Author Topic: We were told an ESD is not really considered a service dov  (Read 705 times)

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Offline JacquieLou

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Hello. I am new in this forum and I'm hoping you can help me and my husband. My husband suffers from severe depression and anxiety issues so he was able to register Lulubelle and Lorenzo as emotional support dogs. We were recently at Trader Joe's with our pets. They were both on leashes with service dog tags & Id's. One of the staff approached us and asked what type of service dogs they were. I told them they were for emotional support. He said emotional support dogs are not really considered service dogs so we were asked to leave the store. Is this true? If not, what could we have said and done to protect our rights? Thank you in advance.

Offline Kirsten

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Re: We were told an ESD is not really considered a service dov
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2017, 02:33:13 PM »
That's true.  Title III of the ADA, which applies to public accommodations (stores, restaurants, offices, etc.) does not require those businesses to permit emotional support animals, only service dogs.

Other laws, such as the FHAct (which applies to most housing) and ACAA (which applies to commercial aircraft) do require most landlords and operators of commercial aircraft to permit emotional support animals with appropriate documentation (doctors letters that contain specific information*).

Unfortunately there are unscrupulous businesses which will sell fake registration and certification and mislead people into thinking this means their animal must be permitted when the law says no such certification or registration is required nor does it mean the animal must be permitted.

Under the ADA, the requirement for public access is that the person be legally disabled and the animal individually trained to do some work or tasks that the person is unable to perform for themselves because of their disability.

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* the format for these letters differs between housing and flying.  The one for flying is more explicit and spells out things like that it has to be on the doctor's letterhead, has to be dated and less than a year old, and has to specifically state the person is disabled by a condition that is listed in the DSM-IV, though it is not required that the specific diagnosis be given.  The one for housing is similar in that it needs to come from a medical provider, not an online company, but you don't have to mention the DSM-IV but do have to describe the nexus between the animal and the disability (explain how the presence of the animal mitigates the person's disability).
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 02:40:51 PM by Kirsten »
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Kirsten

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Re: We were told an ESD is not really considered a service dov
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2017, 02:35:40 PM »
Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

The document that quote is from (see link at top of quote) is a good plain English overview of how the ADA applies in a typical business concerning service animals.  At the bottom of the last page is toll-free hotline number you can call for additional information from the US Department of Justice, the federal regulatory agency charged with implementing and enforcing the ADA.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline missythewriter

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Re: We were told an ESD is not really considered a service dov
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2017, 05:12:02 PM »
Elaborating on what Kirsten said, yes, it's true, emotional support animals are not service dogs. They do not have public access rights, and therefore can't go into pet-prohibited businesses like Trader Joe's.

Service dogs undergo countless hours upon hours of intense training to be service dogs. It is a very difficult process to train a service dog, and a very small percent of dogs are even capable of being so. Though your husband finds comfort with his emotional support dogs, having them in the store can be a distraction to service dogs, and a misrepresentation to businesses that aren't as informed as your Trader Joe's was.

As well, there is no such thing as certification or registration for ESAs or service dogs in the USA. Any businesses claiming to sell documentation, IDs, etc. are just out to scam people--those documents, tags, certificates, etc. don't mean anything legally.

Thank you for reaching out to find out the truth, that is wonderfully honest. :smile:

Offline Kirsten

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Re: We were told an ESD is not really considered a service dov
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2017, 05:19:15 PM »
That's industry terminology (where we differentiate between emotional support animals and service animals specifically because the laws can apply differently) but not legally accurate terminology.

Under the FHAct and ACAA, emotional support animals are considered a type of service animal.  (But these laws apply only to most housing and commercial aircraft, respectively, not to businesses that serve the public such as Trader Joe's.)

Similarly, the industry definition of "assistance animal" is a service animal, guide animal or hearing animal.  This is the generally accepted definition internationally, EXCEPT in the US, where "assistance animal" includes ESAs and may include therapy animals as well, depending on which department of the government is speaking.  Numerous attempts have been made to get the US government to use industry standard terminology, but each department has refused.  Even the definition of "service animal" is not in agreement with international usage (ie a dog other than a guide dog or hearing dog that is specially trained to assist a person with a disability).  This further conflicts with police use of the term "service dog" to mean a police dog.

It's a mess.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest