Accepting the responsibility for training a service dog is even more intense than I thought. Once I had decided to train Simba as my Mobility dog. I began to look into what certifications were required for my state and the United States. I wanted to know what types of trainings were required to be certified as a service animal. To my shock and dismay, I found there are absolutely no regulations or laws regarding what a service dog must be trained to do in order to be called a service or assistance dog. Apparently, there are many sites out there that pretend or fraudulently sell service dog kits, service dog certifications, service dog collars, tags, registry or vests. When I looked into it, I found that none of these things are technically illegal but they give a false impression that the dog has been evaluated by some government agency, or have met some sort of criteria. The criteria is money! Under The Americans with Disabilities Act a service animal must perform some task or job that assists the disabled person. This is the only requirement necessary to call an animal a service animal. Any business may sell these items but it means nothing (except you’re out some cash.). They’ve absolutely no authority in the registration or certification of service animals as there is no such authority. The best you can do is to check and see if the agency you are using for a service animal is registered with Assistance Dogs International. If it isn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the training that your assistance dog will receive there is no good. Having one registered with ADI (Assistance Dogs International) is no promise of good training. And since I know many of you out there are thinking, my Fido can learn something then I can take him everywhere! Let me be clear, you must have a legitimate disability and needing emotional support alone from your dog isn’t considered service. The dog must DO something.
Next I want to address another concern. What about breed bans for Rottweilers, Pitbulls or other negatively stereotyped breeds. These bans do NOT affect service animals. A city or municipality can’t ban a service dog based solely on breed. That said, the dog must be under the handlers’ control at all times. So, I can decide how best to train Simba, but it’s also my responsibility to control his behavior. Hmmmm.I’ve got to get some good advice now on how best to proceed. My biggest fear is doing something that will negatively impact the legitimate service dog community. I’m starting to realize the breadth of this undertaking. I’m going to get Simba’s AKC Good Citizen Certification first so any breed issues with behavior are addressed up front. I’ve gotten some great advice from several blogs. One is Al Brittain, the Dog Chief. Another is called Actually Service Dogs. This blog is going to be an on going story of my journey with Simba. Come back and see what’s next for us!