Monday, August 8, 2011

Service Dog Partners, Make Some Noise

Just thinking:  I have been reading several discussions about service dogs and their human partners being harassed and denied access to public places.  Their heartache and disappointment have made me want to cry.

I know, according to the ADA, you are not required to show any documentation or prove anything to anyone, but, according to the sad stories I've been reading, clearly, life would be easier if the legal status of the dog could be demonstrated.

Recently I had a discussion with the proprietor of my favorite U Pick It site about the work I’m doing with service dogs.  She (and she’s not stupid) said she had recently turned someone with a service dog away because “The fruits and vegetables are meant to be eaten.”  When I corrected her, she was visibly upset—she had been totally unaware of the regulations. I know she’ll never again turn a service dog away.

Isn’t it possible for the service dog community to come up with a simple form, card, or document to present to the uncooperative person. There is no reason to share a medical diagnosis, just the statement that you are entitled by law to be accompanied by a service dog and the simple phrase “the service dog has been determined to be medically necessary.”

Also, arm yourself with the name and phone number of the local police precinct so your opposition will see that you are serious.

The good news is that service dogs, at least here in Florida, have been receiving some positive press. 

Following is a link to a letter to the editor of the Miami Herald that I wrote and the paper printed. (Mine is the second letter.)

Additionally, an article appeared in the Sun Sentinel.
I linked the article and my commentary in another post on this blog.

It’s time to be proactive and, as they say at Miami Heat games, “Stand up and make some noise.”  Write letters to your local newspaper. Contact your local radio and TV stations.  The topic has come of age and the papers and media are paying attention.  We must keep the hammer on them.


  1. This post created a firestorm of responses. I do understand the point, that it's impossible to get an official ID for a service dog, because they don't exist and capitulating to the demand to prove that the dog is in fact a service dog could make it more difficult in the future.

    That said, we haven't done enough to educate the public--my main point in the post. The problem with not carrying some sort of documentation is that people are harassed to such a degree that I'd venture to guess that many people are timid about venturing out with their SD's.

    At the least, carrying a copy of the ADA regulations with the pertinent information highlighted, may get you through the door with a minimum of fuss. It would also educate the cops who could also get involved.

    There is a link to the complete text of the ADA Law on my website: I've highlighted the pertinent references; they appear on pages 30-35.

    Perhaps carrying a copy of the cover page and the pages that address service dogs could take the place of an ID which, as people have commented, does not exist and in the US we aren't supposed to be forced to carry ID.

    All I'm trying to do by bringing up this issue is make the path easier for some of the service dog partnerships who have had horrific experiences. Maybe we can pave the way positively, instead of reacting to the claim I've heard that showing some kind of documentation or a copy of the law will only make it more difficult for the next pair.

    Perhaps showing a copy of the ADA may educate the offender rather than encourage him or her to demand documentation from subsequent partners.

  2. This is a link to the NEADS website that has some pocket reference material for ADA laws pertaining to service dogs. I am a weekend puppy raiser with NEADS and we carry these around with us for those very rare occasions when we have a problem bringing our dog into a store. (