Make Your Dog a "Service Dog,"
Not an "Emotional Support Animal"
For Students With Debilitating Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, and Other Psychiatric Disabilities Who Need to Bring a Service Dog to Class
Photo Credit: FoundAnimals.org
". . . nearly 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed in the prior year that it was difficult for them to function, and 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period, according to an American College Health Association survey of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools" (Time Magazine) Read Full Article >>
SERVICE DOGS CAN HELP
CAN MY EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG BECOME
A SERVICE DOG?
Many emotional support dogs can be trained to become service dogs by learning to perform work that assists the student with a psychiatric disability, such as debilitating anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and others. Here are examples of tasks your dog could learn.
Service dogs can enter classrooms with students, escort them through crowds, accompany them through a parking garage, enter public buildings, or sit with them in a library--places where debilitating anxiety can occur. That way, everyone can benefit--the student has a chance of success and the university retains the student.
IF A DOG CALMS ME DURING AN ANXIETY ATTACK, IS IT A SERVICE ANIMAL?
"It depends," according to the U.S. Department of Justice FAQ (Question #4). "The ADA makes a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals. If the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal. However, if the dog's mere presence provides comfort, that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA."
WHAT IS A SERVICE DOG AND WHERE CAN IT GO?
A "service animal" is a dog (or miniature horse) that has been trained (by anyone) to perform a task for a person with a disability, such as debilitating anxiety or depression (for example, caused by PTSD and other psychiatric conditions (see ADA Requirements for Service Animals).
Service dogs are permitted by federal law to go nearly anywhere the public is allowed--for example, in class, public buildings, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, hospitals, etc. (with few exceptions). No professional training or certification is required. However, a lot of training time is usually needed for the public control and tasks of a service dog,. In contrast, "emotional support animals" do not have to perform a task and are only permitted by law in housing and on plane flights.
Hi, I'm Juliet Davis, a faculty member at The University of Tampa. This is my service dog "Jesse Jane," at a Tampa Bay Women's March. I meet a lot of students who are experiencing disabling anxiety and depression caused by PTSD and other psychiatric conditions. PTSD can result from the trauma of military service, sexual assault, and many other circumstances common among college-aged students. The impact can be profound. I created this website to answer questions my students often ask about service dogs.
While I hired a professional to conduct a lot of my dog's training, many people can't afford that. So I thought I would share things I learned along the way that might be helpful to others--particularly students who feel they need a service dog or already have Emotional Support Animals that could be further trained as service dogs. I'm not an ADA expert or professional trainer, so I had to do a lot of research, some of which is collected and shared here.
Having a service dog is important in places that can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. Before I had a service dog, I was often not able to go to crowded places, including public events, social functions, large classrooms, graduation ceremonies, malls, large restaurants, weddings, etc. I'm also terrified of parking garages (where I sometimes do have to park), and have ADHD (which often accompanies PTSD). Jesse Jane has provided a sense of safety and can alert me before the onset of a panic attack or assist me during one. Jesse also helps me focus and stay on task during stressful times.