Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What to Know When Flying with an Emotional Support Dog

Traveling by air can be a stressful event. It’s a time when you would certainly want the comfort provided by your emotional support dog. However, bringing your animal on board the plane with you -- even if he provides you with critical emotional support -- is not a simple process. Many airlines have certain regulations in place that require you to take necessary steps before your emotional support dog can accommodate you in the cabin.

If you have questions such as, “are emotional support dog vests required on flights?” and “do I need a note from my doctor?” we will answer them here.

Emotional Support Dog Vests: Are They Needed to Fly?

Emotional support dog vests operate similarly to the way that service dog vests do -- they show other passengers that your dog is helping you and is not a pet. However, due to the important federal laws stating that emotional support dogs are distinctly different from service dogs, you may encounter some difficulty when trying to board a plane with one, vest or no vest.

Currently, the Air Carrier Access Act allows major airlines to regulate who can bring an animal on an airplane. They must determine if an animal is eligible via 5 steps:

     Get verbal assurance
     Look for an emotional support dog vest or other physical indicator
     Get documentation (if verbal assurance is not enough)
     Request documentation (for emotional support and psychiatric dogs specifically)
     Watch the animal’s behavior

As with ADA law, staff may not inquire about a passenger’s disability. Therefore, emotional support dog vests are not required, but having one can be helpful in distinguishing your animal from a pet someone might try to fraudulently bring on board.

Is Documentation Required to Fly with an Emotional Support Dog?

Under normal circumstances, documentation is not required to travel in public with an emotional support dog. However, many major airlines may ask for verified documentation from a licensed physician. The document is usually dated within one year of your flight and details the following:

     Your mental or physical disorder
     Your need for an emotional or psychiatric animal to accommodate you while you fly
     That you are under the care of a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor
     The date and type of health professional/medical license, as well as the state it was obtained

Please note: some airlines require your documentation to be verified 48 hours before your flight. Be sure to give yourself and your physician enough time to get your documents in order.

Flying with an emotional support dog is possible for anyone, provided they follow the airlines’ rules. Airlines put strict regulations in place to ensure that only the passengers who truly need their service or emotional support animals can have them close by while traveling. So before you embark on your flight, be sure to outfit your dog with an emotional support dog vest and have the right documentation in order to support your legitimate claim.

Monday, August 28, 2017

How to Customize Your Service Dog Vest

How to Customize Your Service Dog Vest

There's a service dog vest for every type of service dog, whatever its size or breed. Although each vest serves as a visual indication that the dog is a service dog, not every handler has the same needs, and not every service dog provides the same function. However, with thoughtful customization, a service dog vest can meet the handler’s needs.

Finding the Perfect Fit

Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes, meaning they must accommodate a wide range of service dog vest sizes. Most vests can be divided into large or small sizes with the following requirements:

     Large - Over 30 lbs. and over 30” girth
     Small - Under 30 lbs. and under 30” girth

Each service dog vest has an adjustable girth and chest strap that secures the vest to the dog. Girth strap extenders can be added for growing service dogs to avoid causing the animal discomfort due to a too-tight vest.

The material of the vest itself may be chosen by the handler. A padded service dog vest is made with soft yet high quality woven cotton fabric for comfort, while a mesh vest offers breath-ability for warmer weather. Colors may vary as well from red, blue, orange, raspberry, or a camouflage pattern.

Conveying the Right Message

You can also customize what you want a service dog vest to say. Messages can explicitly state “Service Dog” on the vest, as well as help identify what the service dog is trained to do. This is accomplished with sewn-on patches that say:

     Service Dog
     Medical Alert Dog
     Seizure Alert Dog
     Guide Dog
     Hearing Dog
     Diabetic Alert Dog

Service dog vests can have multiple patches to provide the public with a more complete understanding of the dog’s presence in a public place.

Customizable Conveniences

A service dog vest can also have additional helpful features. For example, a zipper pocket provides the handler with a protected, enclosed space to place small belongings such as keys, a phone, or a wallet. An ID badge holder attached onto the vest provides a convenient area for additional identification. Reflective strip service dog vests provide safety for both animal and handler during nighttime or evening outings. Handlers may incorporate these features to create the ideal custom service dog vest for their needs.

Choosing the right combination of materials, messaging, and features for your vest is an important step in traveling in public with a service dog. Make sure to know what your service dog vest needs to help you have an easy outing.

Monday, August 21, 2017

How to Use Emotional Support Animal Vests

How to Use Emotional Support Animal Vests and Other Identification for Dealing with the Public

Apart from the Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), the protection offered to emotional support animals (ESAs) varies from state to state. Some states allow ESAs more freedom in public places, while others have stricter policies. Lately, many policies have become more stringent because of the increasing number of pet owners claiming their pets are service animals when they are not.
If you have a legitimate need to bring your ESA in public, you should consider taking steps to provide proof of your claim.

Wear Emotional Support Animal Vests

Many among the public see an animal with a vest and assume it is a service animal. However, you must make sure the public knows your animal is an ESA to ensure you don’t break any laws. Avoid sending a misleading message by fitting your animal with an emotional support animal vest. An ESA vest will clearly state “Emotional Service Animal” or “Emotional Support Dog” to help clear up any confusion.

Provide Documentation When Asked

An emotional support animal vest all on its own may not provide enough “proof.” For example, airlines often have rigid policies to ensure a passenger absolutely needs to bring an animal on board. If an authority figure continues asking about your animal even after acknowledging its emotional support animal vest, you may want to provide additional documentation to support your claim.
Emotional support animal certification can help satisfy a questioning authority. Certificates have both your name and your animal’s name on them, as well as an official-looking registration date. If they would rather see a doctor’s note, you may want to print up an ESA sample doctor’s letter for your physician to fill out.

Reinforce Your Claim

Although they work to improve the well-being of their handlers, ESAs do not have the same rights service dogs have. They are not protected in most public places. However, some establishments have begun welcoming emotional support animals under certain criteria, requiring behavioral standards or a visual indication such as emotional support dog vests. These places prove that people who need their ESA should feel comfortable while visiting, provided they are not being dishonest.
To ensure you aren’t abusing their laws, the following items can help when out in public with your ESA:
  •         Emotional support animal vests
  •            Certification with both your name and your ESA’s name
  •          A doctor’s letter signed by your doctor

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

5 Places Where Therapy Dogs Are Making a Difference

A therapy dog offers therapeutic comfort and affection to all those it comes in contact with. Its warm temperament and friendly disposition can brighten anyone’s day, however, you don’t need to happen across one on the street to enjoy its presence. Special organizations bring therapy dogs to visit residents or patients of public institutions such as hospitals. These are often the only times when dogs are able to be on the premises of public buildings and establishments when they are otherwise not allowed. Once there, the therapy dogs are able to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

#1. Hospitals

No one likes staying at the hospital, however, a patient doesn’t have much choice but to stay put until they get the care they need. If it ends up being a lengthy stay, boredom and loneliness can set in. A visit from a therapy dog can offset this and improve a patient’s mood. Identified by a therapy dog vest, they are common visitors to both children’s and general hospitals, helping patients of all ages.

#2. Retirement and Nursing Homes

A retirement home provides housing, entertainment, and health care for senior citizens. Although residents are in good company with their neighbors, some don’t get visits all that often. These residents are the ones who most appreciate the unconditional love offered by a therapy dog. Additionally, therapy dogs are common guests at nursing homes, which house elderly residents or people with mental illnesses. Residents sometimes spend most of their days isolated, so the interaction with a friendly dog, overflowing with exuberance and joy in its therapy dog vest, can be the highlight of their day.

#3. Libraries

Library programs help children discover an enriching learning environment by letting them read books to therapy dogs. Reading to a therapy dog provides a stress-free, non-judgmental way to practice their reading skills without fear of someone interrupting them or correcting them when they stumble over a word. The kids have fun, and the whole process encourages them to continue reading.

#4. Schools

Elementary schools bring a wealth of new experiences for young children. But between all the lessons, new friends, and homework assignments, it can start to get a little overwhelming. That’s when therapy dogs come can be used to help kids get through their day. The dogs offer a friendly face and can handle as many pets as children are willing to give.

#5. College Campuses

For college students, school can be less a place of learning and more a place of great stress. During finals week at the end of the semester, this stress can build up to alarming levels. That’s why therapy dogs have begun visiting campuses to help students decompress, relieving them of stress so they can hopefully pass their difficult classes. Although therapy dogs are not protected by the ADA, like service dogs are, businesses and institutions may allow them if they go through the proper channels. This collaboration between organizations and public institutions allow therapy dogs to provide comfort to those who need it, regardless of the usual laws and restrictions, and make a real difference.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Service dog gear for your first public outing

Service Dog Gear for Your First Public Outing

Going into a public place with your service dog for the first time can be stressful, especially if you are new to it. However, with the right type of service dog gear, you can make your outing more comfortable. This includes equipment such as leashes, ID cards, and more. Although these items are not required, you may find your time with your service dog more comfortable if you bring them.

Useful Service Dog Gear

If you have never taken your service dog out in public before, you may encounter members of the public who are not aware of ADA law. These individuals may object to your dog being in a public place. Although ADA law makes it illegal for them to bar your dog entry if he is a service dog, you may make these situations easier if you have the following service dog gear.

A service dog vest can help the public visually identify your dog as a service dog. Patches sewn onto the vest that read “Service Dog – Full Access,” “Registered Service Dog,” or “Service Dog – Access Required” help the public understand your dog must be allowed to go wherever you go.

Service dog ID cards go the extra mile in informing the public about your service dog. These are customized, high quality PVC plastic cards that consist of your name, your dog’s name, as well as the Federal Laws, including the phone number for the United States Department of Justice. If at any time you find the public is not receptive to your service dog, or if you simply want to help them understand the laws regarding service dogs, you may produce one of these official-looking ID cards.
Service dog vests and ID cards can offer up essential information to the public that can help you during your first public outing.

Convenient Service Dog Gear

Certain service dog gear can make your outings more comfortable and convenient.
A service dog collar functions like a regular dog collar, and allows you to attach a leash and dog tags to it. A service dog collar also allows you to attach a service dog clip-on patch tag. These tags offer additional information to help the public understand your dog is a service dog by clearly stating your dog is a “Registered Service Dog.”

A service dog leash helps keep your dog close so he can provide you with sufficient aid. A leash also acts as a visual signifier that shows you have your dog under control, which offers the public peace of mind.

Remember that you are not required to have any specific kind of service dog gear to take your dog in public. Even a service dog vest is not required. However, to ensure your first public outing with your service dog goes smoothly, the right service dog gear can make all the difference.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Padded reflective or mesh emotional support dog vests

Reflective, Padded, or Mesh: Which Emotional Support Dog Vest is Best?

There are three main kinds of emotional support dog vest: reflective, padded, and mesh. When choosing the one that’s right for your ESA dog, you must consider your options. Do you prefer the added safety of a reflective vest, or would a mesh vest be more comfortable for your dog? Although any kind of emotional support dog vest will work, it’s important to choose one that fits both your and your dog’s specific needs.

Reflective Emotional Support Dog Vest

A reflective ESA dog vest is useful for running errands at night or under dimly lit conditions. Reflective strips are attached to each side of the vest, offering increased visibility at night. Many reflective vests come with features like Velcro enclosures and zipper pockets for convenient storage of ID cards, wallets, or other small items. Comfort is also a priority with these vests, and they are made from medium-weight fabric for breathability and durability.

Padded Emotional Support Dog Vest

Padded emotional support dog vests are made to last. Each padded vest features two layers of 1000 denier nylon/urethane fabric for durability and safety. They are also weather resistant, and all seams are bound and reinforced for long-lasting use. These features ensure the vest will enable your dog to provide you with comfort and support for years. The extra padding also provides comfort and safety for your dog.

Mesh Emotional Support Dog Vest

A mesh ESA dog vest is ideal for hot or humid weather conditions. If you’re worried about your dog’s comfort while he supports you, a mesh vest adds all-important breathability. These are a good choice for long-haired dogs, who may already run a bit warmer during hot weather. Unlike our other types of ESA vests, the mesh vests do not have ID badge holders; however, they do have the typical ESA patch attached, as well as space for an additional patch if needed. All ESA dog vests have adjustable girth and chest straps that provide a perfect fit and are available for both small (under 30 lbs.) and large dogs (30 lbs. and up). Whichever type of emotional support dog vest you choose, your dog will feel comfortable and safe enough to provide you with comfort and support. Make sure that when you go out in public that you are prepared with the right ESA dog vest.

How Much Identification Do You Need for Your Therapy Dog?

How much does the public really know about a therapy dog? The first thing they should know is that therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort to help elders in nursing homes, victims of disaster areas, visit schools and other visitation areas helping others manage their stress. However, the second and equally important thing they need to know is that a therapy dog does not have the same rights as a service dog.

Although service dogs are protected by government laws, a therapy dog is not. He may not be able to access the same areas a service dog could. Therefore, identification may be used to help the public understand how he helps others in a public setting.

We have listed several means of therapy dog identification that you can use to show that the animal is clearly a therapy dog. This will help avoid any possibility of misrepresentation in public, while allowing others to see the benefits of how a therapy dog can help them.

Therapy Dog Vests

A vest is a clear signifier that a dog in a public place is not just a pet but is helping their handler or helping others as a Therapy Dog. Many people who see a dog wearing a vest associate them with service dogs, so it is of the utmost importance to ensure the therapy dog wears a therapy dog vest. This is a vest that has patches attached to it that clearly say in bold letters: “Therapy Dog.” These vests may also store an ID card for further identification.

Therapy Dog ID Cards

When it comes to providing professional-looking identification upon request, a therapy dog ID card can be very useful. When asked about the therapy dog, you may provide an ID card that clearly states your name, your dog’s name, or your organization, and the words “Therapy Dog.” These cards can help clear up any misconceptions about whether your dog is a therapy dog or service dog.


As we mentioned before, patches attached to therapy dog vests are a good way to identify a dog as a therapy dog. You may use additional patches that say valuable information like “Disabled Veteran,” “U.S. Army,” and U.S. Marines” to provide more context to your dog’s function in a public setting. Additional patches may be added to your dog’s vest or may be attached via clip-on patch tags.

You can find other accessories to help you identify a dog as a therapy dog, including window decals and keepsake cards. These can be helpful, but their use will depend on where you are going with the therapy dog. Wherever you choose to go with a therapy dog, just be sure to have several methods of identification such as therapy dog patches and ID Cards.