Do you have a service dog? Then you might be wondering if you need a service dog vest and where you can buy one. Well, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to talk about service dogs, their purpose and where you can find vests for them.
One warning, before we start. Buying a vest for your pet and passing it as a service dog is a federal crime. You can pay a fine, go to jail or the authorities can confiscate your dog. It’s also highly immoral and unfair to real service dogs and their owners.
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Which dogs are service dogs?
Animals are not only pets. They can help us deal with certain medical conditions and make us feel better. We can distinguish three types – service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals.
Service dogs are pets specially trained to perform certain tasks for people with disabilities. And these jobs must be related to the owner’s disability. For example:
- detecting seizures and high/low blood sugar
- perimeter check
- blocking harmful behavior
- visual and hearing assistance
- fetching things
Usually, it takes 18-24 months to fully train a service dog and the owners have the right to train the dogs themselves.
Emotional support dogs are not trained to perform specific tasks. Their purpose is to provide comfort to their owners. They don’t have any special rights.
Therapy dogs also provide emotional support, comfort and affection. These dogs are usually registered through an agency and they visit people in need in hospitals, nursing homes, and school with special permission. When they do their job, they go home with their owner.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, only service animals have the right to accompany their owner in places forbidden for pets in normal circumstances. And while therapy animals are not necessarily always dogs, service animals are only dogs or miniatures horses (in some situations).
The law protects service dogs but this protection doesn’t mean that your dog is allowed to misbehave. If you don’t have your dog under control, the staff has the right to ask you to remove the animal.
Also, you must keep the dog leashed or harnessed unless this will interfere with the dog’s task. In such cases, you must have a very good control over your pet by using your voice, hand signals, etc.
Does your dog need a service dog vest?
Currently, the law doesn’t require that service dogs wear a special vest, ID, tags or identification. And they are allowed to accompany their owners anywhere. When you go in a restaurant, for example, the staff can ask you only two questions:
- Is the dog a service dog?
- What task has the dog been trained to perform?
They can’t inquire about your disability, and they can’t deny you access on the grounds of allergies or fear of dogs.
However, many people choose to buy a service vest for their dog because it makes things easier. People see the vest, and they know that the dog is not an ordinary pet and that it serves a special function. This also resolves potential conflicts in case people get angry that you’re bringing a dog in a restricted area.
On the other hand, some service dog owners choose not to put any identification on their dogs. They don’t want to be labeled as “disable” and see service dog vests as a discriminating symbol.
So, it’s up to you and what you’re comfortable with.
Where can I get a service dog vest?
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Your first stop will be a pet store, where you can check what your options are. The advantage of going to the store is that you can get your dog to try the vest and see if everything fits nicely.
If that’s not an option to you or your pet shop doesn’t offer dog vests, don’t worry. Go online. Many legitimate online stores sell service vests. Don’t look for anything cheap because your dog is going to wear that vest a lot. Pick something made of quality material and with adjustable straps.
I recommend that you talk with your professional dog trainer before you make your purchase. He is the one who can help you find the best service vest for your dog since he has extensive experience in this area. Moreover, if you’re shopping online, you’ll have to take accurate measurements of your dog when ordering a vest. Otherwise, you might end up with something that’s either too small or too big. That’s why someone with experience can be of invaluable assistance.
I hope that you have the answers to your questions and you know a little more about service dogs. They are extraordinary animals, which deserve respect and admiration, no matter if they wear a vest or not.
Did you already buy a service dog vest? Where did you get it? Share your stories or opinion in the comments.