At Your Service This is Dr.
Bonita Bergin. She is the incredible woman who
originated the concept of the "service dog" in 1975 to
assist people with mobility limitations. Dr. Bergin then went on
Canine Companions for Independence,
the world's very first service dog program. This was followed by
her founding and becoming president of the
Assistance Dog Institute
(TADI) and Bergin
University of Canine Studies. TADI is providing college programming, and doing
research on training and the use of assistance dogs. They want to see just how much benefit these
provide for those persons who need them. They are doing this
how to match the personality of an assistance dog with
the personality of its human companion. This, of course,
provides the best team partnership.
the use of assistance dogs in Special Education classes
for kids with severe disabilities.
the use of therapy dogs for adults that are clinically
Studying what benefits emotionally disturbed kids & hospice
patients get via interaction with assistance
Service animal means any dog 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, 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 non-violent 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 persons 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 for the purposes of this definition.
This video was created for the
Canine Companions for Independence gala on October 27, 2007 to show what could not
be expressed with words. It features Service Dog Team, Cole
and Ilia Massie. Ilia is one handsome and smart dude, the
best offered through his Golden Retriever-Lab
breeding. In fact, he received ASPCA's 2008 Humane
Dog of the Year Award.
In LA, you will never see Cole without his furry
sidekick. In order to break away from being
wheelchair-dependent, Cole underwent surgery in July
2008 so he would be able to walk again without
assistance. Ilia travelled over 7,000 miles on six
planes to be by Cole's side for surgery. He
supported Cole through medical treatments and
physical therapy, and he encouraged the boy
throughout his road to recovery. These days, Cole is
able to use his whole foot, and Ilia is still by his
side, walking alongside him.
“He provides amazing incentive to Cole during therapies,
doctor’s appointments and procedures,” says Cole’s mom, Michelle
Massie. “He calms, inspires and motivates my son far better than
anyone ever has.” Or, as Cole sums it up: “I like when he lies
next to me in bed at night and we listen to Harry Potter on CD,
and that he helps to clean me when I’m in the bath by licking my
face and arms. He’s my furry brother and best friend—and a
serious bed hog!
This past July, three years after boy and dog
were paired by the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence,
Cole was faced with a difficult, but life-changing surgery. “He
had walked on his toes, and his feet were totally rolled in,”
says Massie. “The operation would allow him to use his feet and
free him of the wheelchair.” “Cole was frightened by the idea of
surgery at first,” remembers Massie. “We explained how much more
independent he’d be afterward, but he wasn’t buying it. Finally,
we told him that if he had this procedure, there was a very good
chance he’d be able to walk Ilia on his own—with no parents and
no walker.” After that, says Massie, “Cole would stroke the
dog’s head in bed each night and whisper, ‘I will walk you, Ilia.
I will walk you.’”
Did you know? Service dogs help people overcome the
limitations of their disabilities & the barriers that they
have in their environments. In 1995, a two-year study led by
Dr. Karen Allen, found that people with disabilities who had
service dogs actually scored higher for psychological
well-being, self-esteem, and for the amount of control they
could exert over their environment. Other studies tell us
that self-esteem, independence & social acceptance are all
improved. Research has shown that companion dogs can: Lower
your blood pressure; Help lower your stress; Improve your
motivation; Decrease your serum cholesterol; and, Lessen the
effects of loneliness.
Did you know? Goldens, according to Dr.
Bergin, have proven to be the best breed for doing service
work. That's because their calm disposition and strong body
strength (needed for pulling wheelchairs) are important
traits for having successful placements. However, it is very
expensive to train service dogs. Presently, it costs more
than $10,000 a dog. As service dogs are given to disabled
people free of charge, much fund-raising is necessary to get these canines to the people who need them. The
average waiting period to get an assistance dog is currently
five to ten years.
Did you know? Dr. Bergin has been looking at better
methods of producing service dogs. She has developed a more
cost-effective way of training the dogs. It involves getting
help from at-risk teenagers in juvenile detention
facilities. Only one professional instructor is needed,
working with only five students at a time. This allows for
careful, step-by-step instruction.
teach their Goldens obedience skills such as sit, down, and
stay from early puppyhood. There is also advanced training
given to older dogs in the program. This includes turning on light switches,
pulling wheelchairs, retrieving dropped items and handing
money over the counter to clerks. This is achieved by having
daily one-hour classes, which are part of the on-site school
curriculum. Here is a young Golden learning proper
wheelchair manners from a teenage trainer.
benefiting greatly from this program. The teenagers have
formed loving relationships with their dogs, based on trust
and motivation. They've learned the value of positive
reinforcement, consistency & praise, as these are the
techniques used in training these Golden guys. And, they
have gained pride and a sense of self-worth from their new
success. The disabled persons who receive these service dogs
have been amazed at how well-trained their new partners are
from training provided by at-risk teenagers.
Did you know?
There are also Assisted
Service (Social) Dogs and Facility Dogs. An Assisted Service
Dog placement is made with a disabled person who needs
someone else's assistance to work with the dog. This type of
dog is taught to perform interactive and practical tasks.
to read a wonderful article about using such dogs with
disabled children. A
Facility Dog placement is made with a trained professional
who uses the dog for pet therapy and interactions.
Dogs are often utilized to provide demonstrations. This is a
picture of Mary & Blake, with their TOP DOG's Sedona &
Savannah. Here, they are talking to a large classroom of
really fascinated kids. TOP DOG helps people understand lots
more about disabled people and their service dogs. They have
done hundreds of educational demonstrations for thousands of
children and adults in schools, nursing homes, hospitals,
and organizations in the Tucson area. The audience gets to see how a
service dog assists its human companion in the daily
activities we able-bodied take for granted. They show how
their service dogs help them get dressed, turn lights on &
off, bring a phone to them, and push or pull wheelchairs.
Here's Savannah again, with her companion Blake. He
uses crutches due to a spinal cord injury. But, they
both love the tennis courts. And, get this! Savannah
even has her own membership card. She must think, 'what a
dreamy life, to be surrounded by tennis balls!' Because as
we all know, tennis balls are one of the most favorite
things of our Goldens.
Did you know?
Assistance dogs are generally evaluated and trained by professionals
through formal organizations. However, many programs that provide
service dogs have long waiting lists, are out of state, or charge
too much money.
Through new resources (DVDs, online groups, etc.),
many in the disabled community are training their own dogs to help
in everyday tasks. There are a multitude of tasks that dogs can be trained to perform that qualify the dogs as service dogs under federal law.
In actuality, there are more owner-trained service dogs in the
United States than the service dogs from all of the programs
Christina, the President of Paws
to Freedom, a Service Dog Team education group, teaches those with disabilities to
positively train their own service dog.
Christina, who has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair, has a
2-year-old Golden named Maverick who she trained to be her
These videos feature a
9-month-old Maverick's turn and basket commands. The
turn command helps dogs out of messes with their
leashes, getting them to utilize their entire
bodies. The basket command, which teaches dogs to
use all four legs, when normally they're only aware
of having two, helps when they need to get in close quarters such as an airplane.
Christina used Barbara Handelman's
Train your own Assistance Dog: A Four-Part DVD Series as a reference.
Did you know?
Sometimes, Goldens who train to become
assistance dogs are released from the program due to medical
or temperament related issues. They are referred to as
Change of Career dogs. However, many of these pups go on to
work in another program such as pet therapy or search and
Did you know?
Many assistance dog organizations
choose the "best of the best" to become Breeder Dogs. These
dogs are selected only after temperament and medical
evaluations and are housed with volunteer Breeder
Caretakers. The Breeder Caretakers of the females are
responsible for whelping litters and caring for the puppies
during their first 8 weeks of life. And, the Breeder
Caretakers of the male dogs are required to have the dog
readily and promptly available for mating purposes.
TaleTell: Your own Stories of Assistance Goldens Meet some wonderful, hard-working assistance dogs,
demonstration dogs, and dogs in training.
And, if you
have an Assistance Golden tale to tell, just send it
along with photos to: back
Service Dogs &
the Law: Modifications in Policies,
Practices, or Procedures.
The Department of Justice has
stipulated revised 2010 ADA regulations implementing
Title II and Title III which includes the new
definition of a service animal.
Service animal means any dog 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. Other species of
animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals
for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service
animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or
tasks include, but are not limited to, 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
non-violent 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 persons 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
for the purposes of this definition.
***** § 36.302 Modifications in policies, practices, or procedures. (c) * * *
(2) Exceptions. A public accommodation may ask an individual with a disability
to remove a service animal from the premises if:
(i) The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take
effective action to control it; or
(ii) The animal is not housebroken.
(3) If an animal is properly excluded. If a public accommodation properly
excludes a service animal under § 36.302(c)(2), it shall give the individual
with a disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations
without having the service animal on the premises.
(4) Animal under handler's control. A service animal shall be under the control
of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether,
unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness,
leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would
interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the
handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
(5) Care or supervision. A public accommodation is not responsible for the care
or supervision of a service animal.
(6) Inquiries. A public accommodation shall not ask about the nature or extent
of a person's disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an
animal qualifies as a service animal. A public accommodation may ask if the
animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has
been trained to perform. A public accommodation shall not require documentation,
such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a
service animal. Generally, a public accommodation may not make these inquiries
about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to
do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is
observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a
person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an
individual with an observable mobility disability).
(7) Access to areas of a public accommodation. Individuals with disabilities
shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a
place of public accommodation where members of the public, program participants,
clients, customers, patrons, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.
(8) Surcharges. A public accommodation shall not ask or require an individual
with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are
required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not
applicable to people without pets. If a public accommodation normally charges
individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
(9) Miniature horses. (i) A public accommodation shall make reasonable
modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a
miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has
been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the
individual with a disability.
(ii) Assessment factors. In determining whether reasonable modifications in
policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a
specific facility, a public accommodation shall consider--
(A) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility
can accommodate these features;
(B) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
(C) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
(D) Whether the miniature horse's presence in a specific facility compromises
legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
(iii) Other requirements. Sections 36.302(c)(3) through (c)(8), which apply to
service animals, shall also apply to miniature horses.
COMMENTS FROM THE DOJ ON ITS DECISIONS Part 36: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations
and in Commercial Facilities - Species limitations. When the Department
originally issued its title III regulation in the early 1990s, the Department
did not define the parameters of acceptable animal species. At that time, few
anticipated the variety of animals that would be promoted as service animals in the years to come, which ranged from pigs and miniature
horses to snakes, iguanas, and parrots. The Department has followed this
particular issue closely, keeping current with the many unusual species of
animals represented to be service animals. Thus, the Department has decided to
refine further this aspect of the service animal definition in the final rule.
The Department received many comments from individuals and organizations
recommending species limitations. Several of these commenters asserted that
limiting the number of allowable species would help stop erosion of the public's
trust, which has resulted in reduced access for many individuals with
disabilities who use trained service animals that adhere to high behavioral
standards. Several commenters suggested that other species would be acceptable
if those animals could meet nationally recognized behavioral standards for
trained service dogs. Other commenters asserted that certain species of animals
(e.g., reptiles) cannot be trained to do work or perform tasks, so these animals
would not be covered.
In the NPRM, the Department used the term "common domestic animal" in the
service animal definition and excluded reptiles, rabbits, farm animals
(including horses, miniature horses, ponies, pigs, and goats), ferrets,
amphibians, and rodents from the service animal definition. 73 FR 34508, 34553
(June 17, 2008). However, the term "common domestic animal" is difficult to
define with precision due to the increase in the number of domesticated species.
Also, several State and local laws define a "domestic" animal as an animal that
is not wild.
The Department is compelled to take into account the practical considerations of
certain animals and to contemplate their suitability in a variety of public
contexts, such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, and performing arts
venues, as well as suitability for urban environments. The Department agrees
with commenters´ views that limiting the number and types of species recognized
as service animals will provide greater predictability for public accommodations
as well as added assurance of access for individuals with disabilities who use
dogs as service animals. As a consequence, the Department has decided to limit
this rule's coverage of service animals to dogs, which are the most common
service animals used by individuals with disabilities.
Wild animals, monkeys, and other nonhuman primates. Numerous business entities
endorsed a narrow definition of acceptable service animal species, and asserted
that there are certain animals (e.g., reptiles) that cannot be trained to do
work or perform tasks. Other commenters suggested that the Department should
identify excluded animals, such as birds and llamas, in the final rule. Although one commenter noted that wild animals bred in captivity
should be permitted to be service animals, the Department has decided to make
clear that all wild animals, whether born or bred in captivity or in the wild,
are eliminated from coverage as service animals. The Department believes that
this approach reduces risks to health or safety attendant with wild animals.
Some animals, such as certain nonhuman primates, including certain monkeys, pose
a direct threat; their behavior can be unpredictably aggressive and violent
without notice or provocation. The American Veterinary Medical Association
(AVMA) issued a position statement advising against the use of monkeys as
service animals, stating that "[t]he AVMA does not support the use of nonhuman
primates as assistance animals because of animal welfare concerns, and the
potential for serious injury and zoonotic [animal to human disease transmission]
risks." AVMA Position Statement, Nonhuman Primates as Assistance Animals (2005),
available at www.avma.org/issues/policy/nonhuman_primates.asp.
(last visited June 24, 2010).
An organization that trains capuchin monkeys to provide in-home services to
individuals with paraplegia and quadriplegia was in substantial agreement with
the AVMA's views but requested a limited recognition in the service animal
definition for the capuchin monkeys it trains to provide assistance for persons
with disabilities. The organization commented that its trained capuchin monkeys
undergo scrupulous veterinary examinations to ensure that the animals pose no
health risks, and are used by individuals with disabilities exclusively in their
homes. The organization acknowledged that the capuchin monkeys it trains are not
necessarily suitable for use in a place of public accommodation but noted that
the monkeys may need to be used in circumstances that implicate title III
coverage, e.g., in the event the handler had to leave home due to an emergency,
to visit a veterinarian, or for the initial delivery of the monkey to the
individual with a disability. The organization noted that several State and
local government entities have local zoning, licensing, health, and safety laws
that prohibit non-human primates, and that these prohibitions would prevent
individuals with disabilities from using these animals even in their homes.
The organization argued that including capuchin monkeys under the service animal
umbrella would make it easier for individuals with disabilities to obtain
reasonable modifications of State and local licensing, health, and safety laws
that would permit the use of these monkeys. The organization argued that this
limited modification to the service animal definition was warranted in view of
the services these monkeys perform, which enable many individuals with
paraplegia and quadriplegia to live and function with increased independence.
The Department has carefully considered the potential risks associated with the
use of nonhuman primates as service animals in places of public accommodation,
as well as the information provided to the Department about the significant
benefits that trained capuchin monkeys provide to certain individuals with
disabilities in residential settings. The Department has determined, however,
that nonhuman primates, including capuchin monkeys, will not be recognized as
service animals for purposes of this rule because of their potential for disease
transmission and unpredictable aggressive behavior. The Department believes that
these characteristics make nonhuman primates unsuitable for use as service
animals in the context of the wide variety of public settings subject to this
rule. As the organization advocating the inclusion of capuchin monkeys
acknowledges, capuchin monkeys are not suitable for use in public facilities.
The Department emphasizes that it has decided only that capuchin monkeys will
not be included in the definition of service animals for purposes of its
regulation implementing the ADA. This decision does not have any effect on the
extent to which public accommodations are required to allow the use of such
monkeys under other Federal statutes, like the FHAct or the Air Carrier Access
Act (ACAA). For example, a public accommodation that also is considered to be a
"dwelling" may be covered under both the ADA and the FHAct. While the ADA does
not require such a public accommodation to admit people with service monkeys,
the FHAct may. Under the FHAct an individual with a disability may have the
right to have an animal other than a dog in his or her home if the animal
qualifies as a "reasonable accommodation" that is necessary to afford the
individual equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, assuming that the use
of the animal does not pose a direct threat. In some cases, the right of an
individual to have an animal under the FHAct may conflict with State or local
laws that prohibit all individuals, with or without disabilities, from owning a
particular species. However, in this circumstance, an individual who wishes to
request a reasonable modification of the State or local law must do so under the
FHAct, not the ADA.
Having considered all of the comments about which species should qualify as
service animals under the ADA, the Department has determined the most reasonable
approach is to limit acceptable species to dogs.