Facts about service animals

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A service animal, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is a dog of any breed or miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.  For example, providing stability for a person who has difficulty walking or picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair.  Some disabilities are not as visible, such as the case with depression.  A person with depression may have an animal that is trained to remind her to take her medication.  However, the animal would not qualify as a service animal if it only provided comfort; a service animal must perform a task(s).  

A service animal does not need to be registered or certified by any state, government agency, or organization.  Nor, are service animals required to wear an identifying vest, ID tag, or specific harness.  The service animal can either be trained by the handler or a professional.  In the state of NC, a service animal in training is required to wear a collar and leash, harness or cape that identifies it as a Service Animal in Training and is afforded the same rights as a service animal under the ADA.  An individual with a service animal should not be denied housing or access on a plane because of the service animal under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

It is important to note that emotional support and therapy animals are not considered service animals because they are not specifically trained to perform a job or task and therefore not protected under the ADA.  However, since emotional support animals provide therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability they are protected by the FHA and ACAA.  Therapy dogs, those that provide affection and comfort to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities, are not protected by any federal or state laws and are deemed permitted into public places on a case-by-case basis.  


Dr. Susan Bonilla is the owner of Passionate Paws Animal Hospital in Waxhaw, offering traditional and complementary treatment options.  She is certified in acupuncture, chiropractic, and physical therapy.  You can reach her at 704-256-7576 or e-mail at Hello@PassionatePaws.Vet

Grooming Tip of the Week

We often hear, “my pet has his teeth brushed at the groomer, so he doesn’t need a dental”.  If that is the only brushing happening then it is not nearly enough to prevent the need for a veterinarian-performed dental cleaning.  Imagine what your child’s teeth would like if you only allowed them to brush their teeth once every 4-8 weeks.  To aid in the defense against plaque and tartar buildup, you must brush your pet’s teeth at least 3 times a week and complement brushing with an oral aid such as Oravet chews or an oral rinse.

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