PSD or Emotional Support Dog
I saw a person in Walmart yesterday with a black lab. Its vest read
"PTSD Service dog". From what I just read by the OP, this is legal. I originally thought dogs that helped with PTSD were emotional support dogs. Any input?
~ I moved this post to start a new thread on subject matter.
Depends on what the dog does for the person with PTSD. Some people who suffer from PTSD suffer from debilitating anxiety attacks, and the dog can retrieve them medication, support them mobility-wise, etc. It's a gray area, for sure, but some service dogs for PTSD perform tasks that make that person's life livable.
A service dog is required to have actual tasks that they can perform for the person should the person need assistance, thus the name "service" or "assistance" dog. An emotional support dog is simply there as a buddy, emotional support.
Emotional support dogs can have housing rights that regular pet dogs don't, but they do not have public access rights. Many people confuse the two and consider an emotional support dog a service dog, and think it has rights. If it's never challenged by the public/store, etc then they'll likely keep taking the dog into public. While it is not legal to ask a person what their disability is (this person you saw chose to display it, but that is not required or even the norm IME), a store can ask what tasks the dog is trained to perform that makes it a service dog. Most stores will not say a word for fear of legal backlash for saying/asking the wrong thing.
The dog you saw may have just been an emotional support dog with fancy patches (which are not required, nor is any outward ID actually) or it may have actually be a service dog and did tasks to calm the handler should the person start having a panic attack, flashbacks, etc.
The ADA also defines service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.
If these two things match, then it is a legal Service Dog in reference to your question.
FWIW, I am in the process of training my GSD (Samson) to be my PTSD service dog. The things a PTSD service dog does varies from team to team. Mine helps me with anxiety, blocks in situations that cause me particular stress (ie crowds, close quarters, people getting too close, or just keeping alert so maybe I can feel as if I don't have to).
I would hope a dog for PTSD would be considered a service dog, from what I've learned about the symptoms of PTSD. A boyfriend I had when I very young was in the army. He would get suddenly violent and had other issues. Now that I''m older I could see he was showing signs of this. I recently heard a veteran who is enrolled in college say he needs to sit in a certain place in the classroom to see that everything is clear and safe and the instructor also needs to know that he may need to leave suddenly. My husband who was on an aircraft carrier in close quarters cannot be in crowds or stand in lines,, for years, the slightest noise at night would having him jumping out of bed in reaction to the planes landing on the carrier and the crew would have to get up instantly to do their duties.
"A pet or support animal may be able to discern that the individual is in
distress, but it is what the animal is trained to do in response to this
awareness that distinguishes a service animal from an observant pet or
"Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include
reminding individuals to take medicine, providing safety checks or room
searches for individuals with PTSD, interrupting self-mutilation, and
removing disoriented individuals from dangerous situations."
" ... the work or tasks performed by the service animal must be related
directly to the individual's disability ..."
[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 48 (Friday, March 11, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[FR Doc No: 2011-5581]
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
28 CFR Part 36
[CRT Docket No. 106; AG Order No. 3181-2010]
Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public
Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities; Corrections
AGENCY: Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
ACTION: Final rule; correction.
ILGHAUS- thank you for CLEAR examples of the difference between emotional support animals and PSTD service dogs. That really helped me understand the difference.
I agree with the consensus here. This can be a grey area but the key word here is TRAINED. The dog must be trained to respond and or perform task/s to directly mitigate the disability. Just the presence of the dog to "comfort" does not qualify the dog as a service dog from my understanding of this rule.
While PTSD dogs have been the focus of some debate as the legitimacy of a PTSD dog, I feel if it actually does something in a trained capacity to mitigate the disability besides just being there I feel the dog would in fact qualify as a service dog.
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