What is a service dog? Service dogs are guide and assistance animals used by humans. They are trained to assist people with disabilities. The definition of a service dog is: A dog that aids in the performance of a human task. In other words, service animals are trained animals that are used to assist people with disabilities such as the blind, the deaf, and the physically handicapped.
Service Dog Breeds and Characteristics
What are the types of tasks a service dog can perform? Service animals are able to detect sounds that are below normal levels. They are also trained to locate lost children, find animals lost at sea or under a rock, flush out mines and trip and fall hazards, and search for trapped hunters. In addition, they may be trained to flush toxins from sewer systems and open jammed sewers.
How do local governments hire service animals? Every local government that covers a population within the state limits needs to designate an animal management entity. This entity may consist of one or more local municipalities, an individual humane society, an individual owner, or a private firm that contracts with the municipality to conduct evaluations of potential candidates. Candidates wishing to become service animals must be evaluated by the governing body of the local government. Some local governments require that the potential candidate for service be certified by an organization recognized by the state, such as the National Certification Board for Service Animals.
Why do local governments regulate service-dog operations? To ensure that service-dogs are well behaved and are well trained, local governments place restrictions on public facilities that house these animals. The restrictions vary by jurisdiction. In some areas, a service animal can be kept on a leash while in public places. In other areas, service-dogs are not permitted on most public places or may be permitted on leashes only.
What are the responsibilities of landlords? Landlords generally prohibit service animals on their premises. They generally require that the potential owner show proof that he or she is capable of, and accepted to perform tasks associated with, such as providing assistance with mobility issues. In some cases, if the service animal is too large or has a unique personality, the landlord may require the potential owner to undergo temperament training.
What about breed restrictions? All cities within the state of Florida require that service animals be of a certain size. Typically, this size requirement covers large dogs, and those with any degree of behavioral problems. The city requires that the size of the dog, as well as the personality be considered when making the decision.
What about support groups? Support groups for people with disabilities can provide information and advice regarding the proper care of support animals. In some communities, support groups for people with service dogs may even provide training or financial assistance to help cover necessary expenses. There are also organizations dedicated to helping people who have disabilities and need companionship around the home find suitable homes for their support animals. If you belong to one of these organizations, your support group may be able to suggest a local support group in your area.
What are the best service dog breeds? Experts do not agree on which dog breeds are the most appropriate. However, they do note that there are several breeds that present little to no health risks and are very gentle, sweet, and loving. However, some of these dog breeds are known to be aggressive and have lower tolerance levels for others and unfamiliar people. They are typically used as guide animals and for search and rescue operations.