Open letter to Nat Carter, who gave us a non-existent email address for response.
Nat Carter sent a message using the contact form.
Your "poll" is greatly biased and poorly designed. You ignore the reason service animals are not to be used as therapy animals.
Further, TDI DOES allow the disabled to test with a pet dog, even bring their service animal along IF they have private ins. on the service animal and have tested to show they can handle both the therapy dog and their service animal at the same time.
As a disabled person who DOES do pet therapy work at an Alzheimer's clinic, I vehemently disagree with your claims and object to your false claims. My service animal has his job, my pet dog who has trained to work as a therapy animal for others has her job. While my service animal is capable of doing therapy work that is NOT the job he is there to do.
Stop stirring up stupid law suits where there is no real issue.
Our response to Nat Carter, which was rejected by the complainant's email provider as the account was nonexistent:
And they require that that they test with two dogs while no one else
is required to do so, which you will admit is more difficult than
testing with one. They require the disabled owner to provide private
liability insurance (for a dog) which costs an average of $1,000 per
year on the service dog. They require the disabled person to sign a
waiver removing their own protections under TDI's insurance so that
while all other human members are protected by insurance while
traveling to and from visits are covered by insurance people with
disabilities and ONLY people with disabilities are not.
Most people with disabilities do not own a pet dog in addition to
their service dog because they can't. Some programs forbid it, some
landlords forbid it, and since most people with disabilities live
below the poverty level, expecting them to own and provide for two
dogs, while no one else is expected to do so, is an unreasonable
TDI is the ONLY therapy dog program, of dozens recognized by the ADA
that does not understand what a service dog is.
The reason they don't permit it has nothing to do with whether or not
the dog can perform the function but with Ursula Kempe's misguided and
naive belief that service dogs never have down time and never interact
with people other than their disabled owners. If their test is unable
to screen out dogs that are unable to do the job, then they need a
different test. However, when the average service dog is tested using
the TDI test against the average pet, the service dog is far more
likely to pass with flying colors because of his extensive training
and his handler's extensive training. There have been many service
dog owners among TDI's teams who did exemplary work, without complaint
from anyone, but because of these biases, they are now getting kicked
Ursula Kempe also assumes that someone who has received over 100 hours
of professional training on handling their dog in public situations,
under stress, reading their dogs' stress level and reacting
appropriately (the typical service dog owner) is less capable than
someone who may have had no training at all in making their own
determination about what is best for their own dog (the typical pet
The poll is not biased. It simply asks whether service dogs should be
automatically excluded as unable to do the work, or should be tested
the same as any other dog. That is precisely the issue at hand. If
you take issue with the fact that some 95% of people who have taken
the poll agree that TDI's position is wrong, then the bias is in
Just because your own service dog is inadequate to the job, do not
assume everyone else's is as well. Most pet dogs are also inadequate
to the job, but they aren't excluded just for being pet dogs. They
get to take the test to determine whether or not they can participate.
SDs have to take the test and still not participate and the owner is
otherwise treated very disadvantageously. If you don't need your
service dog like some of us do in order to travel, or have the
finances to throw around $1,000 for private dog liability insurance,
more power to you. That is not the case with most of us.
The complaint has already been submitted over a month ago. The
Department of Justice should rule on the matter in about 50 days.
(these rules are subject to frequent changes without warning or logic)
Who may test and register with TDI:
any non-disabled adult of good character with a healthy dog that can hear and is over one year of age – it does not matter whether the dog is a pet, sport dog, or working dog of any kind, so long as the human partner is not disabled
Who may test and register with TDI WITH additional conditions:
people with disabilities with pet dogs (only if the dog is not trained to assist them in any way)
people with disabilities with a pet and a service dog (only if they have private liability insurance* on the SD and handle two dogs)
people with deaf dogs (only if the dog passes additional startle testing)
people with fake internet service dog certification (only if they are not actually disabled)
people with dogs trained to assist them (only if they are not disabled)
people under 18 (must have a parent or legal guardian present)
Who may not test or register with TDI:
people with disabilities with their service dog
any person who visits, is registered by, or is active under the auspices of another Therapy Dog-related visitation program, organization, or group other than TDI.
*private liability insurance on a dog with no bite history is typically about $1,000 per year, which is why therapy groups purchase group insurance so members can benefit from considerable discounts.
Don't forget to vote in our poll: http://servicedogcentral.org in the right sidebar.
Have you been discriminated against? We want to hear from you. Please email your account of what happened and any copies if email correspondence you may have to TDI-discrimination at servicedogcentral dot org.
TDI requires disabled to provide separate insurance in order to participate:
Evaluator News Sheet
Dear Certified TDI Evaluators,
This is the very first news sheet I am sending out to all of our current
evaluators. I created this communication to be able to update you on our
latest rule changes, requirements and other news updates which must be
Rules and Regulations approved by TDI's Board of Directors:
TDI will not register service dogs.
We will allow a person with disabilities to test with a pet dog (not a
service dog). If the person with disabilities has a service dog then it must
be handled and be part of the test at the same time the other dog (pet dog)
is tested. The evaluator must be able to decide if the person being tested
is able to handle both dogs (service dog and pet dog ) at the same time. TDI
cannot guarantee that even if the second dog (not the service dog) is
certified, that a facility will allow access with two dogs. That is up to
the facility wherever a handler decides to be visiting.
The handler must carry liability insurance for the service dog and must sign
a disclaimer with TDI (at the time of registration) that we are not liable
or responsible for either the handler's or the service dog's actions. The
only dog insured under TDI's insurance will be the pet dog who has to pass
our regular TDI test with the service dog who has to be handled at the same
TDI cannot guarantee access to facilities. It is up to the facility to allow
TDI has revised its policy about the testing and registration of "Deaf
Deaf dogs can be tested and registered if they pass an additional test
especially for Deaf Dogs only. This test is called the "Startle Test".
Startle Test (for deaf dogs only):
The dog and handler will be visiting with a person. As the dog is
concentrating on the visit, a volunteer will, unbeknownst to the handler and
the dog, approach from the rear and start petting and touching the dog on
its rear quarters (rump).
The dog cannot be startled and react in a negative way, meaning it cannot go
into avoidance trying to get away or into an aggressive mode.
The dog's behavior should show welcome and acceptance of being petted from
all sides without showing any negative reaction.
Please direct your questions and comments to: email@example.com
Ursula A. Kempe
Therapy Dogs International (TDI) proudly discriminates against the disabled. I am now organizing plaintiffs for a class action suit against them. Please use the contact page to reach me if you have been discriminated against by TDI because of your service dog.
A service dog is what it states, a service dog. Who does the service dog serve? A human in need of a service dog. If a dog is a service dog it must focus on the person in need of the service. A therapy dog is a therapy dog and must focus on the person being seen to provide emotional service. A dog cannot give its all and concentrate on two people at once. It is unfair to demand this of a dog. TDI prides itself in protecting the people we see and also the dogs we register.
It is presumptuous to state that a person receiving 2-4 weeks of training is an expert of dog behavior. The study of dogs and their behavior is a job of a life time.
Ursula A. Kempe
Please don't harass me or our office staff. I will block you from sending any further emails. We will not register you with your service dog. These are our rules. I explained in a previous email why. We don't discriminate against you, we are protecting service animals from serving double duty and we are trying to bring to those in need a dog who can be totally focused on the person being visited. Physically challenged people can register a pet dog with us after passing our test, just not their service dog. So you tell me against whom we discriminate?
Ursula A. Kempe
Apparently due to their lack of understanding of what a service dog is or does, similar to PeTA, TDI assumes that service dogs work 24/7/365 without respite. They are apparently unaware that the majority of a service dog's work day is spent napping at his handler's side.
The big issue is: how effective is their test if they are unable to identify dogs that are stressed? They appear unconcerned about pet dogs and handlers with little or no formal training, so long as they can pass the test on the day it is given. She discounts the team training that service dog partners typically undergo as insufficient to qualify a person to safely handle a dog, yet TDI requires no training at all of their members in safe handling or reading a dog's stress.
Why then treat the people with service dogs more harshly than those with ordinary pets? The reasoning may be revealed in material they previously had posted on their own website, including:
"Currently all dogs which are registered with TDI provide emotional
service only! Laws in various states are confusing and often use the
phrase “Therapy Dogs” to indicate dogs that may or may not be dogs
used for emotional service. Laws have to be read carefully as
sometimes the legislators are not aware of the difference between an
emotional service dog and an assistance dog for people with
disabilities. Emotional service dogs are the type of dogs which are
registered with TDI. TDI dogs do not have the same rights as
assistance dogs, which at times are also referred to as Therapy Dogs."
This statement clearly shows their confusion about what a service dog is vs what a therapy dog is, but does it suggest more? Is the suggestion that therapy dogs are given some special rights under state laws intentionally misleading, or evidence of further ignorance? One thing is certain: they have a long history of issues with people who have service dogs, whether out of some sort of jealousy or misguided PeTA-like belief that service dogs are slaves rather than partners, I can't say.