Which Service Dog Registry Is Legit?

Finding a legitimate service dog registry can be frustrating, especially when it isn’t necessary. There are a few myths behind service dogs that desperately need to be cleared up.

Which service dog registry is legit? The truth is, under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a service dog does NOT need to be registered as such, but may need to be registered under local laws that apply to ALL dogs. However, a service dog must be trained to perform a task related to a person’s disability.

Service dogs are extraordinary animals, but there is no official way to designate them while they are working.

Despite hear-say and rumors about needing specific registration, identification cards, and doggy apparel, there is no law stating that service dogs need to be on any list or accompanied by any sort of certification.

In addition, there are some false rumors about which disabilities qualify for the use of a service dog. Unfortunately, many internet “experts” who magically turn rumor into fact are to blame for most of these misconceptions. Having a pet dog is not the same as having a service dog, and there is a very bold line between the two.

How To Spot Fake Service Dog Registrations

Basically, every service dog registry website is fraudulent because the identification materials they provide are all not required by law.

However, you can still order service dog apparel through these websites, if you prefer that your service dog be labeled as such, whether it’s to avoid questions or to ensure that your dog not be pet by strangers. Some people choose to have these things because it makes their lives (and their service dog’s lives) easier.

If a website seems like it provides all the legal documentation and certification, then it’s a very well-put-together scam. Since the ADA does not require any kind of identification, spending money on identification that you think you must have for your service dog is unnecessary. You may purchase these items by choice, but no business is allowed to request them.

Even websites with official sounding names and URLs are fake. These websites exist to make money from those who are swindled into believing that they must somehow register or certify their service dog. Watch out for the convincing ones; they may seem official, but it’s usually just a ploy. Don’t waste your $200 on an official looking kit that you don’t need!

Another way that these registration websites are scams is that they offer commonly seen “Service Dog” accessories that make any dog seem like a service dog, even when it is not. People have been known to take advantage of this; those who just want to be able to take their dogs anywhere with them are especially guilty of abusing these fake services.

It is against the law to claim that your pet dog is a service dog when it is not, but really, these laws are difficult to enforce due to the complexity of the laws protecting the disabled from having to be harassed.

Requirements for Service Dogs

If a business or landlord has ever asked you for documentation regarding your service dog, it is likely that they aren’t aware of the stipulations of service dog accessibility. According to the ADA, a service dog is essentially any dog that performs a specific task that is essential to the health or well-being of a handler with a disability.

The service dog must be trained in this field, either by a professional or by the handler. A service dog is not considered to be a pet, but a tool to aid the handler perform everyday tasks without the risk of harm. These disabilities constitute the necessity of the service dog and exclude “emotional support” animals.

What About Emotional Support Animals?

Although many people assume that an “emotional support” animal can be any animal that provides emotional support, the ADA does not recognize the term and does not recognize animals that are identified as such. So, if you do not have a professionally diagnosed psychological disability that constitutes the use of a service dog, leave your pet at home.

Furthermore, service dogs are the only animals qualified to perform tasks for persons with disabilities. For more information about the specifications for service dogs, visit the ADA website here. In some special instances where a dog is not physically sufficient to aid a person with a disability, miniature horses are occasionally substituted.

Remember that no business or organization, public or private, may ask about the disability that a person with a service dog has been diagnosed with. Not only is it against the regulations, but it is an invasion of the handler’s privacy and may be refused by anyone requiring a service dog.

If you believe that you need a service dog, consult a doctor or medical professional to determine the need for one. Some emotional disabilities are qualifying, so if you cannot manage without the support of your dog, it’s important to receive an official diagnosis and to train your dog to perform tasks that you will require.

Purpose of Service Dogs

While service dog registrations may be fake, the necessity for service dogs themselves is not. There are many disabilities that require the use of a service dog, whether it be to navigate for the blind or dial 911 for the paralyzed. In all aspects of their lives, service dogs are working animals that help improve the quality of life of many people with disabilities.

So, what disabilities DO qualify for the use of service dogs? There is a more comprehensive resource for the eligible disabilities for service dogs here, or you can consult a medical professional for more information.

Here’s a short list of the most common disabilities that can utilize service dogs:

  • Diabetes
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Epilepsy
  • Paralysis
  • Severe Allergies
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Depression/Anxiety/Bipolar Disorders
  • Blindness
  • Deafness

Keep in mind that this list is not complete and does not include all of the qualifying disabilities; however, these are the most common conditions under which service dogs may be facilitated. It’s easy to see how service dogs can assist people with any of these and other disabilities and may even save a handler’s life frequently.

It is important to understand that a service dog is a lifeline for many, and so their daily dependency on these dogs is crucial. It is not usually appropriate to pet someone’s service dog without their permission, as this may distract the dog from its assigned purpose and pull its attention away from something important regarding its handler.

Local Laws and Service Dogs

A common inquiry regarding service dogs is whether or not local laws, usually regarding vaccinations and city registration, apply. When applicable, such as under city or state regulation, service dogs must follow the same laws as any other dogs. This means that if your city requires dogs to be vaccinated, you must vaccinate your service dog.

Similarly, although your service dog does NOT need to be registered as a service dog (except in certain housing or city regulation situations), your city or state may require that all dogs be registered. In this case, you must still follow the same rules as any other dog owner and register your dog.

If there is a special circumstance in which you are required to list your dog as service dog, such as when you check into a hotel or move into a new apartment, you should comply in order to avoid fees. However, if staff asks you to provide documentation or certified identification for your service dog, you may refuse, as this is not necessary under ADA law.

Do You Have to Provide Documentation for Your Service Dog?

In some cases, it may be preferable for you to identify your service dog as such, especially in places where you may not normally be able to take a pet dog. In this case, simply stating that your service dog is your service dog is sufficient. Unfortunately, this law has been badly abused by pet lovers, so some doubt may be expected at first.

Service dogs must be allowed to accompany a handler in any place where the public is allowed to go. This means that your service dog can go with you into a restaurant, grocery store, or hospital; however, don’t expect to take the service dog into a restaurant kitchen or an operating room at a hospital. This can compromise sanitary measures.

If someone asks you if your dog is a service dog, tell the truth; while it is not legal for staff to request information about your specific disability and documentation for your dog, some will. If staff requests that you provide proof of your service dog’s duties, it’s best just to tell them that you are not legally obligated to do so and ask to speak to management to resolve the issue.

If you still have additional questions or specific circumstances that don’t apply to normal measures, it’s a good idea to consult the ADA website (www.ada.gov) or check the local laws for service dog requirements. Many cities and states vary, so taking all the correct measures is important for the accessibility of service dogs.