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Business Specialist Column (Service Animals)

August 28, 2019

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of service animals? Maybe you immediately think of a cat, dog, or another animal that you may see when you are out and about in public, or shopping at a local retail store, or attending a work-related training in your community.

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center defines service animals as dogs (or even miniature horses, as a modification) that are trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, service animals are individually trained to provide support that’s relevant to the person’s disability.

Examples of service animals include:
• Guide/seeing dogs - guiding individuals who are blind,
• Hearing/signal dogs - trained to alert individuals with significant hearing loss or who are deaf when sounds arise,
• Psychiatric service dogs - trained to complete tasks supporting individuals with mental health diagnoses by alerting them of onsets of psychiatric episodes in efforts to lessen the effects,
• Sensory/social signal dogs - trained to assist individuals with autism, such as alerting him/her to distract them from repetitive movements, and
• Seizure response dogs - trained to assist individuals with seizure disorders, such as assisting him/her during a seizure episode or may even go retrieve help from others.

It is important to note that dogs providing emotional support or comfort do not qualify as service animals regardless of whether they’ve been trained. Titles II and III of the ADA provide protection of service animals or dogs; more specifically, Titles II and III pertain to businesses or nonprofit organizations serving the public must typically allow service animals in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed.

Businesses and/or its staff are limited to asking the two following questions if there is a concern about the service an animal can provide:

• Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
• What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
If you have additional questions, please contact the Division of Rehabilitation Services’ business specialist Kimberly Ludwig at (605) 626-2398 or by email at kimberly.ludwig@state.sd.us.

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