Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.” (ADA.gov)
At Paws and Stripes, we train Mobility Assist Service Dogs that may also assist in other tasks. This means that our dogs help with assisting in getting up from the ground, assisting in getting up from a chair or bench, assisting in going up and down the stairs, assisting in opening doors, pushing handicap switches, pushing elevator buttons, closing doors, drawers, and cabinets. Dogs can interrupt by licking the handler’s face or hands, lying on his or her chest, nuzzling, or instigating play by bringing a toy or stick to the owner. Service animals may be trained to interrupt a flashback, nightmare, panic attack, anxiety attack, self-harm, disassociation, freezing out of fear, and repetitive behaviors. These interruptions can improve the effects of mood swings, depression and anxiety. A dog can only be taught to interrupt a behavior that is visible and that can be replicated enough times for the dog to learn the behavior. Paws and Stripes does not train Emotional Support dogs, Therapy Dogs, Medical Alert Service Dogs, Hearing Aid or Seeing Eye Dogs. An Emotional Support Dog “ESA" is a medically prescribed animal that provides comfort to help relieve a symptom or effect of a person's disability. An emotional support animal is not a pet and is generally not restricted by species. These animals are not required to have special training, and with a letter from a certified health care provider they may be exempt from certain federal housing and some travel laws. Therapy Animals are usually a person's own pet dog that the person has had qualified (through a therapy dog organization) to make visits to hospitals, schools, nursing homes, etc. Almost any pet can be qualified to be a therapy animal. Therapy dogs are considered pets and must follow policy. A well-mannered, well-behaved dog that enjoys meeting people. Service Animals are working animals that have been trained to perform tasks that assist disabled people. Dogs are the most common, but horses are also allowed per the ADA in the US. These animals are highly trained and are exempt from federal housing and travel laws. They are also allowed anywhere the public is; with exception given to sterile or unsafe places.
Paws and Stripes has also recently integrated a Companion Animal Program in an effort to broaden our outreach to veterans. The structure of this program is set around the Canine Good Citizen Evaluation (CGC), an American Kennel Club (AKC) approved Program. These are NOT to be confused with an ESA. The class is 12 weeks long and teams can retake the class as many times as they’d like. The course focuses on bonding, dog management, and basic obedience skills with the goal being to have a well-mannered pet. These dogs can be any age, size, etc.