Arizona Amends Service Dog Laws
On April 5, 2013, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2401 that amends service dog definitions. These changes were written to render current AZ law consistent with the changes in ADA Law that took effect in March of 2011. With regard to the definition of “service dog” the following wording has been added:
“…if the work or tasks performed by the service animal are directly related to the individual’s disability. Work or tasks include assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing nonviolent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities and helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well‑being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks“
In addition to these changes, the designation of “service animal” has been changed to include only canines “or miniature horse” and after the words “for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including…” insert the words “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.”
We also note that references to service dogs as “guide dogs” has been amended to include all categories of service dogs.
These changes underscore the importance of proper training to ensure that those service dogs who are granted public access have truly received training and possess the ability to perform discernible tasks designed to mitigate the disabilities of handlers. Additionally, this law will hopefully deter individuals who bring non-canine animals into public with false claims that they are service animals. We also note that violation of the rights of service dog owners in the State of Arizona is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties may vary from State to State so we recommend that handlers become familiar with laws in their region.
In addition to the above bill, a second bill (H.B. 2355) was signed the same day. This bill prohibits Counties from charging a licensing fee for service dogs and amends ARS Section 1, 9-500.32 to read as follows:
“A city or town 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. The applicant shall provide adequate proof satisfactory to the enforcement agent that the dog is a service animal or a search or rescue dog.”
It amends Section 2, 11-1008 F to read:
“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. The applicant shall provide adequate proof satisfactory to the enforcement agent that the dog is a service animal or a search or rescue dog.”
We note that section one requires that the handler provide “adequate proof” that the dog is a service animal. We remind handlers that though certification is not mandated under law, this is indication of a time when a program certification will most likely be beneficial.
These newly signed bills take effect 90 days from the end of the legislative session.
New ADA Website
The Department of Justice ADA website has gotten a facelift. This is the first revision since 2002, and is designed to be more user-friendly for individuals seeking information. You can visit the ADA website to learn more.
Team of the Month
This month we recognize “Team Estrella”- our entire class at the Estrella Mountain Campus of Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center (AAEC) High School. We also recognize the “silent” members of this team, who have worked hard behind the scenes to support this program and make it a reality. We would like to publicly recognize and thank Dr. Mona Ramirez, Principal; Brian Snoddy, Asst. Principal; Suzanne Drakes, Administrator; Dr. Wm. Conley, Administrator; Angelica Hernandez, support staff; and most importantly Linda Proctor-Downing, Executive Director at AAEC for her vision and her belief in the power of the students to change the world. We are proud to partner with AAEC, and blessed with the support and involvement of such an exceptional team.
Notice to Evaluators
Attention all Evaluators in our Outreach Certification Program: please be certain to return the original and signed copies of the certification test immediately. The Proof of Passing form must be given to the candidate, and the test must be returned to the FSDS prior to us releasing certification materials to the team. We remind all Evaluators that given the recent changes to ADA Law and State laws, it is more important than ever to ensure that all teams are performing in accordance with standards. The legal distinctions that separate emotional support dogs from service dogs are clearly outlined, and the law is clear that service dogs must be able to demonstrate an ability to perform discernible tasks to mitigate the disability of the handler. What this means is that the evaluator must personally witness the task being performed in order for that task to qualify as one of the three specified tasks for testing purposes.
Be advised that we have posted the latest edition of the CSD Team Manual and the SD evaluator guide on our site. Revisions are periodically necessary to reflect the changes in Federal and State law. Please familiarize yourself with the new manuals.
May was an exciting month for all. Throughout the month, the students and staff worked hard preparing for the first of three tests that the dogs must pass on their road to becoming certified service dogs…the Canine Good Citizen Test. After many long months of work, we are pleased to report that all of our teams were successful.
May also brought with it an opportunity for our teams to travel to the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital, both in Phoenix, to conduct a Grand Rounds training session for medical staff. The purpose of the session was to provide medical professionals with information on selection and referral of appropriate patients who may benefit from the task assistance of a service dog. Accompanying our student teams were FSDS Community Educator Becky Brooks, and service dog recipient, Sue Sisely, MD. We are so proud of our teens for the outstanding performance, and for our staff and Dr. Sisely for their valuable contributions.
May also marks the official end of the first year of this program for our teens. Congratulations on a successful first year. All teens have been promoted to year two, and will also now serve as mentors for the new students who will start with us this August.
June is here, and soon we will witness the official start of another monsoon season. On the east coast, our friends will be bracing themselves for the start of hurricane season. We remind all of our readers that dogs can be stressed by inclement weather. Every effort should be made to avoid taking service dogs out in thunder storms or monsoons. For those who also have pet dogs, make certain that your dogs are not left in the yard when you are not at home. Dust storms or other large storms can arise with little warning and can place your dog in jeopardy. Stay indoors, and stay safe.