Jan 31 2020 61480 1 Service Animals

Dated: 01/31/2020

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Do you really know what a Service Animal is?  There seems to be so much confusion today as many people get the terms of Service Animal and Emotional Support and Therapy Dogs confused.  There is a difference between them all and I am going to discuss just Service Animals in this article to try and clarify just what they are.

The ADA defines Service Animals as " individual dogs that have been successfully trained to work with or perform specific tasks for people with disabilities including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. " Dogs and miniature horses that are specifically trained to perform work for people with disabilities  now qualify as service animals.

Service animals are generally required to go through years of complex and specific training.  The animals must be certified by state regulatory agencies.  The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handlers disability.  

* a psychiatric service dog is not the same thing as an emotional support animal; psychiatric service dogs are trained to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes, which can ultimately lessen the effects of the episodes

* sensory signal or social signal dogs are trained to assist a person with autism, and are trained to alert their handlers to distracting repetitive movements, such as hand flapping

* blind service dogs have been around for years leading and guiding the sightless

Service animals assisting any disabled individual must be allowed in any housing or residential situation. In certain circumstances, the Federal Fair Housing Act has exemptions, such as in cases of properties that are for sale by owner, with no real estate professional involved, owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members, and/or commercial or industrial properties.

Not all disabilities are apparent when you see a person and their service dog, the ADA only permits two questions to be asked of a person accompanied by an animal when the disability  isn't obvious: "Is the animal required because of a disability, and what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?"

*Always remember that when you see a Service Dog it is not a pet, these animals are working.  They are not to be talked to, pet, or disturbed.  They have been trained to do a job for their handlers only.  A true service dog will not even look at other people as their job is to look out for the person they are working for at all times.  They will be wearing vests in most cases in public to denote who they are so that you will know to leave them alone.

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Robin Arrow

Robin Arrow has been a licensed real estate salesperson since 1994. She began her career in Northern CA and has been licensed also in the states of Indiana and Georgia prior to moving to the Texas are....

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