Service dogs have become more commonplace in recent years. The demand for them has escalated as research has proven that service dogs can make a significant impact on the lives of their owners. It’s not unusual to see service dogs accompanying their owners on routine activities like grocery store trips and social outings.

However, just because service dogs are more common doesn’t mean they are more accepted in some quarters. Some still discriminate against those who use service dogs by denying them entry or services. The American with Disabilities Act protects those who use service animals against such discrimination in many areas such as public accommodations, transportation, and employment. While service dog registration or a service dog card is not required for such protection, it can make life easier for those who require service dogs for daily life. Read on to learn more about service dog registration.

What Qualifies as a Service Dog?

A service dog is not merely a pet that you keep close for companionship or comfort. A service dog is defined as a dog trained to assist those with severe psychiatric and physical disabilities in performing major life tasks that would otherwise be impossible or difficult. The owner must have a demonstrable accepted impairment, and the dog must be trained to assist in compensating for that impairment. Major life tasks include activities like sleeping, communicating, food preparation, eating, bodily functions, personal hygiene, or manual tasks.

What are Your Rights?

Just because you have a service dog doesn’t mean you can be denied entry or service at public accommodations, transportation providers, or places of employment. Protections for those with service dogs extend far into most realms of daily life. For example, you cannot be denied entry or service at any public accommodation, which includes places of lodging, restaurants, exhibitions of entertainment, public gatherings, retail or rental establishments, service establishments, public transportation depots, public displays or museums, parks or recreational facilities, educational facilities, or social services establishments.

Why Register?

Again, service dog registration is not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, it can help in mitigating resistance from anyone who would deny services and accommodations to those with service dogs. Registration increases the credibility of your need for a service dog, and it can also provide valuable resources such as service animal cards and documents that will help make discussions about your service dog go more smoothly. Just the presence of service dog credentials can diffuse potential confrontations and make life easier for those with disabilities.

If you use a service dog due to a physical or psychiatric impairment, you should know your rights. Registering your service dog and getting a service dog card can provide you with powerful tools for accessing your rights and diffusing potential confrontations regarding accommodations with your animal.

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