I started working with my first service dog before the American with Disabilities Act was enacted, back in the days when we carried books that outlined what states and cities had what laws in regards to using service dogs. Clearly identifying your dog as a service dog was essential, Colorado for example said a blaze orange harness was an identifier etc. Things became much simpler with the passing of the ADA, but one thing still greatly simplifies your life when out and about with your service dog. That is having it clearly identified as a service animal, either with a vest or harness with appropriate patches on them.
ADA does not require you to identify your dog with patches or harnesses etc, however I have found that lots of questions and challenges are prevented if you do. If you are like me, you want to get on with your life and not have to explain as you go forward. Patches and vests help with that. You still will get an occasional question by some uneducated folks, but in most cases you don’t.
Another good reason for ensuring your service dog is clearly identified is in the event you and your dog get separated, or have an accident etc. authorities can clearly see that your dog is specially trained and handle it as such. You should also ensure your dog is micro-chipped and has identification affixed to its collar. You’re local vet or animal shelter has micro-chipping capabilities, and it is not that expensive for the insurance it provides that if you get separated, your dog can be scanned to see who the rightful owner is.
Another thing I have found handy, is having a few info cards in my wallet to give the uneducated, you can easily make them with cheap card stock from an office supply store and your printer, or purchase bulk packs of preprinted info cards that outline the pertinent ADA guidelines as well as have a toll free phone number for the Department of Justice if a business owner wants to verify things.
With 20 years and 3 different service dogs experience, I probably have had 15 challenges by store owners or security guards, and only one that I had to seek legal remedy with. I attribute a lot of that to always making sure my dog was clearly identified. I put some links to various service dog items below, there are more I am sure, but these will get you started if you need some id for your dog.
[ds title=’Service Dog Patches’ query=”patch | min_price=1 max_price=500 only_merchants=17,18 max_results=100 order_field=p.name”]
[ds title=’Service Dog Cards’ query=”+service +dog +cards -spy | min_price=1 max_price=500 only_merchants=17 max_results=100 order_field=p.display_price”]
[ds title=’Service Dog Vests’ query=”+service +dog +vest | min_price=1 max_price=500 only_merchants=17,18 max_results=100 order_field=p.name”]