Pet Therapy New Year’s Resolution? 10 Answers to… Is It Right For You?

Whiskey and II have been asked numerous times why I’m in a training mode about pet therapy. Seems many people feel they have the PERFECT dog, and they want to know how to qualify their dog for this new adventure.

Having done pet therapy myself years ago, I enlisted an expert in the field, Sandy Dubin, who is a Pet Partner Evaluator and Instructor, to “correctly” answer 10 basic questions.

Just remember, pet therapy dogs are NOT service dogs. They are not allowed in public settings… only those where they are directly doing the therapy sessions, i.e. hospitals, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, schools, libraries, etc.

Here is my interview with her covering these topics:

  1. What can I expect my time commitment per month to be?
  2. How old does my dog need to be? Is it a requirement they be spayed or neutered?
  3. What does CGC mean?
  4. What is the next step when my dog passes the test?
  5. What happens if my dog fails the test?
  6. How much does it cost to have my dog certified?
  7. How often is certification given and re-certification needed?
  8. What other animals can become therapy animals?
  9. What do I have to do to prepare my dog for a therapy visit?
  10. Who do I contact if I want to do pet therapy in a hospital, nursing home, library, etc.?

[Read more…]

Part III – Emotional Support Dogs and Airline Transportation

Part III - Emotional Support Dogs and Airline TransportationThe U.S. Department of Transportation regulations are different than those pertaining to the U.S. Department of Justice “Americans With Disabilities Act” regulations.

In summary, per the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners:

“There are new, more detailed procedures for the carriage of emotional support and psychiatric service animals. The carrier may require the passenger to provide current documentation from a mental health professional caring for the passenger that the passenger has a specific, recognized mental or emotional disability and that the passenger needs to be accompanied by the specific, emotional support of psychiatric service animal in question, either on the flight or at the passenger’s destination.”

“Foreign carriers are not required to carry service animals other than dogs.”

“If you are traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you may be required by the airline to provide 48 hours’ advance notice.”

Naturally, contact your airline for their specific rules on service animals and seating. All service dogs will need a current health certificate as well. Most of the time, you won’t need to show it, but there may be a situation where it is required to board. Make sure you have it on you, not packed in your checked luggage.

Part II – Emotional Support Dogs

Training dog in vestIf you missed part one, Service Dog 101, you can read it here.

Continuing the discussion…

It was brought to my attention that I forgot to also mention emotional support dogs need to do physical tasks or “work” to mitigate a medical condition. I will repeat that just having a dog in your lap for emotional “comfort” is not a legitimate service dog in “public” settings. Service dogs must be trained to provide “physical” work or tasks to mitigate a disability.

Here is the link to my website with the Federal Housing Act regarding emotional support dogs. This document will give you the complete information on housing and emotional support dog rights. 

Part III – Emotional Support Dogs and modes of transportation – next installment!!

Service Dog 101 – Part 1

Golden Retriever - Training Page PhotoWelcome to my new monthly series: Service Dog 101

a) Let’s start with…What is a disability?

An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

“Major life activities” include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking and breathing, learning and working.

You must meet these criteria before you will be considered to be a potential service dog handler. There is extensive and intensive training – both for the person (with the disability) and the dog.

b) What is a service dog? [Read more…]

Service Dog or Pampered Pooch… Attire Needs to be Regulated!

The time has come to address this ever growing problem of personal pets in “service dog” gear. Suffice it to say, business owners are getting increasingly agitated at the numbers of dogs coming into their businesses that are being “portrayed” as service dogs in very suspect service dog gear. The real losers in this “scam” are the thousands of legitimate service dog handlers who have trained extensively with their dogs to aid their disability.  Their public access is being challenged! Not only are “fake” service dogs a nuisance but they can be a real danger to legitimate service dogs by lunging, biting and distracting service dogs while they work.  Here is my video to address all this! 

Please take a moment to sign this petition to stop businesses that are selling service dog gear.!

Service dog or pampered pooch (Video snapshot)