Should my service dog be allowed at work?

Service animals can be highly beneficial to those suffering from disabilities and other kinds of trauma. Not all animals can be service animals, but any dog that is trained to do certain tasks or perform work for the benefit of an individual with a disability is a service animal.

Is a disability always visible? No. That’s why businesses that have individuals requesting that their service animals come to work with them or are present need to be careful about denying this service. By law, the animal is protected and should not leave its handler’s side. Disabilities recognizes by the Americans with Disabilities Act include physical, psychiatric, intellectual, sensor, or mental disabilities. For instance, a person who suffered a medical emergency could develop post-traumatic stress disorder. That person could then get a service dog to help with the psychological needs he or she has each day. The dog may be trained to fetch medications or to calm panic attacks, for example.

Are all service animals dogs?

Yes. The ADA states that all service animals must be dogs. However, there is one exception in the case of miniature horses for those who may need the horse for specific duties or tasks. For example, a miniature horse would be more likely to be able to carry heavy loads from the grocery store than a dog would. The horse must meet ADA guidelines.

What kinds of tasks should these animals do?

The tasks are specialized, so no one task will be present among all service animals. Seeing eye dogs may help a blind person cross the street or get certain foods out of the refrigerator. A service dog for the deaf may alert the individual to the presence of a stranger or knock at the door. Each animal is different, just as each person has individualized needs, so your animal may have its own tasks. As long as your service dog is qualified, your animal should not be denied entrance into any location where you can go.

Source: The ADA National Network Disability Law Handbook, “Service Animals and the ADA,” accessed June 28, 2016

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