5 responses to “Recommended Reading for 06 September 2010”

  1. Andrea

    The last article concerns me. The proposed new legislation specifically states that service animals may be used for “physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability” (from http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/297). The article’s implication that people with psych disabilities would no longer be able to use their service dogs is kind of sketchy at best, and pulling in veterans with PTSD like that smacks of using them for emotional impact in a distinctly false context, which leaves a bad taste at the back of my mouth. As the Service Dog Central link says, “The use of service dogs for psychiatric and neurological disabilities is explicitly protected under the ADA.” under the proposed new rules.

  2. Static Nonsense

    @Andrea But there are still restrictions that can pose to be a problem.

    Mentioned on the same page you linked:

    “1. Dogs whose sole function is “the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship” are not considered service dogs under the ADA.”

    Which excludes things such as providing a calming and supportive presence during anxiety attacks and flashbacks, or grounding during things like severely dissociative episodes. Unless they were to have another duty, this explicit restriction can and most likely will be used to deny access and accommodations for people with disabilities, even with the previously mentioned protection. More often than not, people ignore the protections. They see the restrictions and say no.

  3. Andrea

    @Static Nonsense Except that PTSD and anxiety are “psychiatric disabilities” and as long as the dog is trained to *do* something about flashbacks, panic attacks, &c, the service dog is still protected. The dog may get medication, or it may be trained to provide physical contact (through, say, putting its paws on the person or leaning into them), it’s still performing a positive action.

    And I think the sad fact is that access will be challenged/denied regardless of this new regulation; it happens now without the new rules in place.

    What the proposed new reg appears to do is clarify that the ADA does *NOT* apply to an Emotional Support Animal, which is basically an animal that is prescribed by a doc but *not* trained to do tasks but instead provides companionship, love, and focus. ESA access is limited and defined under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and the Air Carrier Access Act.

    of course, one of the bigger things the gov’t could do is actually establish and enforce standards for service animal behavior. I will wildly wave my hands here and guess that the new rules are a reaction to the people who unethically claim a “service animal” that does not fit the legal definition and also does not have enough training to be non-disruptive in public. But my cynical side says the new rules won’t actually change anything, because not enough people in the US are educated about access requirements for service animals and the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. Businesses and institutions already inclined to do the right thing will continue to do it and allow service animals, those that weren’t will just continue to deny access even though it’s illegal to do so.

  4. sso

    you can read the actual text of the amendment to the rule here:

    I think if I am understanding correctly, as long as the dog is trained to do some task related to the person’s disability – something other than simply being there – the dog is a service animal. So, for example, if the dog were trained to prevent a person in a dissociative state from wandering into traffic or some other unsafe environment, the dog would be a service dog. That still doesn’t help people who have non-dog animals trained to meet their needs, though.

  5. The Untoward Lady

    I agree, I’m really worried about the state of non-dog service animals. I would like to point out that miniature horses are also explicitly allowed if you look down into the section detailing the rules regarding animals. There is a caveat with horses, though, and that is a facility is allowed to make a determination regarding whether or not the horse’s “type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features” as well as an additional, explicit litmus on whether or not the horse compromises safety which seems to be above-and-beyond the litmus applied to dogs. I worry that the first litmus, in particular, will be used to unjustly exclude service horses.

    As for psychiatric service animals, other than the fact that a great deal of psych service animals are non-dog/horse the protections seem rather sound. The ADA amendments make it very clear what the litmus is: (1) is the animal required because of a disability? (2) what task does the animal do in service to their handler?

    I also find it interesting that now a business is allowed to ask what the task the animal does is but is not allowed to ask what the person’s disability is.