First, let's briefly define what a service dog is...
A service dog is an assistant animal meant to improve their person's quality of life by performing tasks he/she cannot perform for him/herself.
This automatically narrows it down to task specific needs.
Now let's identify what a service dog IS NOT...
A dog that just gives you comfort IS NOT a Service Dog. Sorry, it's not. "But I get panic attacks", sorry, not a Service Dog. IF you get panic attacks that prevent you from performing a task you need to perform, then YES. That would be the exception. If your dog warns you before you have a panic attack, or hugs you when you get panic attacks, then that's a task. If you need a dog when you're stressed, and there's no task involved, you may need an ESA (Emotional Support Animal)
"My Service Dog goes to hospitals and libraries for people to pet him." No, that's a Therapy Dog. No public access, not task specific for you, it's handler/person.
"I put a vest on my dog so I can travel with him. So he's my Service dog when I travel."
Why is it important to know what a Service Dog is and IS NOT? You don't want to be the jackass bringing his/her dog to public places and have the dog make a fool out of you, itself and worst of all, the REAL SERVICE DOGS.
Yes, shitty Service Dogs are slowly ruining the reputation of REAL SERVICE DOGS.
TOP REASONS YOU SHOULD JUST TAKE THAT VEST OFF YOUR SERVICE DOG
1. Your Service Dog growls at people or dogs (or both):
Time to take that vest off, your "Service Dog" is now a pet. No really, I'm not making that up. Per the Department of Justice, these dogs are NOT protected under the ADA and an establishment is under their right to remove you from the premises.
"Well, my dog is fine for the most part, it's just some people (dogs)" NOPE! Your dog is NOT a Service Dog. This is why Service Dogs are not Made, they're born.
Plus, think about it. Do you really want a dog that adds that type of stress to your daily routine? You don't! I've seen "Service Dogs" that actually give their humans more stress than anything else! Do yourself, the public and especially the Service Dog industry a favor, don't call your aggressive dog a Service Dog.
2. Your Service Dog was trained for Protection as well:
I'll let the Department of Justice answer that.
“...People have asserted, incorrectly, that use of such animals (Protection SD’s) is protected under the ADA. The Department reiterates that public entities are not required to admit any animal that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.”
If you were sold one of these dogs, sorry, you were ripped off by someone who either didn't know what they were doing, or purposely tried to deceive you.
3. Your Service Dog is a random dog that is being trained or was trained to be a Service Dog:
It's possible of course, but not likely that just any random dog has the right nerves to be a Service Dog. The selection process has to be done properly. Otherwise it's a hassle for everyone, especially the recipient.
Please be careful with Service Dog organizations. Everyone and their cousin has a Service Dog organization now a days. They're coming out of the woodwork and very few of them actually know what they're doing. The scary thing is that many of these organizations are legitimate. They have the paperwork, the donors, the facilities, sponsors, etc. But have no idea what they're doing. They have good intentions, but are not properly equipped or informed to select, train or assign Service Dogs.
"How do I know if the organization is good or bad?"
There are a few red flags to be aware of:
*Are they taking in any dog donations and turning most of them into Service Dogs? This tells me they're not screening the temperament properly.
*Are they training Service Dogs in just a matter of weeks? This could be an issue as it doesn't allow for enough screening or even proper training of the Service Dog.
*Is there little or no financial assistance available? This doesn't automatically make them bad! but I've seen people get burned by for-profit organizations and talked to people who ran strictly for-profit Service Dog organizations who did this for the huge paychecks. Their quality of training and screening was shit however.
*What are their trainer's credentials? Are they just volunteers who don't really know how to train dogs or have formal education? Doing temperament tests and training dogs to perform tasks is not something you learn on a weekend workshop. It takes experience and specialized training.