Possible Bill in the Making - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Possible Bill in the Making

I am with a group with a concern and some ideas. Impossible to correct at the Federal Level but possible on State Levels. The group is ADAP, Assistance Dog Advocacy Project and our concern is the selling (In major part via the Internet) but also through other means and on local levels of worthless Service Dog Certifications. This also encompasses worthless Registries, selling of Certificates and ID stating that a dog is a *Certified Service Dog* with no requirements of any substance to back up this certification. Legitimate organizations train to standards and when their dogs meet via testing and observation these standards they are certified through that organization.

Certification is not required per Federal Law nor are there any recognized Federal or State Certification Agencies. Certifications only proclaim that a dog has met the minimum requirements of the agency or trainer that worked with and/or tested a particular dog. Since certification is not a requirement per law and since there are no recognized Federal or State Certifications there are no certification standards approved or recognized by the Federal or State governments.

It is not possible to approach all 50 states at once nor even a large number. This endeavor will be one state at a time and worked through volunteers under various methods and styles. It is possible that with passage of a bill addressing this issue that a second state would be easier and so on. It is also possible that the first venture will hit a wall and never move further. Only time will tell. There is no guarantee that a bill will ever progress more then a step or two.

The first state that we are working on is FL. We are only in the infant stage and are still putting together a proposal. Through several meetings we do have a representative who is interested in learning more and is open to working with us. We are collecting information and putting together this information to pass on to the Representative. Some information has been presented but there is a lot more to do. From this info that we supply and the information that is gathered by the Representative's staff it is gone over and put into order to then be passed on to the House Bill Drafting Service. They put the proposal into a more acceptable form and give it a Bill Number and file it to be processed. I don't know how other states are but here in FL a bill must be read via publication and then is referred on its path by the Speaker of the House. It could take months or not at all to make it to this point.

The whole concept though exciting is also stressful and overwhelming at times.

I'm hoping to get feedback from here -- concerns or questions, maybe even suggestions -- as we further put together this proposal.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
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There are places on the Internet to buy legitimate vests, patches and ID tags. Owners can even order or purchase elsewhere or make their own. What we are trying to make against state law is people who charge to enter a dog on a worthless registry and/or to sell fake certs or ID that claim certification with nothing to back it up. These businesses or individuals should be held accountable to what they are certifying and how they determine such. Are they testing the dog through such means as a PAT or making sure the dog is of proper temperament? Are they willing to stand behind that cert if the SD team must appear in court?

We would like it to be through state statute unlawful- with a possible charge of fraud – to sell a certification or item stating *certified* without anything to back it up. Against state statute to sell a certification without a knowledge of the dog’s training and suitability to go into the public as a working dog. Certification is not required under Federal Law – so those that sell it should be held to some minimum standards.

One possible requirement that could be added to this statute would be that if an agency, organization, or individual certifies a dog as an Assistance/Service Dog then they should make available liability insurance on that dog for a minimum amount of time. Not possible? Why not? Some Therapy Dog organizations have a million dollar policy on dogs that they test and register (and not even certify) while these dogs are actively working in that capacity. Should not organizations that register or certify Service Dogs also do the same for a minimum period of time?

From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary Certify - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Synonym Discussion of CERTIFY

certify, attest, witness, vouch mean to testify to the truth or genuineness of something. certify usually applies to a written statement, especially one carrying a signature or seal <certified that the candidate had met all requirements>. attest applies to oral or written testimony usually from experts or witnesses <attested to the authenticity of the document>. witness applies to the subscribing of one’s own name to a document as evidence of its genuineness <witnessed the signing of the will>.vouch applies to one who testifies as a competent authority or a reliable person <willing to vouch for her integrity>

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 10:31 PM
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I can't find the "thumbs up" smiley or I'd post it. I think such a bill is long overdue and needs to be in existence to prevent people from passing their pets off as Service Dogs just so they can take them with them and/or don't have to pay hotel fees and the like.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2011, 01:22 AM
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I don't know whether I agree with the idea or not. I'm not totally clear on where this will leave OT dogs. It seems to me like it could potentially really put them at a disadvantage, since only organization trained dogs will then be able to be "certified". (Assuming that I understand what you're trying to do correctly.)
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2011, 05:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhoenixFiresky View Post
I don't know whether I agree with the idea or not. I'm not totally clear on where this will leave OT dogs. It seems to me like it could potentially really put them at a disadvantage, since only organization trained dogs will then be able to be "certified". (Assuming that I understand what you're trying to do correctly.)
Where will this leave OT dogs? Same place they are now - no certification. That is not a problem. Federal law does not require "certification".

Q. If I sell white with red spotted balls and you don't have one will it affect your life any?
A. No, why should it unless you are the type that is just jealous over things that others have and you don't?

Q. If the Federal Government passes a law that only people carrying a white with red spotted ball are allowed to enter their town's grocery stores or malls then would you not owning such a ball affect your life?
A. In that case not owning the proper ball would greatly affect your life and you would need to go and purchase such a ball.


Q. If the Federal Government passes a law that only Service Dogs that have been CERTIFIED are allowed to enter their town's grocery stores or malls then would you not having a certification on your SD affect your life?
A. If you are legally disabled and your SD was not a Certified Service Dog then it would greatly affect your life and you would need to pay someone to certify your dog.


Q. If certification was required of SDs and only owner/handlers of Program trained Service Dogs had Public Access Rights would that affect the owners of OT SDs?
A. If certification was required of SDs then owner/handlers of Program trained Service Dogs would be able to take their dogs into the community under the owner's Public Access Rights. As the Federal Law reads certification of a Service Dog is not required and an attempt to stop a SD team based on the lack of the SD's certification is a violation of the owner/handler's Civil Rights.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2011, 05:53 AM Thread Starter
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Now lets look at this certification selling a little differently.

As I have posted, Assistance or Service Dog organizations certify their dogs.

Q. Are these certifications based on Federal guidelines?
A. No.

Q. Since the answer is no then why not?
A. Because there are no Federal guidelines on certification for Assistance or Service Dogs.

Q. When the new owner/handler purchases a SD do they pay the training organization more for a dog that comes with a tag on which is printed *Certified* vrs. using the option of leaving the tag behind on the organization's desk?
A. No - at least I've not heard of this and if this the case I will really wonder about the organizations other policies and business practices.

Q. What quidelines or qualifications must a dog pass in order to be certified by its training organization?
A. The guidelines or qualifications are those chosen by the organization. A reputable organization will go over these qualifications with a prospective client during one of their initial meetings and will be done before there are any contracts signed or payment of a dog made.

Q. What guidelines or qualifications must an Internet business, business via ad placed in mag. or or other publication, or local business place on a dog before selling the owner/handler a certification packet?
A. Whatever guideline they so choose. Many only say send in or hand over your payment. Some may possibly require a note from your doctor stating that you need a SD and from your family vet that your dog does not seem to be aggressive.

Q. When one of these Internet, mail, or even local organization sell a certification packet must they evaluate the dog?
A. No. Many especially those dealing over the Internet or via publication never lay eyes on the dog. Some are not even located in the U.S.

Q. If the owner/handler is even required to go to court about their SD is the certification of the dog going to be of any use in any decisions the court makes.
A. Certifications from training agencies or individuals who have tested and made an evaluation of a particular dog will be part of the court's decision. This certification is more then a tag or a piece of paper that hangs on the owner's wall. It is a document that is backed up by records showing ongoing evaluations of the dog's health and time spent training. It will show that the dog met the minimum required standards of that particular agency over a period of time from Point A to Point B.

Certification from a source via the Internet or publication or by a local organization or individual on a dog not personally evaluated and tested by that entity shows that the owner had access to a certain amount of funds, was able to get these funds to the organization, and that the owner/handler now has a piece of plastic to hand on their dog's collar or harness, maybe some cute little decorative patches to attach to their dog's vest, and probably a piece of paper that they can frame and put on their wall.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2011, 06:08 AM Thread Starter
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We have gone over "Certification" now how about "Registration"?

One definition of the word registration is
an entry in a register
Registration - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

A definition of the term legal registration is
To record, or enter precisely in a designated place, certain information in the public records as is mandated by statute. A book of public records.
register legal definition of register. register synonyms by the Free Online Law Dictionary.

If a Program SD comes with the term Registered in the contract there is a place where the court can view or gather records. Do they have information more then the dog's name and the owner's name on their listing? Under what circumstances can John Q. Public view this information? Can they sell this information to other agencies? Can they sell this information to other businesses?

What if an Internet Business sells registration what does that mean? Can you go to their office and view your dog's name somewhere? What is listed about the dog in their records? Can they now use your personal information and sell that to others on a vast mailing list? If this business is located in another country what can you do to ensure the security of your bank information from any check that you sent to them or credit card info? Does this registry give you any additional benefits such as submitting info to a court upon your request? How valuable is this information to you?

Now -- is there anywhere the Federal Government states registration is required?

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-02-2011, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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More interesting reading about a well-known registry:

Quote from Blog of Al Britton
Cesar?s Way Wrong About Service Dogs: Part 4 – Registries | Al Brittain

Let’s be serious – if someone who doesn’t know better (which is pretty much everybody) sees a dog with that stuff, do you have any doubt that they think it’s something official that says the dog is a service dog? And they aren’t gonna be looking for all that legalese and disclaimers on a web page – all they know is what they see.

Happens all the time. I can’t tell you how many news stories or blog posts I see that go something like this: “Even though Lassie had on her vest and service dog ID, she and Billy weren’t allowed in the store.” as if that had any legal standing and then go on to rant about how that’s a violation of the ADA.

The subject is registry though the example of the celeb here shows a concerning and ongoing trend of people not understanding what a SD is or else thinking for some reason they don't fit into the required regulations that others do.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-03-2011, 07:32 AM
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It seems like the arguement that banning the sham "certification/registry" groups would put the OT SDs in better standing because it would reinforce that certification is not a requirement. I don't think the owner of a well trained dog should be required to pay someone else for work that the owner did without getting anything that is necessary (or at least an actual evaluation from a recognized organization). I also don't think someone should pay the money to get useless documents when they were lead to believe that they change the legal status of the dog.

It would also be good to get these folks out of the market in case the growing trend of lying about a dog's status continues because if regulation of SDs becomes necessary I don't think their practices would be a good thing to put into future policies.

I would like to be as good as my dogs think I am.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-03-2011, 01:04 PM
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I wonder if it would be a good first step to see about creating some sort of basic public access test that all dogs would need to pass in order to be considered Service Dogs. If such a test could be offered across the country the way that TDI-type tests are offered across the country, for a small fee that covers whatever expenses there may be (like for printing certificate or card stating the dog passed), it would at least establish a baseline for good temperament and behavior standards.

ADI has a great public access "template" posted to their website and they have affiliates in pretty much every state as far as I can tell. Maybe they could set up an ADI access test people may take?

I don't know. It's a thought.

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=^^= Finn, Ratchet & Ollie

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