AZ Dog Licensing Laws
We wish to remind our readers that the FSDS administration and staff are not legal professionals, and any information contained in this article is not intended to be construed as a legal opinion or advice.
The FSDS has recently become aware that the law that prohibits counties from charging a licensing fee for service dogs (SD)s might be open to some ambiguity, resulting in inconsistent application across the state. This law, ARS 11-1008 states: “F. Notwithstanding subsection A of this section, the board of supervisors of each county may not charge an individual who has a disability and who uses a service animal as defined in section 11-1024 or an individual who uses a search or rescue dog a license fee for that dog.” We note that ARS 11-1024 includes service dogs-in-training (SDITs) in Subsection E.
It appears the intent of 11-1024 was to include SDITs, and to provide handlers the same protections from discrimination and undue charges as those provided to SDs. The FSDS has become aware while some counties offer protection from licensing charges for SDITs, others have opted to charge for licensing services. In Maricopa County, for example, individuals who are training SDs for persons with disabilities are charged fees. In fact, the FSDS was recently charged $336 to license its SDITs. Maricopa County officials have denied our request for refunds, citing item 5 that states “service animal” means any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Service animal does not include other species of animals, whether wild or domestic or trained or untrained.” Subsection E, as noted above, was not included in this interpretation.
In order to qualify for the fee waiver, the county requires the individual making a request to sign a form that states that his or her dog is a SD. No proof of training is required, despite the fact that ADA Law clearly defines a SD as “a dog that has been trained..”. The county has explained to the FSDS that their system is an “honor system”. We are concerned that individuals who falsely sign this statement may retain a copy for their records, and now have official paperwork that bears the county seal as “proof” that their dog is a SD. Those same individuals may now take this paperwork with them in public and use this to gain access to public places. In the past individuals who sought false credentials had to purchase them online, however, the potential exists that the current system removes the need for individuals seeking false credentials to purchase them, as the county will now issue this paperwork free of charge.
In light of the mounting problems with “fake SDs” in our community, the FSDS is concerned that individuals who are properly training their SDITs, and who accurately and honestly report when their SDITs are in-training are left at a distinct disadvantage. Individuals who falsely or misleadingly report their pets are SDs to avoid fees will be rewarded. Individuals with disabilities often struggle financially- some face long and difficult battles to gain their disability benefits, and they are left with minimal or no income during that time. These fees only serve to further disadvantage them. The alarming number of individuals who parade untrained pets into public places have led to the inescapable conclusion that the “honor” system is broken, and does not provide credible proof a dog is indeed trained as a SD, as required by federal ADA Law.
Though many cite the provision under ADA law that prohibits a business from requesting evidence the dog is indeed trained as a SD as the reason that counties do not require adequate proof of training, we must raise the question of whether or not this provision was intended to extend to county agencies charged with the task of licensing dogs as SDs; and who therefore have a clear “need to know” for additional information. An analogy can be drawn to a physicians office- a medical practice is a business. Though businesses are not permitted to ask a person about his or her disabilities, physicians must ask detailed questions in order to perform their duties. In this scenario, there is a clear need to know. It would seem that counties charged with the responsibility of licensing dogs as SD or SDITs would have a similar need to know and should be permitted to require proof of training in order to effectively discharge their duties.
The FSDS is interested to learn more about the experiences of its readers. If you have licensed your SDIT in AZ, we ask you to share with us whether or not you declared your dog to be an SDIT, if you were charged a fee and the county in which your dog is licensed. Information will be compiled as aggregate data, with any names or identifying information held confidential. Please send your comments to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
EM Campus– What a busy month this has been for our EM students. They have been hard at work preparing for their upcoming Public Access Test, and while other students are taking a vacation for the summer, they have been out and about on field trips. Recently, they took their dogs to a restaurant for the first time, and all teams did an admirable job. The students have also taken their dogs to be neutered this summer, as the FSDS routinely neuters all SDITs just prior to their first birthday. Students did an excellent job of caring for their dogs during the following days while they got some R and R. This month the class took some field trips together to work on public access. They visited Harkins Theatres to view the new movie “Inside Out”, the AZ Science Center to visit the “Gross-Ology” Exhibit and Cabela’s to visit the taxidermy displays and practice walking up and down stairs. Visit our Photo Gallery below to have a look at how our teams did.
Congratulations to the following teams who recently passed their Public Access Test:
- Sarah Couture and “Fonzie”
- Joslyn Jendry and Remy
- Megan Gruntmeier and Trevor
Good luck to the following students who will test in August:
- Nadia Dimang and Levi
- Abby Corbin and Gaston
- Salem Ruiz and Cody
- Karen Molina and Caleb
Congratulations also to teachers and their SDITs who passed as well:
- Mrs. Sally Cebulski and Doug
- Mrs. Veronica Wiley and Katie
PV Campus– This year we are excited to report that we are starting a new program on the PV campus, and it is going to be our largest class ever. We are delighted to welcome the following students to our program (with more applications on the way):
- Allie Alldredge
- Madeline Green
- Jordan Joslin
- Olivia Kane
- Tessa Lynch
- Haleigh Hinkel
- Grace Ganahl
- Diego Ontiveros
- Sophia Mullins
- Madison Papin
- Winsome Choudry
- Hannah Moncrief
- Isabella Ianetta
- Zoe Betts
- Jayden Thomas
- Samantha Hirsch
- Kaya Kennedy
- Mariah Downen
We have reserved a litter of beautiful purebred Golden Retrievers for the new PV class, and they are due to be born any day now. Stay tuned for photos.
FSDS to Launch New Youth Initiative
We are excited about the upcoming school year and a new initiative to build a youth mentorship canine safety and SD education program. Students will be permitted to take the canine safety training program at a reduced fee, then earn their Jr Instructor certification by assistant teaching at skills stations while they are in high school. On their 18th birthday, those students who have done well will be permitted to advance to Sr. Instructors and qualify to work with the FSDS as paid safety instructors. Included in this course is a station on SD and disability issues. This initiative will be piloted on the AAEC PV campus, and it is our hope that this will spread to other campuses across the Valley. The program, as designed, will be self-supporting and will require no expenditure on the part of schools. If you or your school are interested in learning more about how you can bring this training to your location, please contact the FSDS.
Outreach Program Reaches Milestone
In the Fall of 2008 the FSDS launched its Outreach Certification Program. This program started with just a handful of Evaluators and over the years has been carefully grown. We have carefully screened applicants, selecting on the most qualified candidates. We are pleased to announce that we have just admitted our 100th Evaluator. We are excited about our continued growth and are committed to continuing to place credible certification testing and certification within the grasp of all teams, regardless of their geographic location. Plans are underway to expand our Outreach services, stay tuned for further information in the months to come.
It has come to our attention that some Evaluators are accepting videotaped evidence of a dog performing a task for use in scoring the Certification Test. Videotapes can be edited and are never permissible. FSDS adheres strictly to the gold standard of in-person testing. In the event that a task is not able to be reproduced, such as alerting to a seizure, the Evaluator may note that this is an issue, but test other related tasks that a seizure alert dog should be trained to perform. examples of such tasks include but are not limited to summoning help, staying with the person if they are on the floor (this can be simulated), fetching medications, etc. For diabetes alert dogs, saliva samples can be used for testing purposes.
Just a reminder about poisonous toads. In some regions, toads are ubiquitous and can be dangerous for your dog. The two most dangerous species are the Colorado River Toad, and the Marine Toad . Poisoning most often occurs by one of two means: either the dog catches the toad in its mouth, or the toad eats or drinks from the pet food / water dishes left outdoors. In either case, worst case scenario toad venom poisoning can lead to death. we remind all readers not to leave pet food or water dishes outdoors, and to supervise your dogs play and outdoor time always. Hot weather is when toads are most active, with early morning or evening after sunset being the highest risk times of day.
Our Family is Growing!
We are pleased to welcome the following individuals to the FSDS:
Miriam W. Peterman– co-founder of the FSDS has accepted a position as HR and Certification Manager. Miriam has been a nurse for over 50 years, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Human Services.
Jaymie Cardin has joined our Volunteer Services and will soon be hired to our teaching staff as a Canine Safety Instructor. Jaymie is a recent graduate of our youth-based SD training program at AAEC High School, and will be attending college locally to earn her Vet Tech Certificate and a degree in Animal Behavior.
Val Lugo has been offered a position as a Canine Safety Instructor with our teaching staff and will join us later this month when she turns 18. Val is a recent graduate of our youth-based SD training program at AAEC High school and will be attending college locally as a pre-law student.
Gloria Johnson has joined our Volunteer Services. She has a Master’s Degree in Education and is an experienced grant writer. Gloria will be assisting the FSDS as a grant writer.
Kartiki Parupudi has joined our Volunteer Services. She is a graduate student at ASU and her thesis is developing apps to improve communication between SD team members.
Happy Retirement and Welcome to a New Ambassador
This month Canine Ambassador “Emma” will retire on her 10th birthday after many years of service. Emma is a certified mobility service dog, and in addition to faithfully serving her handler since she was young, she has served as canine ambassador for the FSDS since 2008. Over the course of the years she has attended numerous events, and has served the FSDS well. We wish her many long and happy years of retirement.
We are pleased to welcome our new Canine Ambassador, Freddie, as Emma’s successor. Freddie is a purebred Golden Retriever, and a recently certified mobility dog. At just 18 months of age he is eager to please and looking forward to a long and rewarding career as a service dog for his handler and an Ambassador of Good Will for the FSDS.
Pawsitive Community Program at Work
A couple of years ago the FSDS launched its Pawsitive Community Program (PCP) to permit individuals to earn their service dog by donating at least 250 hours of service to the community. We believe strongly that volunteerism is important, and makes our community a better place to live, work and play. Once again, we see evidence that this idea has caught on. We received a lovely email from Katie Aswad, a local teen who has been earning her SD. Katie has been volunteering at her church, and recently shared with members of the congregation that she was working towards earning her SD. When her fellow parishioners heard this, they began to donate their hours as well. To date, Katie and her friends have volunteered over 400 hours, with no plan to stop soon. We have been informed that they plan to continue to work hours and to donate this time to the FSDS Hours Bank to assist others in obtaining their dogs. Good job, Katie and friends!