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What are the laws on service animals?

I have epilepsy (recently diagnosed), and want to get a service dog. What are the laws on training them yourself (the cost of purchasing one is too expensive)? I live in an apartment, and want to make sure that with a doctor's note from my neurologist saying I need a service animal and me training the dog that would be okay legally for a landlord. I was reading somewhere with the ADA that a service animal doesn't have to be professionally trained, you can train them yourself. Anyone have experience with this?

2 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I have an owner trained service dog for syncope and seizures.

    First, if you want a medical alert dog, you can't train that. It's a natural ability that the dog either can or can not do. Once you know if the dog has the ability, you train the dog in the manner that you want them to alert (do you want them to paw you, bump you, lick you?) What programs train are medical response dogs. They go and get meds, protect a person having a seizure, get help, etc...

    Yes, it is very legal to obtain your own dog and train them yourself. In the US, service dogs are not certified or registered.'s not that easy. First, service dogs in training are not covered under the ADA. They are covered under state laws and each state is different. Some states grant public access to anyone training a service dog, some to only certified trainers from recognized schools, some to only trainers from certain types of service dogs, and some not at all. It is possible to train a dog without public access rights. You do it by training exclusively in pet friendly places. Depending on how pet friendly your area is, it will depend on how "easy" is.

    It takes 18 mo - 2 years to fully train a service dog. It is not easy. If you do not have a great deal of experience training dogs, you will have to hire a trainer if you really want to be successful. You will want the trainer to help you pick out the dog as well. Very few dogs have what it takes to be successful as a service dog. It is very expensive to owner train.

    Not all programs are expensive. Paws with a Cause (I think that's it) in Michigan place their dogs at no cost. With the programs that do charge a fee, you can fund raise most to all of the funds.

    There's way more to this than I can explain on Y!A, and I would like to help you. Please feel free to email me.

    ETA: Housing is under the FHA, not the ADA. There are exemptions to the FHA, so depending on your housing situation, your landlord may not have to follow it. Also, it only covers fully trained service dogs and emotional support animals, not service dogs in training.

    Source(s): I am disabled and have an owner trained service dog
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  • 9 years ago

    I'm sorry but you are not going to be allowed to get an accommodation to allow you to bring a dog you hope you will be able to train for this purpose. You can get an accommodation to allow you to bring a trained service animal into your apartment.

    With regard to epilepsy, you have to find a dog that will naturally alert just before you have a seizure. You cannot just acquire a dog and try to teach it to alert. Additionally, a person who is having a seizure does not really have the ability to train the dog on what to do during the actual seizure. This requires a third person to monitor and teach the dog.

    Your landlord would properly and legally refuse your request under these conditions.

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