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Office Hour Change

Effective January 16, 2015:

Monday – Thursday
9:00am - 5:00pm

Friday
9:00am - Noon

We will be unavailable for appointments or phone calls on Friday afternoons, so that we may finalize our work for the week. This also ensures that we have some uninterrupted time to devote to the needs of our clients.

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What Makes a Dog a Legal Companion or Emotional Support Dog?

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Image Source: swong95765

If you were to go online and look for certification for your dog as a companion or emotional support animal you would find a number of websites that offer certificates, patches, ID tags, etc. for a fee, but is it worth spending $69.95 to get your dog certified?  Many of these websites lead you to believe that with their certification, you will be able to take your dog anywhere, including airplanes and government buildings, but let’s look at the facts.

 

By federal regulation, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  These tasks need to be specific to the individual’s disability; such as a guide dog for a visually impaired individual or a medical alert dog for someone with seizures or diabetes.  Service dogs do not have to be obtained through a service dog organization and registration of a service dog is not mandated by federal law.  The law does not require a service dog to wear any identifying vest or ID.  The law does specifically exclude dogs whose sole function is to provide emotional support.  State laws may allow for a broader definition; both in the type of animals that qualify and the service they offer, so you may want to refer to your state’s statute for clarification.

 

When a service dog is in public, a business owner has the right to ask the disabled individual (or someone accompanying them) what tasks the service dog performs.  It is very important that the individual is able to name tasks that relate to their disability or the business owner can deny access to the service animal.  A business cannot deny access due to fear of dogs or allergies.  This includes work and school.

 

When a service dog is in public they must be under the control of their handler at all times.  It is preferred that a service animal have a harness, leash or tether but they can be loose if using these items limits the animals ability to safely and effectively perform the tasks it has been trained to do.  In that case the handler must be able to maintain control of the animal through verbal commands and/or gestures.  If a service animal is considered out of control, a business has the right to ask that the animal be removed from the premises; but the individual has to be allowed to finish their business (without the presence of the service animal).

 

So how can an emotional support or companion dog be a legal service animal with all the protections that come with the title?  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, one acceptable category of service dog is a psychiatric service dog.  By definition a psychiatric service dog aids individuals with cognitive, psychiatric, or neurological disabilities.  This opens the door for someone with PTSD or another severe emotional condition to qualify, if their physician can document an emotional condition that rises to the standard of a psychiatric diagnosis or the condition effects cognitive functioning.

 

Despite the exclusion of emotional support dogs in public, some airlines will allow an emotional support animal to fly with an individual if their primary care physician provides appropriate documentation.

 

Warning:  Some folks just put a vest on a dog and fake it. That may work, or it may fail.  There have been recent discussion with law makers for this to be a punishable offense.

 

Sources: www.thecenterforindependence.org; www.ada.gov; www.servicedogcentral.orgwww.nsarco.com and Florida Statutes 413.08

There is Something New Every Day

birthday candlesAs a Guardian, there truly is something new every day…

This week I was contacted by a dialysis center that had an intellectually challenged 18-year-old young man who has been on their transplant list for years.

This young man had just turned 18, and now the transplant team’s admin folks require that he have a guardian to stay on the transplant list, because they feel he does not have capacity to consent.

So the question is which type of guardianship is right for him?

A 744 — adult guardianship or 393 – Guardian Advocate for a developmentally-disabled guy?

I have a conference call with the transplant teams’ admin folks scheduled, so we’ll see where this goes.

Like I said – there really is something new every day. You just can’t make this stuff up.

A Helpful Question for Guardians Working with Doctors

Doctor greeting patientAs Guardians who are often involved in tough health care decisions, we want the very best for our clients.

If you’re like us, sometimes you’ve wondered how to connect with a doctor when big decisions need to be made.

I have found that a simple question can break down barriers and create a connection that best serves our clients.

“Doc, if this was your mother (father, grandmother, grandfather, brother or sister) what would you do?”

This simple question can help stop all the madness of the spinning plates and just get to the heart of the question. It has worked well for us. Good luck. TB.