Service Dogs 101: What You Need to Know About These Special Tools
Part of the Animal Matters Seminar Series
presented by Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy
This presentation will explain what the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) says about service dogs. Who can use them? What makes a service dog a service dog? How do people get them? What should communities expect from service dog teams? How can communities support service dog teams?
The discussion will also include the differences between Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals and Assisted Animal Therapies; and the use of service dogs by young children.
Members of the public are invited to this seminar on campus or remotely at no charge.
Made possible by the generous support of: Elizabeth A. Lawrence Endowed Fund
Photos from event:
Questions and Answers that occurred after the seminar hour
1. Does insurance ever help with the cost of the dog?
a. No. Insurance does not cover any of the costs of a service dog. Many Guide Dog training programs have endowments which allow them to place guide dogs at no cost to the client. Some service dog training programs have large sponsors which allow them to provide service dogs are no cost or on a sliding scale to clients. Some veterans are able to get financial assistance from the VA – depending on what type of service dg they are getting and what caused the disability.
Fundraising is the most common way to cover the cost for training. Fundraising is easier when you are working with a 501c3 nonprofit rather than a for profit training program. There are a variety of sources which will raise funds for nonprofits that will not contribute to a for profit company. If you choose a for profit or private training option you should be prepared to pay the entire cost of between $25,000 – $35,000 over the 2 year training period.
2. Was your access restricted at all when you went to the San Diego Zoo out of concern for specific animals living at the Zoo?
a. No. I have not been restricted at any zoo, most notably San Diego and the National Zoos. I was told by 1 keeper in the primate section that they enjoy the stimulation it brings to many of the primates by having something different to look at.
While at the National Zoo in the gorilla viewing area, we had a fun experience. The male gorilla wanted to watch my service dog, similarly to the way we watch him. The gorilla would move so he could follow us as we walked through the area. He even tapped on the glass to get my service dog to look at him. When I brought my service dog close to the glass, the gorilla put his head down so he could look right into the face of my service dog and put his hand on the glass as if he wanted to touch the dog. I had similar experiences in San Diego with smaller primates following us and trying to see my dog around the people who were trying to watch the primates. Some called to him or tried to get his attention similar to the way we watch them. I do give a larger clearance to the large cats because in Washington one tried to mark us with urine.
The only places I have been asked not to take the service dog were into butterfly exhibits because there was a concern that the flee/tick preventative could affect the butterflies. While I have seen butterflies land on my dog in my yard and fly away safely, I do not have the science on the risk to the butterflies and choose to respect the request not to take my service dog into the exhibit at that time.
3. I missed the whole start of the webinar. Is it true that only a dog can be a service animal?
a. It is only dogs or miniature horses which can be service animals in the United States. Dogs are the most versatile in both the people they work with and the skills they can learn. Miniature horses are working primarily as guide animals for the visually impaired. They see better and live longer than dogs so for some people this is a better match. They must meet the same requirements of behavior as the dogs do – house broken, no aggression, and be under the control of the person at all times.
4. About the dogs not being trained to protect, would they intervene if the human was in need of help due to being harmed?
a. They should not intervene if their partner is being harmed. My service dog was attacked – he stepped behind me and did not attempt to defend himself. I do know of dogs that have intervened to protect their person. While the person was happy for the protection at the time, the dog was retired from public work and lived the rest of its life at home with that person.
5. Is all vet care provided by org?
a. All the care of the service dog is the responsibility of the partner.
The training program is responsible for the care of the pup while it is in training. Once the service dog has finished training and is places with its partner, the care of the service dog is the responsibility of the partner.
We advise people considering service dogs to be able to budget about $200 per month for the care of the dog. While this will vary a little depending on the food, treats and toys chosen it is a good ball park to plan for. Some Veterinarians offer discounts to services dogs. Service dog partners who are members of IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners) may be able to access discounted products such as flea and tick preventative and Dasuquin for example, because the group has negotiated things for their members.
About Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy
The mission of the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy is to conduct and encourage the study of complex issues surrounding the changing role and impact of animals in society. The Center supports the development and dissemination of research driven policies, programs and practices that benefit both people and animals.
Work conducted by the Center is based on the tenets that animal well-being matters, that animal and human well-being are linked, and that both are enhanced through improved understanding of human-animal relationships. Click here for more information