Service dogs are increasingly becoming popular. Though their main purpose is to help people with disabilities, it’s not unusual to find some people misrepresenting their pets as service dogs to gain access to public places.
This creates a challenge for those with genuine disabilities. It becomes difficult to distinguish between a legitimate service dog and a false one. Therefore, in some situations, you may be required to prove that your dog is a genuine service dog.
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Though this is not a legal requirement, having documentation can save you from unnecessary confrontation. A service dog letter might be the only way to prove that your service dog is authentic.
How can you get a service dog letter from a doctor for use in such cases? Let’s find out how.
What Type of Letter is Required for a Service Dog?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dog registration is not a requirement. The mere possession of registration documents does not make a dog a service dog. And failing to register does not make a service dog any less of a service dog.
This law helps to prevent people from acquiring service dog registration without having a qualifying disability. It also protects the rights of genuine service dog handlers.
Even though it’s not a legal requirement to register service dogs, many people consider it necessary. This is especially the case for people with mental disabilities. A person with a mental disability may look normal from the outside. So there’s no way of telling that they have a disability that makes them need a service dog.
Therefore, you may encounter some difficulties when you take your service dog to a place where dogs are not allowed. In such times, it would be helpful if you had an easier way of proving that your dog is a service dog.
The easiest way to prove your dog is a service dog is by using service dog letters. These letters are written by mental health professionals. They provide evidence that the person bearing the letter has a mental disability, which warrants a service dog.
What does a service dog medical letter contain? Below is an outline of its content.
Contents of Service Dog Letters
Valid service dog letters must be certified by a licensed mental health practitioner. These letters contain a letterhead of the issuer, the handler’s name, date of issue, sign, name, and license information of the issuer.
Service dog letters do not have to indicate the patient’s diagnosis. But they can show what limitations you have and how the service dog helps you. These details explain your condition in a general form without exposing any confidential information.
Since the service dog medical letter shows contact information linked to your medical care provider, any further confirmation required can be made by contacting them.
Once you have a service dog letter from a physician, you do not have to carry it everywhere you go. You only need to carry it for major travels and when visiting places where dogs may not be welcome.
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How Do I Get a Doctor Letter for a Service Dog?
Getting a service dog doctor letter has two basic requirements.
1. Having a qualifying disability
2. Having a dog that’s trained to perform specific tasks related to your disability.
A disability can be physical or mental. Physical disabilities include visual impairment, hearing problems, stroke, muscular dystrophy, among others. Mental disabilities include anxiety, clinical depression, autism, bipolar, phobia, posttraumatic disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and more.
Keep in mind that a temporary disability may not qualify for a service dog. For instance, when a close friend or relative dies, it’s normal to feel depressed. But this depression may be temporary. Qualifying depression and anxiety is long-term and often continues for at least six months.
The first step in getting service dog letters is going through an assessment. This only applies to people with mental disabilities. Physical disability is self-evident and may not require an evaluation.
An assessment is conducted by a licensed mental health professional. Its purpose is to determine whether you have a mental disability that requires the use of a service dog.
If you qualify for a service dog, the next thing is to train your dog to perform tasks or adapt a trained dog. Training is essential since it’s what distinguishes service dogs from other dogs.
Once you have a qualifying disability and a trained service dog, you’ll be issued a service dog letter from your doctor.
Benefits of Service Dog Letters
A service dog handler is not required to produce service dog letters to gain access to public facilities. But if circumstances deem it necessary, service dog letters can be produced. The letter can help to clarify any doubts a person may have concerning the use of the dog.
In case of an unexpected incident where the dog’s handler is taken to court, service dog letters can prove to be extremely helpful. They provide crucial evidence that at the time of the incident, the dog was a service dog. And as such, the dog had the legal right to gain access to public facilities.
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Where Can You Get a Service Dog Letter
A service dog plays a crucial role in the life of a person with a disability. The law protects people with disabilities by allowing them to go with service dogs in all public places. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of these rights and misrepresent their pets as service dogs.
Getting service dog letters is a good way to differentiate yourself from such people. It also makes it easier for others to accommodate you while avoiding too many questions about your disability.
If you’re looking for a service dog letter, ESA Care can help you get one. We have licensed mental health professionals who will evaluate your condition and give you a service dog letter as soon as possible.