What Is a Service Dog?
Service dogs are specifically trained to help complete a task or job for someone that may be physically handicapped or disabled. Under the Federal Law service dogs and their owners have been granted rights to complete the physical task they have been trained to complete. They have access to public areas.
Service dogs are trained to assist someone with a disability, and they are granted access to:
- No pet housing
- And are allowed in public places such as restaurants, stores, and Uber
Do Not Pet or Disturb.
Most people know you should not pet or disturb service dogs, when people see the vest and the disabled person, they usually understand to not pet the animal because the animal is working. Also, the vest says something along the lines of:
So Why Can't You Pet Service Dogs?
It is highly discouraged and in fact, common courtesy. Even though service dogs are trained to ignore distractions, at the end of the day, they are still animals
You should not distract a service dog in any way.
- You should not do anything to distract a service dog because a service dog is not an ordinary pet.
- They are a WORKING service dog, and their primary focus should be on helping their owner and keeping them safe.
- When the dog is distracted, he is not paying attention to his job and his disabled human handler could very easily get hurt.
- Even though service dogs are trained to ignore these distractions, at the end of the day, they are still animals. Never try and distract a dog or take the service dog’s attention away from his or her owner. It is always better to either ignore them or try and stay out of their way.
Can Cats Be a Service Animal?
Cats may not be registered as service animals.
Service animals are animals that are trained to perform a function or specific task that their owners cannot perform due to a clinically diagnosed physical, mental, or emotional disability. Cats are actually trainable but they are not listed as possible service animals and can not be registered. The best thing to do is to register your cat as an emotional support animal. This will grant you access to housing and airplanes without any problems.
What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional support animal is any animal that provides “comfort” to an individual that suffers mentally or emotionally. The most commonly registered animals for emotional support are dogs and cats.
Emotional support animals are more than “pets” because an emotional support animal helps the individual deal with mental and emotional issues and live a normal life. Registering a pet as an emotional support animal grants you special rights for travel and living accommodations. These rights are specified under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.
Emotional support animals are not the same thing as service animals because they are not specifically trained to complete a task for someone who is disabled.