After having a service animal for a short time, I've already experienced some struggles of having her. I have PTSD and a severe panic disorder, of which my dog is trained to sense and I can use her to remove myself from situations. She can also lay on my chest and calm me down during an attack. However, the way people are reacting to my dog in public places has been more detrimental than helpful.
You see, I went into a Walmart with my dog; her name is Stella. She is a trained dog, doesn't bark or go to the bathroom inside, etc. She was minding her business when I began getting yelled at by a greeter. He asked for proof of her service and asked for a badge or vest. The ADA says that businesses are allowed to do the following:
"In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability" (ada.gov).
There is actually no "badge" or "identification" for a service animal besides a vest, but these can be bought on Amazon. The badges people may have, and that this employee requested, are all frauds. They are from third party websites to present to those uneducated on service animals and the American Disabilities Act.
There are three types of animals that people may have. A service animal is the only one that can be brought into public places and businesses. An emotional support animal is different. They are allowed to travel with you on a plane and you cannot be discriminated against for housing. However, you can't bring them into public places.
This has been a difficult journey, since I have been training her but people keep judging me in public. I am not sure why businesses are so uneducated and it is frustrating and anxiety-provoking to have people yell at you about your dog. Businesses need to be more aware of the laws and understand the regulations. They are allowed to ask a dog to leave if it is barking or being disruptive, because that is obviously not a true service dog. Hopefully businesses can educate themselves and be wiser in the future.
Lead Image Credit: Pexels