What Are The Requirements To Have A Service Dog In Virginia?

Service Dogs in Virginia

We get asked service dog questions a lot at our facility in Northern Virginia.

ADA (American Disabilities Act) is the governing body for these regulations.

The American Disabilities Act has certain regulations in place regarding the definition and purpose of service dogs. This has been revised several times, with the latest revision being on March 15, 2011. There were several additional provisions added to the latest revisions regarding service dogs.

Service dogs are specially trained to assist people with special needs in certain activities of daily living, such as helping them to walk with stability, helping retrieve items (if they are in a wheelchair), helping them know if someone is coming from behind (if there is hearing loss), preventing a child from wandering away from safety (if autistic), etc.

According to the American Disabilities Act, both local and state government agencies, non-profit organizations, retail merchants, restaurants, and other businesses, have to make “reasonable modifications” in order to accommodate the needs of disabled people. Even places that have a policy of “no pets” have to make room for service dogs in their premises.

It is to be noted that the ADA defines only dogs as service animals. According to the ADA, the dog must be trained to perform tasks that are specifically related to the disability faced by the person. This involves training the dog to take certain actions that are very specific to the disability, such as alerting a diabetic person that his blood sugar levels are low. Other tasks could include reminding the person to take medications on time, detect the onset of a seizure in an epileptic person and keep him/her safe during the seizure until medical aid arrives. Therapy dogs, or dogs that provide only emotional support and comfort, are not covered in the ambit of service dogs, under the ADA regulations. However, dogs that are trained to offer specific psychiatric support, such as sensing the onset of an anxiety attack and taking action to warn, avoid, or prevent the attack, are covered as service dogs, under ADA regulations.

The ADA also does not “require” professional training for service dogs; however, it is highly preferred. People with disabilities can train the dogs themselves. ADA regulations state that a dog can only be considered a service dog after it is fully trained. A service dog can only be taken to public places after it is fully trained. This means that dogs that are undergoing training should not be taken to public places under ADA regulations. They are not required to wear any special vest, harness, or ID tag. The care of the dog is the responsibility of the handler, and this includes feeding, grooming, exercising, as well as veterinary care.

ADA regulations also state that hotels must not reserve “pet friendly” rooms to people with service animals who want to book an accommodation in the hotel. They must be given rooms that are accessible to other general guests. Hotels must also not charge a separate cleaning fee for these rooms to remove pet hair, etc.  Essentially, a service dog must be given access to any place that a person is.

If you are looking at getting your dog trained and certified to be a service dog, contact Off Leash K9 Training today!

www.offleashk9training.com or 888-413-0896  or http://www.servicedogtrainingvirginia.com/

Nick White
Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

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