FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SERVICE DOGS


Service Dogs are especially trained to assist people who have disabilities including visual difficulties, hearing impairments, mental illness, seizures, diabetes, autism, and more. They can be trained to work with people who use power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, have various types of autism, need seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues like low blood sugar, or have psychiatric disabilities. Paws For Empowerment trains Service Dogs to assist individuals with physical and developmental disabilities and other services which support our goal of enriching the lives of people in different ways through their relationship with a dog.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about Service Dogs:
A: Service Dogs are either rescued from animal shelters or they are bred and raised by special volunteers prior to undergoing formal training to become a Service Dog. Once they have undergone their “basic training” they are paired up with their Companion and trained to assist them with their particular needs.

Q: What is the difference between a guide dog and a service dog?
A: A guide dog is trained to assist blind and visually impaired people in avoiding obstacles in their daily living situations. A service dog is trained to help those with physical or hearing disabilities by alerting deaf and hearing impaired individuals to a variety of household sounds or by assisting in the performance of a wide variety of tasks depending on need and training (e.g. balance, retrieving, or pulling a wheelchair).
Q: How do you get a service dog?
A: First, you have to establish that you are disabled and in need of a Service Dog. Only persons who are legally disabled qualify for a service dog. Next, contact an organization that trains Service Dogs or contact Assistance Dogs International for the name of a member organization that trains dogs nearest you. Most service dogs are from nonprofit organizations that specialize in training service dogs for different types of disabilities.
Q: Can I ever be required under the American Disabilities Act to provide proof I am disabled or proof my dog is a service dog?
A: Yes. While businesses are generally permitted only to ask whether the dog is a service animal required because of disability and what the animal has been trained to do, there are instances when more extensive proof can be required.
Q: Can I ever be required under the American Disabilities Act to provide proof I am disabled or proof my dog is a service dog?

A: Yes. While businesses are generally permitted only to ask whether the dog is a service animal required because of disability and what the animal has been trained to do, there are instances when more extensive proof can be required.

Proof may include:
• Medical records from any medical providers treating you for your disability or for aspects of your disability.
• SSDI determination.
• Service Dog certification from a recognized/accredited program.
• Training logs if owner-trained.
• Independent evaluation of your dog’s training by a qualified trainer.
• Certificates attesting to training and temperament, such as training class completion certificates, an obedience title or certificate, a CGC certificate, etc.
• Video demonstrations of the dog’s training.
• In person demonstrations of the dog’s training.

Q: How do I determine if I am eligible for a service dog through the Veteran’s Administration?

A: To receive any type of medical service through VA, you must register at the Health Administration enrollment section of a Veteran’s Administration Medical Center or online:
http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp. Once registered, a referral to a specialist may be requested through the assigned VA primary care provider. The specialist will complete an evaluation and make a clinical determination on the need for assistive devices, including a service dog.

Q: How do I determine if I am eligible for a service dog through the Veteran’s Administration?

A: To receive any type of medical service through VA, you must register at the Health Administration enrollment section of a Veteran’s Administration Medical Center or online: http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp. Once registered, a referral to a specialist may be requested through the assigned VA primary care provider. The specialist will complete an evaluation and make a clinical determination on the need for assistive devices, including a service dog.

Each Veteran’s case is reviewed and evaluated by a prescribing clinician for the following:
• Means to care for the dog currently and in the future
• Goals that are accomplished through the use of the dog
• Goals that are to be accomplished through other assistive technology or therapy

Q: Does VA actually provide the Service Dog?
A: No. Veterans approved for service dogs are referred to accredited agencies. There should be no charge for the dog or the associated training. Paws for Empowerment trains Service Dogs suited to be paired with Veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries as well as for Veterans with physical restrictions that prevent them from performing everyday activities.
Q: If it is determined that I am eligible for a service dog, what benefits does VA provide for my service dog?
A: VA will pay for veterinary care and the equipment (e.g. harness and/or backpack) required for optimal use of the dog. Veterinary care includes prescribed medications, office visits for medical procedures, and dental procedures where the dog is sedated (one sedated dental procedure will be covered annually). Vaccinations should be current when the dog is provided to the Veteran through an accredited agency. Subsequent vaccinations will be covered by VA. Prescribed food will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Veterinary care does not include over-the-counter medications, food, treats and non-sedated dental care. Grooming, boarding and other routine expenses are not covered.
Q: Does a service dog serve the same function(s) as a Therapy dogs?
A: The terms “service dogs” and “therapy dogs” are often used interchangeably, but they really are far from being the same. Therapy dogs refer to dogs that are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in nursing homes, hospitals, retirement homes, schools, mental institutions and situations such as disaster areas. Therapy dogs interact with people who may or may not have disabilities. Both types of are used primarily in a medical settings.
Q: Is there anywhere that service dogs are not permitted?

A: Generally guide, hearing and service dogs are permitted to accompany their disabled owner everywhere members of the public are allowed to go. In a restaurant, for example, a service dog would be permitted to accompany his disabled owner in the dining area of a restaurant, but not in the kitchen. It is also an important distinction to note that it is the handler who has access rights and not the dog.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.” – U.S. Department of Justice.