Service dogs are more than the average highly trained house pet; they save countless of lives every day. From helping the blind to detecting a diabetic's rapidly changing blood sugars, service dogs are almost a essential medical accessory to a disabled person's life.
My daughter is planning on training a puppy (with some help!) for her diabetes, which would mean we'd have to take the dog everywhere we go.
So I can hear you now - but I want to take Rover anywhere with me too!
But having a service dog is not as easy as it seems - and faking one could land you with a hefty fine and jail time.
So here are some things about service dogs, and some do's and dont's when you see one.
By Georgia law, a “Assistance dog” (aka Service dog) means a dog that is or has been trained by a licensed or certified person, organization, or agency to perform physical tasks for a physically challenged person. This however isn't always the case, as many people train their service dogs by themselves - this is often called "owner training", and they have the same rights as any organization or agency dog. (This is also the road that we are taking!)
Service dogs, by law, have to be with the owner everywhere (and yes I mean EVERYWHERE); to school, to the mall, to Six Flags, to the pool, to work, to your friend's house, to that fancy expensive resturaunt, to the movies, to the quick 10 minute stop to Walmart, EVERYWHERE.
This may cause a fuss with people, who don't think a dog should be anywhere else but the backyard - but they don't understand that this dog is here to save a life, not to just come to Red Lobster because you decided just because.
Some places will try to turn a Service dog team away because they 'don't allow dogs'.
Denial or interference is misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000.00, imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both.
Did you know that Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and Service dogs are NOT the same?
Here's a handy chart to explain!
There also, as the chart shows, NO offical certification for a Service dog (or a ESA). If you see anyone or a website claiming to certify your dog as a ESA or a Service dog, RUN- it's a SCAM!
ESA's need a doctor's note while Service dogs do not (but its recommended to get one in case of problems, like if someone attacks your dog).
Service dogs aren't just for military vets - they're for anyone who needs the help they give. Service dogs save many, many lives, and will be known as a wonderful friend and medical assistant to anyone who needs one.
HI, I'm Kathy Bowen. I'm a California native but after being married to a now retired soldier I've lived all over the U.S. We finally settled in Atlanta 2 yrs ago. I have 5 beautiful children that keep me busy. Atlanta has such a great history and my family loves to get out on weekends and explore the city. I look forward to meeting you all at our monthly Girls Night Out and hear all about your journeys.