hayley asked in PetsDogs · 7 years ago

Making my dog a service dog?? new jersey?

Well my step mom has a developed a form of anxiety after going thru her kimo and radiation and beating cancer at least for now and has been talkin to her therapist about how the only time she is at ease is with my lab doberman mix... Id like to look into if its possible to get my dog certified for her. I live in nj Idk. If it makes a difference but Idk if I could do it myself or would it have to be preferred by her therapist not sure how it works I jus really want to help her.. would he have to take a class or just a test??

9 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    What you are speaking of is what is known as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). A 'therapy dog' is simply a pet which is taken by its owner to schools, nursing homes, hospitals and such to bring joy and cheer to others. A 'service dog' is trained to mitigate the effects of their handlers disability. Having cancer and going through chemotherapy is not a disability, so she cannot have a service dog.

    To have an ESA in 'no-pets' housing, the person must meet the legal definition of being mentally ill or disabled, be under the continuous care of a professional psychiatrist or psychologist, have an established treatment plan in place for the mental illness, and have the psychiatrist or psychologist make an assertion that the presence of the animal is deemed a necessary part of the ongoing treatment regimen.

    Then the person must file and have approved a "Request for Reasonable Accommodation" with the landlord/manager/owner BEFORE bringing the animal on the premises. The Request should state why the animal is being requested, include the treating psychiatrists or psychologists written affirmation that the animal is part of the persons treatment regimen for their mental illness or disability, and show that the person has the proper levels of liability insurance on the animal being requested.

    You cannot simply have a 'therapist' write a 'note' which will magically allow her to have your dog with her. The handler of an ESA has no public venue access rights with the animal, so that means it is not allowed in stores, theatres, taxis, buses, or anywhere else that a pet dog is not allowed.

    There is also no 'national registry' from which one can have their dog 'certified' from, as every registry currently available is nothing but a scam and a fraud intended to separate stupid people from their money. No one but fakers and scammers use the "ID's" from these registries anyway as they are legally worthless.

    ESA's are also subject to weight and breed limitations. See here for more information:


    Source(s): Husband of blind woman who uses a guide dog.
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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  • 7 years ago

    More to it than taking a class or a test.

    In order for the dog to be a service dog your mom must obtain a professional's written note prescribing the need of a service dog because she is legally disabled in some way AND the dog must be trained to perform a specific task for the handler that would help their day to day life.

    Most pet owners would not be able to train a service dog themselves as it is very time consuming and not very easy, most do not have the knowledge needed to turn their pet into a bomb proof service dog complete with task training. Most pet dogs are not qualified for the work themselves, either.

    And just FYI - your dog would no longer be your dog if you did this, the dog would be a working animal and not a pet.

    Get the note, first. If she truly needs a service dog because her anxiety is truly disabling, the therapist will not hesitate to prescribe it for her. These kind of service dogs are considered psychiatric service dogs. Then contact a local organization for more information on obtaining and/or training a dog for her specific needs.

    If your dog qualifies then you can expect time consuming training (under the guidance of a professional) and even a costly fee. Or, they may tell you that you cannot use your own dog but can obtain one from them. Again, might take time and may be a costly fee.

    Add - Anxiety CAN absolutely be a disability. But it would have to be life threatening and severely crippling in order for any legit therapist to consider a service animal to be a benefit for it. The dog "makes me feel better" sounds less like a disability and more like a "well, i just feel better" thing. In which case you can forget about anyone prescribing a service animal or any organization helping train OR obtain one for you.

    Dog can be an emotional support animal, though, which is just a pet that may be exempt form no pets housing and transport.

    Source(s): Pet Owner
  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    What you are wanting to do is make your dog a therapy dog, not a service dog, there is a difference.

    To get certified as a therapy dog your dog will require training and testing. However since you are just wanting your dog to be a therapy dog for your mom there may actually be something that her therapist can do that can get him listed as a individual companion animal. Mostly it will depend on the laws in your area.

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  • 7 years ago

    Only a person who is considered disabled under ADA standards could be qualified for a service dog. Having a condition, a disorder or even having a Dr stating you're disabled or that you should have a service dog does not override the legal qualifications.

    The second qualification is that there must be a task, that the disabled person is unable to do, on a daily basis, that the dog can be trained to do to mitigate their disability. If a disabled person can turn on lights themselves, that would not be a legitimate task. The trained task must be directly related to and mitigate the disability.

    The third qualification is the dog. The dog must be highly obedience trained, socialized with people and other animals, calm and non aggressive, UTD on vaccines, potty trained and licenced (which is required of all dogs, pets and service dogs alike) BEFORE task training can begin. If you get one from a professional training facility, the wait can be years and for some the costs in the tens of thousands. 

    According to the ADA . . .Definitions under regulatory law, specifically 28CFR36.104:

    "Disability means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment."...and..."mental impairment means -- ... Any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities...[including but not limited to]...mental retardation, emotional illness, [and] specific learning disabilities...."

    "It is not enough to have a mental illness to qualify as a person with a disability under the ADA. According to the NIMH, 26.2% of adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental illness in any given year, but only 6% are severely mentally ill. So more than three quarters of those with a diagnosed mental illness are not disabled by that illness and would not qualify to use a service animal even if they would benefit from one."

    Your mom most likely qualifies for an Emotional Support Animal. These animals give comfort to those in need of support or reassurance by their mere presence. ESA's are not service dogs and are not afforded the same protection or access as service dog teams. They do not have the public access that service dog teams are afforded, but are given special consideration in rental housing and flying on planes. You wouldn't be able to take it to school or restaurants or anywhere pets are not permitted. They are legally considered a pet, just with a few legal accommodations. The only training an ESA needs is obedience and potty trainimg - they don't require the extensive training that service dogs require.

    Here are the steps for having an emotional support animal:

    1. You MUST be mentally disabled or have a mental condition severe enough to be considered disabling.

    2. You MUST be under the ongoing care of a mental health professional. A regular doctor will not do.

    3. Your treating mental health professional must recommend an emotional support animal as beneficial for your ongoing treatment plan.

    4. Your treating mental health professional will write a letter stating you need an ESA for your mental disability, that it's necessary for your ongoing treatment and your disability as it appears in the DSM IV.

    5. Turn this letter in, along with a letter requesting accommodation, to your landlord.

    6. Wait to be approved before bringing the animal onto the property.

    That's it. Your doberman can be her ESA. No special training is needed. But you will be responsible for any damage caused by the animal and the animal cannot be a nuisance to other neighbors. If it is, the accommodation approval can be revoked.

    Not mentally disabled? Then you don't qualify.

    Don't live in rental housing, just get a pet. It's the same thing.

    Just in case you think it'd be harmless to put a vest on a pet stating it's a service dog, the penalty for having a fake service dog or having one while unqualified is Federal Fraud, punishable by high fines, tickets, jail time and confiscation of the dog.

    Also, don't waste your money on the online registrations, certifications or licenses. They're for novelty purposes only, are complete scams, are worthless and won't hold up in the face of the law.

    Here's a few links on info you may want to read:






  • 7 years ago


    service dogs are for people who are legally disabled. They have to be trained to perform a task or function that mitigates a disability.

    Anxiety hardly qualifies one as "disabled"... and because she "feels better" around the dog does not qualify the dog as a service dog either

    The only think she can get is an ESA.. which really is just a pet. Its not allowed anywhere, other than some exceptions may be made for housing that normally is not pet-friendly, and some accomodations are made for airlines

  • 7 years ago

    She can't qualify for a service dog as she is not physically disabled - a service dog would be useless. Service dogs are for people with disabilitys, like somone who has difficulty opening/closing a door, or picking something off the floor that fell, assisting people who are wheelchair bound, etc.

    Anxiety is NOT a physical disability - it's a mental disorder. She could possibly qualify for a therapy dog, but that's a completely Differnet thing. Therapy dogs are NOT allowed in shops, or places where pet dogs aren't alowed either, unlike guide and service dogs which are allowed pretty much anywhere.

    You can't just train the dog yourself either - they will need training by a professional which can be very costly.

    Source(s): Irish Guide & Servive Dog Puppy Raiser.
  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    No you can not, your step mom does not need a service dog.

  • 7 years ago

    Your mom is not legally disabled so she can't have a service dog.

    Anxiety is not a disability so she can't haul the dog around and lie about it being something its now.

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