The designation of “service animal” should be reserved for specially trained animals only.


Cadence Andrus and Braylon Carson

The designation of “service animals” should be reserved for specially trained animals only. 

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” This specifically states that certified service animals have to be trained and can only be dogs. “Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either. ” When you have service animals it has specific access to all public places but therapy or emotional support animals do not. However other states do have laws saying otherwise, but under the federal act, only trained dogs have such access. 

When a service animal is not trained then we risk the public abusing the rights of service animals by saying they need it for emotional support when they just don’t want to leave their furry friend behind. Some people in power already see this and are making a change to battle this problem like Minnesota governor Mark Dayton and  Arizona governor Doug Ducey.

Another factor to consider is allergies. 10-20% of people worldwide are allergic to dogs and cats. “It was the most costly disease in the United States with an estimated at $593 USD per employee per year in lost productivity (absenteeism+unproductive) without accounting for the cost of asthma exacerbations,” says the US National Library of Medicine. With the regulation of trained service animals, we would decrease the number of unnecessary dogs with access to all public places which would reduce the number of allergy attacks among the general public. Then those that truly need the service of these animals the most would have access to them and other emotional support animals would be kept at home. This would help the greatest amount of people of the general public because while not everyone that has emotional needs would have access to a comfort animal, the general public would be more healthy and those with severe disabilities would have service dogs.

What about animals that are already in service but are not trained? Well, they also risk the loss of access to help their owners. Service dogs must be trained to do work for their handlers. Depending on the state emotional support animals may not need to be trained and still be granted the same access and federally mandated service dogs, however, we ought to have a nationwide policy for trained dogs. According to the the ADA “The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.”

Many would mention that the cost of training is too expensive for service animals. While the cost of basic training can be anywhere from $7,000-$30,000, it would well be worth the price to have your needs met and ensure that you get the help that you need. If you decide not to get your service dog trained than you risk losing access for it to come to public places with you because it would no longer follow ADA regulations.