emotional support animals Mission Viejo California

Service dogs in Mission Viejo are amazing. They have been extensively trained, live strict but loved lives, and take care of their owners like truly no one else can. The dogs’ abilities to detect seizures, pick up dropped items, and even warn owners of impending stroke or heart attack make these dogs literally life savers.

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With all the amazing things these animals can do, it’s no wonder we have learned to accept them in places we usually wouldn’t, like a restaurant or the office. But there is a growing cynicism towards service and support animals in general, and mostly because of misunderstanding, and I’ll admit that I used to be one of these people.

I was not raised in a house with pets, and I never could understand the “emotional support animal. I could understand a seeing eye dog or a dog that assists with the hearing impaired, but these are obvious needs that a dog could help with. When I would see articles about an emotional support pig or bunny, I would roll my eyes.

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How Should You Act Around a Service Dog?

How should you act around a service dog?

A person's natural instinct is to pet and play with dogs.

Unfortunately, we must all respect the vest or cape of the service dog and ignore the dog as much as possible. That means not petting it, touching it, distracting it, talking to it, teasing it, or especially feeding it.

So, how should you act? Really the best way and only recommended way is by totally ignoring the dog the same way you would politely ignore a wheelchair or cane.

A service dog that is not ignored may become "ruined" and unusable by its owner, and given that service dogs are both very hard to find for specific conditions and extremely expensive (typically averaging $15,000 each) this can be devastating for the dog's owner.

By violating this etiquette, you have also just helped contribute to the person's loss of freedom and possibly made it necessary for the owner to give up the dog, which would be heartbreaking, and for the person to require the use of a Personal Care Attendant (PCA)—another person shadowing them all the time—to provide some of the services that the dog used to perform.

Service Dog Basics for the Public

Do you have a hard time working around a service dog?

It's very hard for some people to be around service dogs and service dogs in-training because a person's natural instinct is to pet and play with dogs, especially the healthy well-kept dogs who work as service dogs.

Unfortunately, we must all respect the vest or cape of the service dog and ignore the dog as much as possible rather than petting it, touching it, distracting it, talking to it or teasing it, or even looking at it.

When the cape/vest is on, the dog is working

After all, whenever the cape is on, the dog is working hard, whether it looks like it to you or not.

Among other things, the dog is working very hard to ignore you and the tiny morsel of food on the floor over there that looks tasty.

The dog is also focused on its handler, remaining alert for any commands, scents, or hand signals for action.

It falls asleep all the time. How is that "working"?

Most service dogs are trained to catch a nap whenever possible during the day to give them the energy they need when their work is most actively needed.

Napping at strategic times, such as lunchtime and meetings, is a type of work essential for them to do their service dog work; the dog is not in any way "falling asleep on the job" in a negative sense.

So, how should you act?

Really the best way is by ignoring the dog the same way you would politely ignore a wheelchair or cane.

The service dog and its handler try to minimize the distraction the dog provides to the public, but the public needs to learn and obey manners with respect to the dog and the disabled person (or dog trainer) also.

Remember that it's not polite to stare, point, or talk about people.

One thing you should never do

It's very impolite to ask why someone uses a service dog because their disability is private health information.

Benefits of service dogs

Service dogs can be of great benefit to people with all sorts of disabilities, including invisible disabilities like diabetes, asthma, vertigo, and psychiatric disabilities.

Don't assume that a person who "looks good" and is with a service dog isn't disabled just because the disability isn't obvious to you.

Bonus: Service dogs are also a calming, friendly presence around the office or place or business.

And finally...

Remember, if a service dog's vest is on they are working.

Service dogs are NOT pets, by law, and interfering with a service dog team is actually a crime in most states.

The same manners that apply to a wheelchair apply to a service dog: that's the easiest way to remember what's right or wrong most of the time.

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Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs - What's the Difference?

The following is a summary of possible legislation in your area that may affect you and your dog

Leash Laws - Leashes laws not only protect the community at large but also the dog itself. Normally, when a dog is in a public place, the owner is required to be in control of the dog on a leash that is six feet or less. Complaints may result in warnings, fines and/or having the dog impounded. Many municipalities have specific designated areas where a dog may be off leash as long as it is licensed, current on its vaccinations and friendly to people and other dogs.

Noise Ordinances - These ordinances are common in most cities and often include excessive barking. Complaints may result in warnings, fines and in some cases even having the dog impounded.

Livestock Laws - In many rural areas dogs can legally be shot or euthanized for harassing or killing livestock and the owner may be required to compensate for any losses.

Animal Cruelty Laws - These laws are designed to protect animals including dogs. Definitions vary widely throughout different areas ranging from intentional injury or killing to neglect in providing food, water and shelter to abandonment. Penalties also vary widely from felony convictions to fines and misdemeanors.

Antifreeze Laws - Antifreeze is typically sweet to the taste, yet highly toxic. Some areas require that antifreeze have a bitter agent added to it, to make it less palatable, but this does not normally apply to wholesalers. Thousands of dogs die each year due to poisoning.

Airline Laws - In the U.S. dogs being transported by airline are required to have adequately sized and ventilated kennels with handles and be clearly marked. They must also be provided with adequate food and water depending on their age. Puppies under 8 weeks old are not allowed.

Breed Bans - Many cities, counties, provinces or states, and even countries have introduced legislation banning or controlling certain dog breeds. These are typically aimed at the pit-bull or other guardian breeds. It is also not unusual to find certain apartments, housing complexes or gated communities banning certain breeds. Some insurance companies are also not insuring homeowners with certain breeds.

To learn the specific rights and responsibilities you have as a dog owner contact your local animal control agency.

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Emotional support animal

Do you have a child with PDD or autism that is receiving special education services? Are you considering, getting an autism service dog for your child, and you wonder what the school's reaction will be? Have you been refused to have an autism service dog attend school with your child and wonder what the law says about it? This article will discuss the requirements for school districts allowing autism service dogs to enter public school buildings, with a child that they are working with.

Autism Service Dogs help children with autism in several ways: the dog can assist children safely access different environments, the dog can be a calming influence, the dog can work on interrupting repetitive behavior by nudging the child, the dog can prevent the child from wandering away (by a tether), and the dog can track the child when they have wandered. Side effects of the dog is that children with autism that have one tend to be calmer and also tend to interact in social situations better than children with autism that do not have a dog.

The newest tactic used by school districts is that the dog cannot be in the class due to another child's allergies. I think that this argument will not hold up in court due to the fact that the child can be placed in another class, the child could take medication if bothered by the dog, and other ways to limit the child's contact with the dog.

The ADA is clear; public schools must allow service dogs to attend class with a child. Several courts have ruled that it is a violation of the ADA to refuse to allow the dogs in class with a child with autism. If you are considering this for your child you must understand what the school's position may be, and how to overcome it, for the benefit of your child's education! Your child is depending on you to advocate for what they need! Good luck in your fight!

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Can School Districts Prevent Autism Service Dogs From Attending School With a Child?

I'm often asked how you register or certify your service dog, the answer is "You Don't". Companies that claim to register or certify your animal without training are simply taking advantage of the handicapped to make a dollar. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect which gives handicapped persons with service animals legal protection to be accompanied by the animal in public places.

Understanding the ADA

So lets first define what a service animal is, According to the ADA, an animal is considered a service animal" if it has been "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability." As you see, the word certify or registered doesn't appear in the law. As a matter fact the US government does not register, certify, license or approve any animal.

So What's a Service Dog Owner to do?

First, make sure you meet the definition of a disabled person and that your dog is specially trained to perform tasks related to your disability. Trying to pass off your pet as a service animal is a federal offense and comes with severe penalties. Outside of the two requirements spelled out in the ADA you don't have to do anything. If you feel identifying your service dog will make your life easier then purchase a quality photo service dog tag, vest with patches or a cape.


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