The most common challenge for service dog handlers is what to do when an establishment denies a dog access. First, make sure that you are in compliance with the law. It sounds silly to even state this, but I’ve seen a lot. For example, not all states support a service dog in training (SDiT) for public access. If the dog is being disruptive, they can ask you to remove the dog. The dog can’t be off leash.
The Most Common Challenges for Service Dog Handlers
- You may have to educate businesses that don't know the law. You can carry business-card-size handouts if you struggle with confrontation. Unfortunately, people with invisible disabilities are questioned more often than me. I have both visible and invisible disabilities.
- It’s unnerving to get questioned — plain and simple. These challenges for service dog handlers are troubling. But it helps to prepare for those situation ahead of time.
- Corporate businesses question me more often than mom-and-pop shops. My most recent “confrontation and demand for paperwork” occurred in a well-known restaurant chain. I explained the law to the manager and I also contacted the corporate office afterwards.
- Document everything. Every time I work a dog in public, the dog is wearing a GoPro camera. The GoPro isn’t necessary, but it is very useful for documentation.
Another common challenge service dog handlers encounter is people talking to their service dog. I personally have the most issues when a vest is decorated. People don’t always read what is written on a vest, collar or leash. Other examples are poodles with a different haircut, or colored hair, or uncommon breeds. Things like these most definitely draw more attention. Understand that you may need to ask people to not distract your dog more often, than you would otherwise.
ID Cards, Certificates, and so on
Certificates, ID cards, papers, or documentation are NOT requirements. Wearing a vest is also not a requirement. according to the ADA, the only requirement is, that the dog performs at least one task to mitigate your disabilities. The problem with showing fake and unnecessary ID cards and/or irrelevant registries is, it will be a bigger challenge for the next service dog handler. They may be questioned if they don't have those fake papers.
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