SeroTalk Podcast 218: I Know A Secret

Listen to SeroTalk Podcast 218: I Know A Secret

Everyone on the podcast team survived Seroween … erm … Halloween with plenty of candy to go around. Jamie, Ricky and Joe take a look at this week’s news, mailbag gets a makeover, and Jamie visits with award-winning contemporary Christian artist Ginny Owens about her new project “I Know A Secret”. You can listen to “No Borders,” the first single from her album and pre-order the entire project on Amazon or iTunes. Visit Ginny’s Website to learn more about what she is up to.

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From Jenine Stanley:

You all know I couldn’t stay silent on this one so let me explain the various legally allowable types of animals in public and then the reality.

Under federal law, specifically the ADA, Fair Housing Act, Air Carrier Access Act and Rehabilitation Act, there are two categories of animal that someone may be accompanied by and for which that person may have access rights.

“Service animals”, as of March 2011, are classified as dogs only with some exceptions for miniature horses. People who partner with service animals have access rights under all of the above laws. A service animal must, and this is the key, do work or perform tasks to be considered as such. An animal that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you pet it doesn’t perform a task. Also, tasks and work must be reliable and able to be duplicated.

Emotional Support Animals can be of just about any species or size, save for air travel where there are restrictions on species. The animal generally has no trained tasks but must be house broken and must conform to standard behavior expected of pets in public places.

The only laws that specifically mention rights for people with Emotional Support animals are the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Both of these laws allow people to bring their Emotional Support animals with them on planes and in housing situations. Under both cases, the animal must be prescribed by a mental health professional. This documentation must be presented in very specific ways and the team does not have public access rights.

Where this all gets slippery is when dogs do work such as seizure detection or some of the tasks associated with psychiatric disabilities. If they do tasks that can be repeated and controlled, then they are service animals. If it’s just a random thing the dog, in most cases, does, then it’s not a service animal.

One example in an article I read was of a family who had a lovely and well behaved German Shepherd who helped keep the kids together on family walks. They wanted to take the dog with them into other public spaces so got a service dog vest and called her a service dog. No one in the family had a disability per say. That family admitted to their fraud, sadly most don’t.

I could obviously go on and on about this but technically there’s no difference in access rights between the guide dog and the dog trained to alert someone to low blood sugar or perform a task related to PTSD such as focused grounding when the dog will actively touch or stop the person so he can refocus and shift attention from the distraction to the dog.

The final two thing I do want to note are:

  1. With great rights come great responsibilities. This point is all too often ignored by many people, fraudulent or not. If my experienced guide dog is out of control in a public place, I can be asked to leave just the same as if the pocket Poodle yapping at the waitress yet being touted as a service dog, can be removed.

  2. Aggression or personal defense has no place in service or emotional support animal work or presence. A lot of people want a dog for such protection and think a little growl is OK now and then. Granted, dogs in and of themselves are deterrents in many cases but specific aggressive behaviors are just not allowed under any access law.

Hope that helps sort of clear things up. the truly frustrating part is that we as guide dog handlers have had to behave and toe the line for nearly 90 years now while all manner of service dog comes along and people just assume they have rights with little responsibilities included. It really drives a rift between disability groups.
Jenine Stanley

Blog comment from Dominique

Alan Wheeler well said. That makes lots of since. Prioritize as they say… First, think of saving yourself first, then fun apps after. Otherwise, you’d not be here to play said fun games if you didn’t.


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One Response to SeroTalk Podcast 218: I Know A Secret

  1. Steven Whiteker says:

    Thanks again for a wonderful podcast! I agree that when you have a guide dog or a service dog, you need to comply with all laws and also be a responsible person

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