Laws, rights, and definitions:
Americans With Disabilities Act Title II Federal law defining and dealing with service dogs. In some states (like California) you may have more rights than ADA grants, but you never have fewer.
Here’s the short version with the ADA FAQ
And here is California’s handy guide to overlapping legal protections for service dogs and emotional support animals in California
Nolo has a helpful explanation of your rights in California and helps clarify the difference between an ESA and a psychiatric service dog:
California doesn’t have a separate definition for “psychiatric service dog,” but a dog that is individually trained to help a person with a mental disability with specific requirements is considered a service dog, and an individual that uses such a dog is entitled to the same rights under the law as someone with a physical disability that uses a service dog. -NOLO
Ask JAN The Job Accommodation Network’s service animal section explains when a service animal is a reasonable accommodation. Whether you work a job or not, the information in this section helps explain when a service animal is a service animal and how to navigate bureaucracy with one.
Sources for finding and training a service dog candidate:
We strongly recommend looking for candidates through dog foster programs or reputable breeders, because both should be able to tell you a lot about the dog’s personality, medical soundness, and tendencies.
Akc.org marketplace is the best place to look for reputable breeders
Petfinder.com and Adoptapet.com are huge resources for finding foster agencies in your area.
Iams Dog Breed Selector Tool is a fantastic resource for you to familiarize yourself with breed traits and tendencies, and figure out which highly trainable breeds who are non-aggressive and not overprotective fit your resources and lifestyle. Poodles, Papillions, and Maltese, as well as some non-aggressive breed terriers are popular small service picks. Labs, golden retrievers, and standard poodles are popular larger breed picks for someone new to training a service dog. More experienced dog owners also may opt for a German shepherd or similar. Feel free to explore the breeds.
No matter which breed you select, the right temperament is vital to service dog success. For this, it’s tough to beat Joan Froling’s guide to temperament testing a service dog candidate.
And remember, this is a life-long commitment to daily reinforcement of your dog’s training.
In our experience, the effort is well worth it for a loyal and furry companion who makes living with a disability significantly less draining.
Got questions? We’re happy to answer them.