Client Access Rights:
Disabled individuals with Assistance Dogs are guaranteed legal access to all places of public accommodation, modes of public transportation, recreation, and other places to which the general public is invited.
Assistance Dogs is an overall term that includes Guide Dogs for the blind or visually impaired, Hearing Dogs for the deaf or hard of hearing, and Service Dogs for the disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.
Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. The guide dogs is the one type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples are: (1) Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds; (2) Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments; and (3) Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.
Remember, a service animal is not a pet.
A trainer is a professionally trained staff person or agent (some organizations utilize volunteer trainers) who works for a dog training program for the purpose of schooling dogs in advanced commands and preparing teams for graduation. Volunteers that raise puppies, care for breeding stock, or otherwise assist program staff are not considered trainers. However, as indicated above, some assistance dog organizations rely on a core of volunteer trainers whose function is identical to that of a professionally trained staff, with the exception of pay. For the purposes of determining access, such a volunteer can be considered to be a “trainer” in the sense described above.
Usually the rights of Assistance Dog trainers parallel those of disabled persons and are included in the laws of the state, but not always. In the state of Florida, trainers have “the same rights and privileges with respect to access to public facilities and the same liability for damage as is provided for deaf or hard of hearing or blind or mobility-impaired persons accompanied by dog guides or service dogs.”