“How do I register my dog as a service dog?”, is a question we encounter pretty often here at CanineHabit. If you head over to google and search “service dog registration”, you’re bombarded by a plethora of sites with legitimate looking pages, documentation for any situation and neat little accessories to take on your outings. If you look at more than one, you’ll notice how each website considers themselves ‘the official’ registration site, and everyone else is inferior. How can they all be official?
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C’mon, how do you register a service dog then?
First of all, the Department of Justice’s American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that documentation proving the animal has been certified, registered or trained as a service dog is not required by any covered entity as a condition of entry. Another way of saying this is that no one can deny you service or accommodation for not having paperwork showing your dog is a service dog. Furthermore, their rights as business owners, staff or landlords allow them to ask you two questions:
Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Neither of which require proof of your need for a service dog, or your dog’s true use for service. If it is a “requirement” of your city that your service dog is registered as such, this is considered illegal under the ADA. (Normal dog registration, licensing and vaccination requirements still apply to service dogs dependent on your city).
If the registration of a service dog is not a requirement, why do you see so many service dog registration sites online?
Sadly, there’s a simple answer for this one too; those sites are taking advantage of people’s misunderstanding of the law. In our research, we found an endless number of websites offering some reasonably convincing (to the untrained eye), official looking documentation for service animals – with some even charging as much as $200 (for a completely useless, unofficial piece of paper)!
From the Department of Justice:
“There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.”
Please do not fall for these scams.
You do not need documentation for a service dog.
You do not need to register a service dog.
“A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”
If your service animal performs a specific task (or tasks) to mitigate your disability and is well trained for public access, you’re golden!
It is worth mentioning that there are some organisations with which you can voluntarily register, however, there should be no crazy fee, and their purpose is not to verify your dog’s legitimacy.
Some people think that due this lack of regulation, they can take their non-disability-mitigating pets to areas that are usually off-limits to dogs, and get away with it. Nope. It’s a federal crime and damaging legitimate service dog handler’s abilities to take their well-trained dogs in public.
If you have a friend or loved one that asks you how to register a service dog, explain to them how no such thing officially exists. Point them towards ada.gov to help brush them up on their rights and responsibilities, and help prevent putting money in scammers hands.
Resources and recommended reading:
- HUD.gov. Fair Housing – It’s Your Right. U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved from http://www.hud.gov/
- ADA.gov. Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals. U.S Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Retrieved from http://www.ada.gov/
- Accessible Journeys. Air Carrier Access Act. Accessible Journeys. Retrieved from http://disabilitytravel.com/