Service Dogs

By: Michael Appleman, M.S.


Service dogs can help individuals who suffered a burn injury. Many burn survivors suffer from physical and/or emotional trauma. The aid of a service dog can allow the individual to find the assistance they needed to rebuild their lives. the same way.

There have been many different breeds and sizes of dogs that have been trained to offer the support needed to individuals.

Qualifying For a Service Dog

In order to use a service dog in public you must legally qualify. It is essential that an individual suffers from medical issues, physical impairment or severe psychiatric problems. These issues must considerably limit the individual ability to perform at least one major activity without aid. There are no limits with respect to the kind of impairments/disabilities to qualify for a service dog.


Physical Impairments

Types of physical impairments that people suffer from and use service dogs are: cardiovascular issues, circulatory issues, digestive issues, disfigurements, endocrine issues, genitourinary issues, hemic issues, immune issues, lymphatic issues, loss of affecting a body system, loss of using or having body parts, musculoskeletal issues, neurological issues, reproductive issues, respiratory issues, skin issues, special sense organs issues, unable to speak and unable to hear.

Examples of Physical Impairment

Service dogs have been used to help people in a variety of ways. Below are examples of physical impairments that service dogs have been trained to offer assistance to individuals:

   - AIDS
   - Alcoholism
   - Asthma
   - Anxiety
   - Blindness/Visual Impairments
   - Cancer
   - Cerebral Palsy
   - Depression
   - Diabetes
   - Epilepsy
   - Hearing
   - Heart Disease
   - Migraine Headaches
   - Multiple Sclerosis
   - Muscular Dystrophy
   - Orthopedic
   - Paralysis
   - Pregnancy Complications
   - Thyroid Gland Disorders
   - Loss of body parts
   - Speech

What is Not an Impairment?


Certain non-chronic impairments that last for a short duration or no residual effects usually are not looked at as a disability. Environmental conditions and alternative lifestyles are not protected. An individual who is using illegal drugs is not considered as an individual with a disability.

Examples of Not Impairment Issues

   - Bisexuality
   - Broken Bone that will heal
   - Common Cold
   - Compulsive Gambling
   - Flu
   - Homosexuality
   - Lack of Education
   - Minor Non-Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders
   - Old Age
   - Poor Judgement
   - Pregnancy
   - Sprained Joint

You do not need a doctors letter in order to qualify for a service dog. If you are challenged by the authorities, individual, company or the police you will have to show proof that you are disabled need a service dog and the dog is trained to help you.

Training A Service Dog

Most service dogs are trained professionally by either nonprofit organizations or private companies. A possible service dog usually lives with the trainer for up to 2 years before it is offered to the individual who the dog will offer its love and services to. Some nonprofit organizations offer free dogs and others request that the individual purchases the dog that will be trained.

Flying With A Service Dog

If you have a service dog, you are allowed to travel, in the USA, with you service dog. The dog is allowed to travel in the cabin. You should not be charged. The dog must be able to control itself emotionally and physically on the plane. Your service dog must be able to remain quiet on the floor in between your feet. If your service dog is too large, the dog does not remain quiet and calm or the plane is overcrowded, the airline has the right to request that the dog travels in a crate.

Housing and your Service Dog

You have the right to keep your service dog with you in all apartments, condominiums, homes, hotels, town homes and other communities in the USA. If the community you live in or are moving to has a size limit or the type of dog that is allowed to live in the community, you have the right to inform them that a service dog no matter what size or type of dog is allowed to live there legally.

Areas Service Dogs Are Allowed

Service dogs are legally allowed in all public places. An individual with a service dog is legally protected to travel with his/he service dog in the following places.

- Food or Drink Establishments: Bars, Restaurants, Fast Food, etc.

   - Places of Education: An Elementary, Secondary, Undergraduate, Postgraduate Public or Private Schools, Nursery or Pre-School.
   - Places of Establishment: A Concert Hall, Movie House, Theater or a Staduim.
   - Places of Exercise or Recreation: Bowling alleys, Golf course, Gyms, Health Spas, etc.
   - Places of Lodging: A Hotel, Inn and Motel.
   - Places of Public Display: A Gallery, Library and a Museum.
   - Places of Recreation: Amusement or Public Park and a Zoo.
   - Sales or Rental Establishments: A Bakery, Book Store, Car Rentals, Clothing Store, Grocery Store, Hardware Store, Jewelry Store, Pet Store, Shopping Center and Video Store.
   - Service Establishments: A Bank, Barber Shop, Doctors or Lawyers Office, Dry-Cleaner or Laundromat, Funeral, Gas Station, Hospital, Nail Spa or Travel Service.
   - Social Service Center: Adoption Agency, Day Care Center and a Homeless Shelter.
   - Stations for Public Transportation: An Airport, Bus Station, a Depot, A Terminal or a Train Station.

All service dogs are trained to offer help in many different tasks. They have been taught to remember the routine, walk in a straight line, go around obstacles and then continue in a straight line, never turn a corner unless commanded to, judge height and width of doors and openings, always stop at each curb, take traffic into consideration and only continue after being commanded, pay attention to the owner's medical and emotional issues. Service dogs have also been seen to keep track of the owners scent. Many times our bodies offer a different scent with we do not feel well both emotionally and medically.

How to React to a Service Dog

Many service dogs are able to respond to people and others are only allowed to pay attention to their owner. It is best to either continue what you were doing or ask the owner if it is ok to pet and/or speak to the dog. Never command the service dog, unless there is a medical or emotional problem with the owner and you need to offer assistance. Try not to walk along side the owner and service dog. This can distract the service dog. Never offer the service dog a snack. Always ask the owner, if the owner says yes, offer the snack to the owner.

Should I Register My Service Dog?

Registering your service dog is voluntary. As of January 31, 2017 there are no current State or Federal Laws in the USA relating to registering a service dog. It has been suggested that by registering your service dog you are not only making the dog look official. You are also eliminating all aggravations and conflicts you may encounter in public. You can register your service dog with the National Service Animal Registry (NSAR), Many of the NSAR Staff are disabled and have service dogs. They understand your situation and can help you with any questions or problems you have registering your service dog.