The Facts About Service Dogs

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Tune in as Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder, Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer, and Dawn Taylor, Service Dog Owner and Volunteer, talk about the REAL facts about Service Dogs along with how Service Dogs are different from Emotional Support Animals.

 
This video is part of the Pet Voices LIVE series. CLICK HERE to see the full schedule of videos.

INTRODUCTION

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:02

Hello, and welcome to Pet Voices LIVE this week. I’m really excited today because we’re talking about the facts. Okay. The FACTS around service dogs and there’s so much misinformation out there. I think it’s really important to just have a discussion about the truth, the real facts. And so with us today, we have Dawn Taylor who is a service dog owner and she volunteers for a service dog organization, so she helps educate others. She’s also an author of children’s books.

And then we also have Geralynn Cada. And she’s a certified professional dog trainer, service dog trainer, and is an AKC EGC evaluator. We’ll talk about what that is in a minute. But she is here to give her wisdom and Dawn is here to give hers and her experience, so that we can have a real discussion around service dogs: what they are, why they matter and what kind of things are important for us as general pet lovers to know about them. Because there’s a lot of, I think, myth busting that needs to happen.

So with that, what I would love, Geralynn, can you help us just understand what defines a service dog? What are those parameters that we need to know?

WHAT IS A SERVICE DOG?

Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer – 1:11

Absolutely, Chloe and Dawn. Thank you guys for hosting this today because it’s really important and it’s a matter of courtesy because I look at all dogs as service animals, but the most important part is the ones that actually have a dedicated job that they are committed to every day. Those dogs we set aside as having an extra special job, although I think all animals are extra special. They have an extra special job because theirs could be life or death for somebody. That’s where we kind of set aside the designation of service dog, emotional support dog, or therapy dog.

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 1:55

Love it. Yeah, that’s so helpful.

Dawn, I know in conversations that we’ve had, because you have a service dog, and so like what Geralynn just said, what about that becomes for you, you’re… How do I want to say this? I’m almost actually thinking right now about the questions I’m allowed to ask and not ask. That’s what I’m trying to get at… as a service dog owner, so you know what the service dog is. It’s there. It’s allowed to be with you in so many places and yet we being the general population, managers of places, if you bring it to a hotel, wherever you bring it, are restricted on asking about your disability, but not necessarily how the dog helps you. Is that correct?

Dawn Taylor, Service Dog Owner and Author – 2:41

Yeah, you can ask if the dog is tasked to mitigate a disability. You can’t ask about the disability or anything personal, you can only ask if they’re tasked to mitigate a disability. And the person can only say, “Yes, they are my service dog. And I do have a disability.” And that’s as far as I have to go with it.

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 3:14

And that’s ADA rules, right? Because it’s kind of… somebody once explained it to me, which made a lot of sense. It’s no different than seeing somebody in a wheelchair and you’re not allowed to say to them, “Why are you in a wheelchair?” It’s the same kind of thought. So in essence, if I was a manager of a restaurant, you came up with your service dog, and I was wondering, for some reason, if it was a legit service dog, which we’ll talk about in a second. I could say to you something like, “Oh, what’s your dog’s name? And what does it help you with?” versus saying, “Why do you need it?” Is that accurate?

Dawn Taylor, Service Dog Owner and Author – 3:49

It’s basically the same kind of question. A service dog technically is considered a medical equipment. So it’s the same kind of question. You can only say, “I have a service dog and I do have a disability.” That’s as far as they can go with the questioning. You can’t ask about the disability or what it was tasked for.

WHAT MAKES A SERVICE DOG SPECIAL?

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 4:12

Interesting. Okay.

And let’s talk a little bit, Geralynn, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this because as somebody who has trained many dogs including service dogs, I’m sure it can be frustrating to see people out there trying to pass other dogs off as service dogs when they aren’t. Dawn, I’m sure it’s frustrating for you too, because I can even see how it has created a space where a lot of… airlines are a good example, are wary of it because even if they’ve got registration… You can buy these things online now unfortunately. What is it that makes a service dog that you could see and you could be like that is definitely a trained service dog?

Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer – 5:05

Well, that’s a really great point to bring up. Because my main focus when I train a service dog is training self composure. If a dog out in the open with his owner or without its owner right next to them can maintain self composure. Say I asked my dog to sit in the middle of the airport, and I lay its leash down and I ask them to stay and I walk away. They can’t see me but they still stay there and maintain their composure and sit until I come back and release them. People can walk by and kids can be screaming and wheelchairs can be going by and sliding glass doors, who knows maybe they’re in Vegas airport and the bells and whistles are going off. You know that the quality I am training into a service dog. Self composure at all moments no matter what.

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:58

I know that because you’re saying that. Dawn, you’ve shared with us in conversations that that’s exactly what Pia Pia does, your service dog. And yet you’ve seen, I know you’ve shared stories with me, other service dogs who haven’t responded in that way which is a clear cue right?

Dawn, you volunteer with the service organization and I know you’ve dealt with this a little bit and Geralynn, I’m sure you have thoughts too. But what happens to people who do that and get caught?

WHAT HAPPENS TO FAKE SERVICE DOG OWNERS?

Dawn Taylor, Service Dog Owner and Author – 6:36

On a state level? Well, stores have the right to ask the dog to leave because they’re either being disruptive or disturbing other patrons And by law at that time, they can ask them to leave with their service dogs. Because, as Geralynn will say, that that’s not a service dog. You don’t bark. Pia Pia is trained to bark, but to give a small bark to get out of a stressful situation. That’s for anxiety and stuff like that. And she does, but it’s a very low bark.

But someone who’s constantly barking or a dog taking products and opening like bread off of a grocery store. You do have those dogs that are trained to help pick up products and put them in grocery carts. That’s allowed, but to open, that’s not allowed. So again, those are the dogs that can be requested to leave the property. And if they are caught that technically no, they’re not a service dog, different states do have laws now that they can be fined or even jailed. But that would be up to the state. Again it’s one of those gray lines when it comes to that as Geralynn will actually agree. It’s a gray area.

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 8:14

Yeah. Have you seen anything happen, Geralynn, ever or know of that?

Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer – 8:18

Oh, absolutely. I’ve watched people with full on service gear, dog gear walk in, and two will walk in and the two dogs will start growling and barking at each other, both of them. I’m like, “Well, I know what’s going on here.” But also, as Dawn will attest, a real service dog is constantly in training. They are not really ever done and they know the difference between off duty and on duty. So they’re trained to know when they’re working and when they get a break. Where our normal dogs, normal everyday lap dog, or what have you dog may have a different way of being trained into his thinking pattern. So if that makes sense and also we use triggers like we put a vest on a dog to help it know “You’re working right now.” And taking the vest off doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not working but a word, a release word, or something else. Maybe that action, a schedule, what have you.

So but yes, I’ve seen a few dogs on airplanes get kicked off.

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 9:18

Oh, really?

Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer – 9:19

Oh, yes. I actually just witnessed, right before all of the COVID shut down, I was flying where a lady was flying a service dog. And I knew it wasn’t a service dog right away by the way it was acting and so I sat next to her on the airplane on purpose. Truth be told, because I knew they were going to kick her off and I knew I would have the whole row to myself selfishly. So they did kick her off with the dog and I did have the whole row to myself.

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 9:47

Oh Geralynn.

Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer – 9:49

I had nothing to do with it. I just knew it because I saw the moment she was in the airport, they were already watching her and the way the dog was acting and then when she got on the airplane, and even the carrier she had it was all inappropriate, not regulated. I was shocked they let her on the plane. So I thought what the heck?

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 10:04

Yeah. Oh my gosh.

Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer – 10:06

I did help keep the dog calm by just sitting there.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SERVICE DOG, THERAPY ANIMAL, AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?

Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 10:09

Yeah, I’m sure. Good work, sort of.

Let’s take a minute and talk about the differences between service dogs, emotional support animals, and even therapy dogs. I know we have people who either are legit service dog owners or legit therapy dog or therapy animal…. There’s so many different kinds of therapy animals. I know right now, Healing Whiskers, they have therapy rats and I see Abby’s here.

Geralynn Cada, Service Dog Trainer – 10:45

I have my little pin over here that says… I see it every day. It’s so cute.

 
Find out more about service dogs, therapy animals, and emotional support animals by watching the full video above!

 
For more information on Service Dogs, Geralynn Cada, and Dawn Taylor:

FAQ about Service Animals and the ADA

Geralynn Cada – GC Pet Style of Life

Dawn Taylor – Pia Pia, a Pug with a Purpose