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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We need your help! The Department of Justice is proposing a new definition of Service Animals

We need your help! The Department of Justice is revisiting the definition of a service animal and this is our chance to make the definition something that helps service dog handlers everywhere! There are three parts to this post and we've organized them to make it easier for you to understand this quickly. 
  1. What is the newly proposed definition of a Service Animal?
  2. What do we think needs to change?
  3. How can you help?
We've long needed a new and updated definition of Service Dogs that includes more specifically the many different types of dogs in use today. Now is our chance to make the definition exactly what we want it to be. For the most part, we think the new definition is a big leap forward. However we have some things we would like to see changed. The United States Service Dog Registry is in full agreement with the IAADP's changes to the law. 

1. What is the newly proposed definition of a service animal?
New Proposed Service Animal Defintion
Subpart A-General  

Service animal means any dog or other common domestic animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, assisting an individual during a seizure, retrieving medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and assisting individuals, including those with cognitive disabilities, with navigation.  The term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities.  The term service animal does not include wild animals (including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including any breed of horse, miniature horse, pony, pig, or goat), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents.  Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals. 

2. What do we think needs to change?  
There are four things we would like to see changed:
  1. We think "minimal protection" needs to be removed from the definition. It's confusing. Service Animals aren't guard dogs.
  2. There needs to be guidelines about what "other species" are accepted as Service Animals. Other animals would need to meet the same standards of behavior as assistance dogs currently do.
  3. There should be no size or weight limit on service animals. Period.
  4. The phrase "do work" is confusing and does not sufficiently define the difference between service animals and emotional support animals, which are not covered under the ADA law.
3. What can you do to help?
Please fill out the form at and copy-paste the four things from above into the Public Comment field at the bottom of the form. Remember, the deadline is August 18, 2008!

1 comment:

Amanda Peterson said...

I'm so glad you posted this, and I found it just in time. I just left my comments for the DOJ on the link you posted.

I'm really against the size restriction. I use a Great Dane just because they're the only breed that can help pull my wheelchair. It's ridiculous that they can put a limit on something like that. Thank you!!!!!!