Today we learned about Yancy Baer’s unfortunate experience with his service dog at a Starbucks in Houston. As a company committed to outfitting service dog vests and apparel since 1998, we see this as a great learning opportunity for so many.
As deﬁned by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is one that performs a task for the beneﬁt of a person with a disability. A disability can be any physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity. Some disabilities are not visible, such as deafness, epilepsy, diabetes, & psychological conditions.
Assistance dogs not only provide a specific service to their handlers, but also greatly enhance the quality of their lives with a new sense of freedom and independence.
There are three types of Assistance Dogs:
Guide Dogs – for the blind and the visually impaired
Hearing Dogs – for the deaf and hard of hearing
Service Dogs – for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing
Unfortunately, no registration is required by the ADA for service dogs. There is no federal requirement for the dog to wear any special gear or identification. There is also no requirement that the handler carry any certification papers showing that the dog has been trained as a service dog.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no federal registry or certification program for service dogs. United States Service Dog Registry seems to be the most well-known and respected.
Because of the amount of grey space that fills this industry, not all legitimate service dogs are received by the public with the respect they deserve, as we see with Yancy Baer’s story.
SitStay.com is an online retailer that often gets scrutiny for selling service dogs vests to individuals without requiring registration or proof of certification. We can assure you, this is not a business decision, rather a limitation within the service dog industry as a whole. Without having registration requirements from the ADA, we can’t reference a governing database or ask a dog owner for proof of disability - today, that is the law.
It is concerning when we hear stories like the one at Starbucks, however, there is silver lining with occurrences like these to raise awareness and remind us that there is tremendous room for growth in the government, legitimacy and protection of service dogs.