Service Animals at UMHB

By Kailyn Strain Service animals can be spotted anywhere in public with their handler, a person with a disability, to assist them when they need to. Many people are confused as to what a service animal is and how to interact with them. A service dog, defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA’s “Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA,” is as follows: “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.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” A task is a specific command that the animal is trained to do to help the person with a disability. The ADA does not require service animals to be professionally trained or to need them to have any identification, and service animals must be given access no matter the establishment that is open to the public. Service animals must behave well in public, and if not, businesses are legally allowed to remove them if they are showing the following behaviors: aggression, excessive barking, no longer under control and relieving themselves in public. Businesses can only ask two questions, according to ADA and its website at https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html The two questions that can be asked are under the General Rules section, where it states:  “In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific 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. Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.” Behavior is the one telling sign that a dog is a legitimate service dog.  Here at UMHB, we have several dogs on campus that assist their handlers on daily tasks. Cassidy Menard, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary education and her service dog Blue, have been together for almost two years. Blue is a hearing dog and is trained to assist Menard by alerting her to specific sounds. These sounds include her phone ringing, a tornado siren and a fire alarm. Blue has three different cues she gives to Menard for each different sound. In general, Menard would like the student body to know the following: “It is safe to assume that you cannot pet service dogs,” Menard said, “but I would rather you ask me before trying to pet her. The same goes for talking to her; you...

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