Wednesday, September 30, 2015

5 Things to Know Before Flying

Most airlines nowadays make it easier than ever to take your service dog on trip with you. Many airlines offer an accommodating airline service animal policy that allows your dog to join you directly in the cabin.

You can make traveling with your service dog even easier by outfitting your dog in a service dog vest to make it easily recognizable as a working dog to airline staff and fellow travelers.

Here are five more travel tips from to make sure your next trip with you canine companion goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Call Ahead

Although many airlines accept service animal and service dogs, it's always important to verify the airline's policy before booking your flight. It it is advisable to call ahead to the airline to notify them that your service dog will be accompanying you on the flight. Usually they will note your ticket that you are accompanied by a service dog.

2. Know your dog’s size

A service animal may accompany their handler in the aircraft cabin if the service dog can be accommodated without blocking an isle or areas used for emergency evacuations.  If the service animal is too big to sit under the seat or at the handler’s feet without intruding on another passenger’s space or obstructing the isle it will need to travel in the cargo hold.

3. You May Not Be the Only One with a Service Dog On Board

Be aware that others may also be traveling with their service dogs on your flight. Some airlines may have a limit as to how many animals – either service animals or regular pets - can be aboard the plane at any time. This is why it's important to call ahead and advise the airline you have a service dog as soon as possible. Of course a service animal will most likely take precedence over a regular pet in the case that the animal count limit is reached on a select flight, but it is still good practice to inform your airline in advance to avoid any issues.

4. Research Your Flight's Pet Health Requirements 

Find out ahead of time what vaccinations or health certificates are required for your service dog to fly. Then book an appointment with your vet to make sure that your dog has a clean bill of health before embarking on your trip.

5. Know the Risks

Not all dogs are created equally and certain breeds carry more of a flight risk than others. The Humane Society recommends that dogs with “pushed in” faces, such as bulldogs and pugs, should not travel by plane.

Follow These Tips and Enjoy Your Trip

Flying with service animals has never been easier, especially when you follow all the above steps.

Don't forget the number one tip and make sure your service dog is equipped with a noticeable service dog vest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Emotional Support Animal Vests

Emotional Support Animals, or ESAs, offer more than just companionship. They provide an increased comfort level for their owner, particularly in social situations. They also require a note from a licensed mental health professional to qualify.

While people are growing accustomed to seeing service dogs, identifiable by their service dog vests in public places, emotional support animals are a newer movement and may require getting used to by some people. They are also not covered by the same laws as service animals.

What is the Difference Between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal

Many people confuse emotional support animals with service animals but there are important distinctions between the two.

Service dogs, including seeing-eye dogs and dogs that aid with disabilities, are supported by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) while emotional support dogs are not and therefore do not receive the same privileges as service dogs in public. While emotional support animals are allowed to fly with their owners and qualify for no-pet housing, they are not required to be allowed entry into any public establishment that ban animals (Source: National Service Animal Registry).

What Is An Emotional Support Animal?

Dogs are the popular choice for emotional support animals and are easily recognizable with an emotional support animal vest. They provide comfort for their owners in public places, such as stores, restaurants and airplanes.

While dogs are common emotional support animals, other less common species have also filled the role. Some of the unique and perhaps surprising animals to assist people for emotional support include pigs, rabbits, snakes and alligators.

Unfortunately, some of these animals may cause anxiety to the general public, despite providing comfort to their owner (Source: Boston Globe).

Stand Out with an Emotional Support Animal Vest

Although emotional support animals are not supported by the ADA, you can still help the public to accept your animal companion by purchasing an emotional support animal vest. These vests highlight that your animal is there to offer you support and will reduce the number of potential confrontations from less animal-loving people in public.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Service Dog ID Provides a Special Advantage

Service dog identification is important as it helps to distinguish your working dog from a regular pet while in public. By providing a service dog id, such as a vest, tag or card, it makes it easier for business owners and the general public to understand that your canine or other type of animal is doing its job by accompanying you.

Contrary to popular belief, service dogs come in many shapes and sizes. While it's still common for Labrador retrievers to be service dogs, dogs as small as a Chihuahua can also serve a purpose as a service dog. However, there are some people that may not be aware of this, and may question you regarding your small service dog. Outfitting your dog with a service dog identification vest, or simply carrying around a service dog ID card can help to address any issues before they begin.

What are the ADA Rules for Service Dogs?

According to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses must allow service dogs to accompany people with disabilities into their establishments. This holds true for restaurants and other businesses that may not typically allow pets.

Under the act, businesses can't ask about the disability or require any paperwork but they can question if the dog is required to help with a general disability. They can also ask what tasks the dog has been trained to assist with.

Wearing a service dog ID will make it evident to the public that your dog is a service dog and will probably lessen the number of questions about its purpose.

Of note, Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either (source). However, ESAs can benefit from wearing a service vest, or by the handler carrying an ID stating that the animal is indeed an ESA.

What Happens When There's a Problem?

Unfortunately, some businesses or establishments may be unaware of the ADA laws and try to ban people with disabilities from bringing their service dogs into their businesses even when outfitted with visual identifiers that an animal is acting in a special service type of capacity to its handler.  When this happens, both the handler and the animal may just choose to leave and patronize or visit a different establishment. Some establishments may even be aware of ADA laws, but still try to ban an animal serving as a service or support animal.  In some instances, legal battles have ensued. This was the case with a man who had difficulty with his housing establishment

Although service dog identification won't solve the problem in every case, it can help to reduce the amount of resistance from the public.

For more information about ADA rules, please visit: