Service Dog Questions/Concerns - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Service Dog Questions/Concerns

A friend of mine is legally (though not completely) blind. She has also been struggling with depression lately. Her therapist has recommended she get a service dog, both to make her life easier and as a sort of treatment for her depression. Having something that cares for her/depends on her, etc.

Now, my friend likes this idea, but has some questions/concerns, which I brought here in hopes of finding answers from those that are far better informed than I.

1) She is afraid of big dogs that jump on her. This one I assumed was probably more related to the training the dog received, but I figured I'd throw it out there anyhow.

2) She doesn't really know where to start in order to get a service dog. How does one get on this path?

3) She lives in Houston. Are there special allowances for service dogs in apartments/rental housing or would she lose her apartment? I know there are special allowances for stores, restaurants, schools, etc., but I don't know about housing.

Thank you in advance...though I'll probably have more questions in the future.

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 05:41 PM
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Theresa can answer your questions and I am in Beaumont not that far from her if I can help. Please do research. Not everyone out there is legit
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 06:46 PM
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First I would like you to keep Ladylaw's offer to assist as a local resource in mind.

Now as to "A friend of mine is legally (though not completely) blind."
If your friend meets the criteria of working with a reputable organization she may be interested in a Guide Dog which are normally Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Smooth Coat Collies and German Shepherds or a cross of Labrador/Golden Retriever.

A reputable organization will need to know that:
1) She falls within their perimeter of less than 20/200 vision in the best eye with the use of corrective lenses and/or a less than 20 degree field of vision.
2) She will also have to have successfully completed Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training with the long cane.

You also said, "She is afraid of big dogs that jump on her. " This would not be a problem with a well-trained Guide Dog as they are first raised with organization supervised Puppy Raisers for a year or more and then worked under professional Guide Dog Trainers for approx. 4-6 months before the new handler is introduced to their prospective team member.

If her depression is caused by her lack of vision then she may be helped by a Guide Dog but that would have to be determined by herself, her therapist, and the Guide Dog organization intake staff.

Now if her depression is more severe (which would be determined by the professionals involved with her care) then it is possible that either an Emotional Support Dog (ESD) or a Trained Companion Dog may be of help. Just remember that those two are not Service Dogs and the owner does not have the rights that a handler of a Guide or Service Dog has.

You also posted, "as a sort of treatment for her depression. Having something that cares for her/depends on her, etc." This in of itself would not qualify her for a Service Dog as the Dept. of Justice has stated in their definition of a Service Dog that, "the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” Again in this case an Emotional Support Dog or a Trained Companion Dog - on what you have posted - may be a good choice for her to look into.

Dept. of Justice Definition of a Service Dog
https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...ce-animal.html

A recent thread on Trained Companion Dogs
https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...anion-dog.html

And a recent thread on Emotional Support Dogs
https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...pport-dog.html

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 #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladylaw203 View Post
... Please do research. Not everyone out there is legit
A very important piece of advice.

And why I also stress *reputable* when looking for a Guide Dog or a Service Dog organization.

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 #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ILGHAUS View Post
First I would like you to keep Ladylaw's offer to assist as a local resource in mind.

Now as to "A friend of mine is legally (though not completely) blind."
If your friend meets the criteria of working with a reputable organization she may be interested in a Guide Dog which are normally Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Smooth Coat Collies and German Shepherds or a cross of Labrador/Golden Retriever.

A reputable organization will need to know that:
1) She falls within their perimeter of less than 20/200 vision in the best eye with the use of corrective lenses and/or a less than 20 degree field of vision.
2) She will also have to have successfully completed Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training with the long cane.
I will definitely do that.

And she isn't afraid of dogs in general. Her family has had both German Shepherds and Golden Retreivers in the past, and only the jumping scares her.

The depression is largely as a result of her blindness and the struggles she has had living on her own (she finally moved out of her parents' house last year) as a non-sighted person. She is completely blind in one eye and has only very faint vision in the other, which is not improved by corrective lenses as her condition is caused by a nerve problem and not the eyes themselves. She had training with the long cane at TSBVI a few years ago.

The therapeutic benefits of the dog are sort of coincidental. She wants an actual service dog, and her therapist believes that in addition to improving her ease in getting around day to day, she will benefit emotionally just from having a dog around. So...much as the Companion/ESD suggestion is appreciated, that isn't what she is looking for.

I really appreciate the input/advice and welcome any more you may have. I have absolutely no experience in this area, but want to help her out as much as I can.

My menagerie:

Gable: Black and Red GSD: 03/02/2012 -08/06/2018
Suki: Russian Blue: 03/02/2013 -
Sully: Tri-Color Collie: 04/22/2016 -
Magnus: GSD Mix: 07/23/2016 -
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Anitsisqua View Post
I will definitely do that.

And she isn't afraid of dogs in general. Her family has had both German Shepherds and Golden Retreivers in the past, and only the jumping scares her.

The depression is largely as a result of her blindness and the struggles she has had living on her own (she finally moved out of her parents' house last year) as a non-sighted person. She is completely blind in one eye and has only very faint vision in the other, which is not improved by corrective lenses as her condition is caused by a nerve problem and not the eyes themselves. She had training with the long cane at TSBVI a few years ago.

Then I would suggest that she check into a Guide Dog from one of the organizations from around the country. Some suggestions are:

Pilot Dogs, Inc. (OH) Breeds: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Vizslas, German Shepherds, and the Standard Poodles.
https://sites.google.com/site/pilotdogs/faq


Southeastern Guide Dogs (FL) Breeds: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Labrador/Golden Crosses.
Southeastern Guide Dogs ?


The Seeing Eye, Inc. (NJ) Breeds: German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador/Golden crosses and some Boxers.
The oldest existing guide dog school in the world | The Seeing Eye, Inc.


Leader Dogs for the Blind (MI) Breeds: German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and some crosses.
Leader Dogs for the Blind: About Us


Guiding Eyes for the Blind (NY) Breeds: German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.
https://www.guidingeyes.org/about-us/


Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Inc. (CT) Breeds: German Shepherds
http://www.fidelco.org/index.html


Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind (NY) Northeastern US and some Southeastern states Breeds: German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Smooth Coat Collies and Standard Poodles.
Freedom Guide Dogs

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 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 10:32 AM
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I was a puppy raiser for The Seeing Eye and I can assure you that jumping will not be a problem. It was one of the first things we were required to work on with the puppies. The Seeing Eye has very strict rules for the dogs that pass their program and jumping would definitely warrant a dog being dropped from the program.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Anitsisqua View Post
3) She lives in Houston. Are there special allowances for service dogs in apartments/rental housing or would she lose her apartment? I know there are special allowances for stores, restaurants, schools, etc., but I don't know about housing.
TJ - since this woman would be setting a true Service Dog, how will that affect her housing? Are there laws that say EVERY place must accept Service Dogs living with their owners?
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 03:48 PM
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TJ - since this woman would be setting a true Service Dog, how will that affect her housing? Are there laws that say EVERY place must accept Service Dogs living with their owners?

Housing is a very complicated area. There are several Federal laws and to know which one someone falls under you need to know what type of housing they are in. Such as number of units, does landlord live in one of the units, or does any part of the payments come from a state or federal source.

The law that most fall under is The Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). Under this law the landlord may require documentation that the tenant is disabled and/or that the dog has been trained to mitigate the handler's legal disability. If all falls into place then the handler can request Reasonable Accommodation which basically means that the landlord can accommodate allowing the dog in a unit without "undue burden or fundamental alteration." One example of an undue burden would be that because of breed of dog the landlord would face a block in obtaining insurance. Another example would be if the tenant is unable to properly maintain the dog such as unable to clean up a potty area for the dog and is unable or unwilling to secure the services of someone to do that for them thereby becoming a "fundamental alteration" to the rights of other tenants.

The best advice would be for the individual to first learn which law their rental is under and then approach management via letter for a Reasonable Accommodation. In that letter the person needs to request accommodation under law XXXX. They need to state that they are disabled and that the dog qualifies as a trained Guide/Service Dog under that law. They should then ask for a written answer within a certain reasonable time frame such as 10 business days. Each law has in place a system to handle complaints if necessary.

Besides the Federal Laws, an individual should also look into their state's current statutes and see if housing is addressed. Some states only have laws that cover certain types of Service Dogs or if the dog comes from an approved training facility. Here it would be a good idea to contact the state's Attorney General's Office for any verification to the current state laws.

For the state of Texas:

Texas.gov | The Official Website of the State of Texas

https://www.oag.state.tx.us/


Office of the Texas State Attorney General

By mail:
PO Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548

By phone: (800) 252-8011 or (512) 475-4413

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 #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 03:54 PM
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As a sticky for this section I have a thread on HUD with a link to read more about this Federal Agency's Regulatory Law.

https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...-part-5-a.html


Note: even though the document is titled
Pet Ownership for the Elderly and Persons With Disabilities; Final Rule
it also addresses Service Dogs.

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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Last edited by ILGHAUS; 02-14-2013 at 03:57 PM.
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