Service Dogs (SD) vs Service Dogs in Training (SDIT): Responding to Public Access Challenges

ADA Law grants public access privileges to individuals with disabilities and their service dogs, however, this law does not address the issue of service dogs in training.  It is important for all teams in training, as well as student and professional trainers to be familiar with laws in their State.  This issue is further complicated by the fact that there are currently no legal guidelines that separate SDs from SDITs.  The result is a lot of public confusion.  This month we provide some practical tips to help teams respond to public challenges.

#1: Know the laws in your area.  For example, Arizona Laws specifically address the issue of SDITs, and state that SDITs are entitled to the same level of public access when accompanied by either an individual with a disability or a trainer.

#2: Carry a copy of the law with you.  In the event that you are denied public access and the police must be summoned, having a copy of the law with you will assist them in decision making.  Remember that officers may not encounter these challenges on a daily basis, and providing them immediate access to written information is a kind and gentle approach that will assist them in advocating for you.

#3: Avoid confrontation- this may frighten and/or agitate your dog, giving the business the grounds that they seek to order you off of the premises.  Remove your team from a heated situation and summon help as needed.  You do not have to fight this battle alone.

#4: Advocate for your team- remember that permitting a business to exclude you only opens the door to problems for yourself and other teams in the future.

#5: Follow-up and know your rights- remember that an individual with a disability who is denied public access is entitled to file a Civil Rights complaint with the ADA Complaint Line as well as the State Attorney Generals Office.  A trainer who is excluded from public access with their SDIT in a State whose laws specifically include SDITs in the wording of their law has the same rights.

Kudos to FSDS student trainer Seriani Jasper-Llumiquinga for her handling of a difficult situation after being ordered out of a restaurant with her SDIT.  Seriani understood the laws, protected her team and advocated for not only her team, but all teams.

Classroom News

Estrella Mountain Campus– after two years of hard work in training their dogs, this month our Estrella Mountain class will graduate.  This will be a bittersweet moment for them.  The joy of restoring the independence to someone in need is mixed with the sadness of having to turn over their dog, who they have loved and trained with.  Early in May the students will take a mock certification test with their dogs.  After that time, the student will mentor their recipients through their final program certification tests, making them official “certified teams”.

Paradise Valley Campus– our teams have been hard at work and are preparing to take their Canine Good Citizen and Public Access tests.  The basic obedience skills that they have taught their dogs will be put to the test.  We are so proud of the hard work that all of our students have put into the training, and are pleased that all of our current students will be promoted to year two students.  This month our PV students will also meet some of the PV recipients for the first time while present at Graduation 2014 to support our EM graduates.  Job well done- we are looking forward to wonderful things from this class in the coming year.

A special message to our student graduates

Congratulations…you now know how your parents will feel when you leave home for college!  They will not have you in their homes any longer and they will miss you.  However, you will always be their family, and they will look forward to vacations and visits.  You will see each other again.  Your parents have done their job well, and you will leave to go  out into the world and do what you have been taught to do.  The same can be said for your dogs.  You will not have them in your homes any longer and you will miss them, but your recipients have all indicated that they would like to keep in touch.  Your dogs will always be a part of your family, just as you have become a part of your recipients extended family.   There will be vacations and visits and you will see each other again.  You have done your job well, and now your dog will go out into the world to do what you have trained them to do.  Hold your head high and be proud of your accomplishments.

Many Thanks

Our sincere thanks to the Armed Forces Support Group of Sun City Grand for their recent donation of $7,721.  The monies donated will be used to support our mission of providing service dog to military veterans in need.

Graduation 2014

Graduation is just a couple of weeks away, and we remind all invited guests of a few things.

Tickets– if you have been granted a ticket and are not able to make it, please let us know.  We have a wait list of individuals who wish to attend and will be able to provide a seat to those folks if we are notified in advance.

Arrival timeplease arrive no later than 9:45 a.m. so that you may be seated.  The ceremony will begin promptly at 10 a.m.

Location:  Glendale Civic Center, 5750 W. Glenn Dr., Glendale AZ  85301

Dress:  Semi-formal.  Please no blue jeans or cut off shorts.