We want to encourage education and compliance with the law as well as the importance of training and the behavior of your animal — and yourself. Remember, you and your Service Dog may be the first team that someone ever meets. It is up to you to make sure that you leave them with an excellent impression.
Most members of the public, and even some Service Dog handlers, do not fully understand the many complexities of Service Dog ownership across the country. Many believe that there is or should be “documentation” or “certification” for Service Dogs even though both things have been specifically called out under federal law as being not only unnecessary, but improper to require. Others come up with their own ideas of what makes up a proper Service Dog team, setting rules that exist outside of the law. We were designed as an attempt to develop a solution — without putting undue burden on rural, limited income or otherwise disabled individuals — to the following concerns:
1. There should be a free option for Service Dog teams to voluntarily accept a specific set of community-defined training and behavior standards that go above the law and beyond the basic foundations of a Public Access Test.
Federal law states: “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff (or members of the public) may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”
In other words, it is not required that Service and Assistance Dog teams show or have identification in the form of a vest, special harness, training certificate or registration and nor is it required that animals are officially trained, certified or registered with any state, federal or independent organization.
Why? In a nutshell, the ADA is a civil rights law designed level the playing field for disabled people so that they can move about their communities similar to able-bodied people — it is not a method for testing or policing the disabled community — of which Service Dog teams are only a small part.
While it is not our purpose or mission to debate the law, some members of the Service Dog community felt that there should be an option for those who wish to voluntarily and knowingly comply with not only the law, but also publicly sign an agreement detailing an additional set of training and behavior standards. Quite simply, we are an extra step that goes above and beyond the law. We do not advertise. We do not ask anyone to register and sign our training and behavior standards agreement. Those who choose to register with us are voluntarily holding themselves up to the standards we describe.
2. Readily available Service Dog vests, harnesses, patches that can be found with generic wording like “Service Dog” or “Do Not Pet” leave little accountability.
Most individuals who are partnered with a Service Dogs use vests, harnesses or patches that display generic wording like “Service Dog” or “Do not pet.” Others may choose to use use generic IDs that are not linked to any organization. While this is traditional, it leaves little accountability and these items are sometimes purchased by those who use them to abuse the law — even though absolutely NO gear or IDs are required in the first place. Like with any product, it is not the fault of the item itself or those who make it. The sole responsibility lies with the person who seeks it out and uses it improperly.
3. There should be method, based on evidence, to recall a team for inappropriate behavior.
We, nor a Service Dog training organization, nor a private trainer, nor any federal or local law nor God himself can prevent an individual from doing the wrong thing. We are designed as a method for trainers to recall graduates or address concerns with those who either willfully abuse the law, have improperly trained or poorly trained dogs or who themselves behave in a manner unbecoming of a Service Dog team. Anytime someone claims they have registered with us (online or in the real world), displays a USSDR patch, shares their ID number or displays ID, they should be prepared that we will be notified — especially if they do not present themselves or their animal properly, they or their animal behaves in an unbecoming manner, misquote the law or the purpose of our service. Simply registering with us does not qualify an animal or an individual as a Service Dog Team or provide any special rights, legal or otherwise. If someone found not to comply with our training or behavior standards we can remove or suspend their registration rendering any materials they have, regardless if they have been ordered from us or made at home, invalid.
Registering a dog does not make a dog a Service Dog — it allows someone to hold themselves to a community defined standard.
The USSDR hopes to help encourage adherence to the law by requiring their Registrants to understand that intentionally misrepresenting an animal as Service or Assistance Animal for any reason is not only unethical, it is also illegal and may be punishable by fines or imprisonment. All of our Registrants are required pass through our Educational Gateway and read and accept the following:
- What is involved with training and using a Service or Assistance Animal
- How important their behavior, and that of their Service or Assistance Dog, is to the general public and other Service and Assistance Animal teams
- The definition of a Service or Assistance Animal
- The Minimum Training Standards for a Service or Assistance Animal
- What is involved with a Public Access Test
- Our Terms and Conditions
It’s about personal responsibility and accountability.
We believe that each individuals are responsible for their own actions. Registering with us is a formal way of stating that one understands what is involved with training and using a Service or Assistance Animal; how important their behavior, and that of their Service or Assistance Dog, is to the general public and other Service and Assistance Animal teams; the legal definition of a Service or Assistance Animal; the Minimum Training Standards for a Service or Assistance Animal and what is involved with a Public Access Test.
When you register with us you are publicly signing our training and behavior standards agreement. Both you and your dog will be held to this standard, so please consider this fully before registering.
How do we provide self-identification?
Individuals are able to obtain identification in three ways:
- Individuals may choose to keep their disability private by not using a dog vest, ID card or specialty harness. They may provide their free 10 digit ID code only when needed to allow for their registration to be easily viewed online through their Public Profile page.
- Individuals may make their own identification materials and refer back to their Public Profile page by using the free 10 digit code the USSDR provides as long as they do not contain our logo or other trademarked symbols. (If you see others selling items using our logo or symbols, please let us know as they are doing so without our permission).
- Individuals may purchase the professional identification materials we provide.
Based on the input we’ve received from experienced trainers and Service Dog Handlers with conditions ranging from blindness, deafness, autism, psychiatric disabilities, mobility issues and more, this Registry has been designed around six key points:
- A Registry Must Be Free In order to keep the registry open to all, free registration is imperative. Registration is conducted under the honor system and any individual found to violate our Terms and Conditions (which includes misrepresentation of a Service or Assistance Animal) will be expelled from our registry.
- A Registry Must Be Voluntary No one is required to participate in the registry, and we realize registries aren’t for everyone. We welcome all Service and Assistance Dogs and handlers regardless of disability, certification levels, training methods or other affiliations. Please note that Service and Assistance Dogs in training are not recognized by all states. It is your responsibility to learn about and abide by the laws in your state.
- A Registry Must Be Secure and Private The information individuals provide must be kept secure and private at all times. We do not share any personal information with any government agency or any private entity.
- A Registry Must Not Be a Certification Process There are many different types of Service and Assistance Dogs, and each one fulfills a very specific and personal need for its owner. While there are guidelines (qualifying animals must be individually trained to to provide assistance to an individual with a disability) there are not universal standards. Additionally, under the law it would be illegal for us to create and impose standards. The United States Service Dog Registry is not a certification process and Registrant data is based solely on the assertions of the dog owner. Registrants accept full responsibility for the accuracy of their information, their own conduct and the conduct of their animals. Please read our Terms and Conditions. We provide no benefits or protection for our Registrants, legal or otherwise. Protection and benefits are granted by the ADA and local governments.
- A Registry Must Be Independent and Non-Governmental The USSDR is not affiliated with any government agency, Assistance or Service Dog organization.
- A Registry Should Serve as a Method to Recall Untrained or Improperly Trained Teams. Anytime someone claims they have registered with us (online or in the real world), displays a USSDR patch, shares their ID number or displays ID, they should be prepared that we will be notified — especially if they do not present themselves or their animal properly, they or their animal behaves in an unbecoming manner, misquote the law or the purpose of our service. Simply registering with us does not qualify an animal or an individual as a Service Dog Team or provide any special rights, legal or otherwise. If someone found not to comply with our training or behavior standards we can remove or suspend their registration rendering any materials they have, regardless if they have been ordered from us or made at home, invalid.
The United States Service Dog Registry, this website and our materials are provided as a benefit to the Assistance and Service Dog community as a whole. We are built on the trust and good-will of our registrants and the animals that serve them. We are a Registry only and not a certification process or substitute for training. The United States Service Dog Registry can not and will not be held responsible or liable for the actions of individual owners or their dogs in any way, shape or form. All Registrant data is provided at the assertion of the animal owner. Our mission is to serve not only as an educational tool for the public but for Service and Assistance dog owners as well. Misrepresenting an animal as a Service or Assistance Animal for any reason in any way (even if not using this Registry) is a crime. All registrants are subject to our Terms and Conditions.