog visits. All teams must re-certify every two years.
Adopt a Trained or Service Dog in Washington
Seattle Dog Spot (Washington)
First of all, THANK YOU for adopting a shelter dog. Our shelters have so many fantastic dogs, both purebreds and mixed breeds, that will provide you and your family with a years of love, devotion, and companionship.
Second, when you’re ready to get your dog, I urge you to consider adopting a dog trained at one of several Washington prisons that have formed partnerships with local rescues/shelters.
In case you didn’t know, all Washington prisons operate some kind of animal training or adoption program.