What is a service dog?
We love animals and especially dogs!
There is some confusion as to what a service dog is. Scams and lies offering vests and documentation papers claiming to permit anyone to permit any animal to be a service dog. This is simply not true.
In Florida, falsely claiming a pet as a service animal is a second-degree misdemeanor under § 413.08(9), Fla. Stat. (2023), and a conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to 60 days plus a $500 fine.
Above is a link to the ADA Government Web site that will explain the truth about what the ADA laws are.
Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Most reputable service dog organizations in Florida have a wait list of 2-5 years for service dogs.
Actual trained service dogs range in cost from $25,000 - $50,000
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.
This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s regulations.
Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.
How “Service Animal” Is Defined
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the relevant State attorney general’s office.
What Is a Fake Service Animal?
Some people falsely claim that their pets are service animals to try to bring them into public places or avoid paying extra money to bring them on airplanes or have them in rental housing. Falsely claiming a pet is a service animal is damaging to people who need the assistance of real service dogs. It is also illegal in numerous states to falsely claim an animal that is only a pet is a service animal. In Florida, falsely claiming a pet as a service animal is a second-degree misdemeanor under § 413.08(9), Fla. Stat. (2023), and a conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to 60 days plus a $500 fine.