|Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Breeds Does SSD Use?
We generally use dogs from larger breeds that were developed to work closely with humans, such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Dobermans, and German Shepherds. Mixed breeds of these and other types of large breed dogs are also very well suited for becoming one of our Mobility Service Dogs. While there are many Service Dogs of smaller breeds, including the tiny Papillon, Shore Service Dogs prefers to work with breeds that have the strength and size to have the option of being used for either bracing or assisting with pulling wheelchairs.
Which Is Better For A Service Dog, Male Or Female?
Both sexes are equally suited to be a Service Dog. While some programs prefer to work with a certain gender due to size, strength, and other factors, Shore Service Dogs has found the dog itself is the deciding factor, not what sex it is. All of our dogs are neutered before placement so their working behavior will not be affected by hormonal changes.
What Temperament Qualities Do Service Dogs Need?
We look for intelligent dogs that have a strong desire to please, are curious and bold enough to adapt to new situations, have a calm public demeanor, exhibit no extreme displays of aggression, and have the ability to easily form affectionate bonds with humans.
Will You Train My Personal Dog?
Yes. If your dog passes our extremely rigorous evaluation and health standards, and would fit your disability needs, we will consider training your dog to become your Service Dog. Please realize though, that while your dog may be the best pet ever, they might not make a good Service Dog for you.
How Long Does the Training Take?
As Shore Service Dogs specializes in using Rescues, we do not put our dogs through a puppy foster program to socialize them prior to Service Dog training. Many of our dogs are already past their first year and have rarely been in a house let alone part of a formalized family. As such, SSD trains each dog from the ground up which averages about 1.5 to 2 years (depending on the dog's emotional maturity and learning ability and the complexity of tasks needed).
Are the Dogs Taught to Protect?
A Service Dog must show good manners in all the public places they go with their partners, therefor ours have been specially trained to not become aggressive unless their partner is obviously being attacked. This is to ensure that should their partner require medical assistance, that the dog would not hinder the paramedics, police, or doctors from doing their jobs. Many times though, the dog's size and confident demeanor will deter those intent on harming their partner. While they are very capable of protecting their partners should the need arise, these dogs are trained as Assistance Dogs, not attack dogs.
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Do Service Dogs Ever Get "Time Off" Or Playtime?
Positively and absolutely! Just as it is important for us to have down time, so it's the same with these hard working canines. They relish their play times during their off duty hours but they are also very dedicated to their jobs when it's time to work. People occasionally think they look “sad” or “depressed” when they're working in public but that is actually the exact opposite case. They are just doing their jobs of being quiet and helpful but they are definitely enjoying every minute of the Service Dog benefits of being with their partners at all times.
Is it Okay to Pet a Service Dog?
Service Animals working in public should never be petted without asking permission first because it could distract them from their focus on their partner. An ill timed desire by the dog to go visit and play could easily result in a controlled pulling of a wheelchair to quickly become an out of control chariot race with disastrous consequences! These dogs undergo extensive socialization with humans which requires them to be petted and interacted with but it is vitally important that they learn when and where that's acceptable. So if you see a Service Animal on duty, even though they may be absolutely adorably cute, just go ahead and ignore them so that they can continue with their important job for their partner.
Can I Offer Service Dogs People Food?
ABSOLUTELY NO! Service dogs accompany their owners into restaurants and grocery stores and it's vitally important that they do not show any interest in eating people food. By feeding them food you can cause years of training to be compromised. Additionally, these dogs are on specialized diet programs to keep them in top shape to help their partners. Feeding them people food can make them sick, overweight and in some cases can kill them. NEVER EVER try to tempt a dog with a treat. What you think is being nice to them is actually causing a great deal of harm both to the dog and it's training and their disabled partner!
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What Type Of Disabilities Do You Serve?
We serve people with many types of mobility impairments, from arthritis and heart conditions to paraplegics and those with debilitating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. Many people would like a service dog but feel "there are people more disabled than me". Just as there are many different levels of disabilities, there are Service Dogs with different abilities. We don't look at the severity of a disability to determine need for a service dog; we merely look at the person's specific requirements and what type of dog would best assist them.
How Long Does it Take the Recipient to Learn How to Use the Dogs Commands & Skills?
The recipient and the dog undergo a very intense 3-4 weeks of carefully supervised, “partnership training” to teach the new recipient how to correctly work with the dog. This time also gives the two of them the opportunity to develop the life-long bond they will experience as they become a working team. During this period SSD will work closely with the pair to fine tune their working experience. Upon completion of the team training, if both partners successfully pass their certification test, they will graduate on to become a fully certified Service Dog team. Click here to learn more about the certification test that our teams would undergo.
How Long Can These Dogs Serve?
There is no mandatory retirement age. Much of it depends on the type of work the dog does for the individual and the health of the dog. As an example, a dog that works with a power wheelchair will generally have a longer working life than one that physically pulls a manual wheelchair. While some dogs can work upwards of 11 years, the average expected working span is approximately 7 years. Many people will start the process of getting on a waiting list for a new Service Dog before their canine partner must be retired so that they don't have to go without help. Usually, unless there is a personality issue between the senior Service Dog and the new one, the senior will live out the rest of its days as a revered and beloved family pet.
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How Do I Recognize A Service Dog?
Many Service Dogs wear a harness or backpack with a patch identifying them as a "Working Service Dog". If you are not sure, ask the person.
Can a Service Dog Go Anywhere a Guide Dog Can Go?
Yes!! The January 1, 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides public access for service dogs as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. Maryland statutes grant service dogs in training the same access and full legal rights as a fully certified dog. If you are a business or are working at a business, please note that it is ILLEGAL to refuse admittance to a Service Dog and their partner (and in some states, a Service Dog in training and their trainer). To learn more about how you and/or your business can avoid a costly mistake, click here for the Federal Laws, and click here for Maryland State Laws pertaining to Service Animals.
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How Long Is The Waiting List For Service Dogs?
It varies by each organization, but generally due to SSD’s tailored training of each dog for the specific personal requirements of the applicant, the waiting period for one of our dogs is twenty four to thirty months. This allows us to get to know the applicant and their needs, in order to select the perfect canine for their physical disability and custom train their dog to allow for increased independence and quality of life.
What is the Cost of Raising/Training a Service Dog?
Due to the intensive and specialized custom training, medical care/evaluation, boarding, and replacement insurance involved, SSD’s dogs are higher in cost than some other training facilities. Of course each dog is different as to the speed of its learning but on average, it would cost approximately $30,000 to $49,000 for these highly trained dogs. It must be kept in mind that these are not “cookie cutter” dogs that have been pre-trained a set group of tasks and *then* placed with a previously unknown partner. Each of these dogs have been specially chosen and customized for their future partner's needs and come with an intensive team training session so that the partnership has the greatest chance of success. We feel that this tailor-made approach works best for both the dog and the disabled individual and we strive to provide that extra personal touch in this incredibly important event in their lives.
What Does it Cost to Receive a Service Dog?
Shore Service Dogs are provided on a sliding cost scale to individuals with disabilities but a Service Dog is just as important an investment in independence as a specially outfitted vehicle. In many ways, Service Dogs are much more versatile and valuable, as they are with you where ever you go and at all times, not just when you drive. Just as with other mobility aids, a Service Dog is an investment that is not insignificant but will repay their partner many times over during their working career.
We highly encourage the prospective partner to initiate their own fundraising to help offset the fundraising SSD does to assist with the cost of their future dog. These dogs are an important investment and the dedication of the individual in obtaining their new Service Dog generally reflects the success of their partnership once they become a team. Please bear in mind that there are additional personal costs to be factored in during the team training stage of the placement (i.e. hotel, travel, etc.). Fortunately the time involved in custom training the prospective partner's dog allows ample time for raising the necessary funds.
One factor that a prospective partner needs to know is that they *ABSOLUTELY MUST* be able to provide for the dog's emotional, physical, and financial needs throughout the dog's relationship with them. In addition, the applicant must also be able to provide a stable and secure living environment. While our goal is to provide a partnership for these hardworking and wonderful canines, we care greatly that the home and partner that they go to is the best for them and we will not knowingly place them at risk to be neglected, abused, or otherwise treated to anything less than the best of care. After-all, they're dedicating their lives to helping a person in need, they deserve the best possible life to reward them for all their hard work helping others.
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How Does the Recipient Take Care of the Dog?
While these amazing dogs can easily be mistaken as just lovable goofy pets when they're off duty, they are a very important and valuable tool for their disabled partner and as such needs the proper care to keep them in top shape as long as possible. While the analogy isn't perfect, they could almost be considered to be a very valuable performance car. As such they would need annual tune-ups, emergency repairs if needed, lots of TLC to keep them looking and running great, and insurance to cover those unexpected occurrences in life. There are resources to assist Service Dogs with their medical expenses but the disabled individual who is looking to get a Service Dog must realize and be able to afford and provide the proper care for these special animals. They've worked long and hard to learn how to help their human partner, they deserve the best for that dedication.
Who Retains Ownership Of The Dog When It Is Placed?
For a dog provided by Shore Service Dogs, the graduate signs a contract with SSD, but does retain ownership of the dog as long as the contractual obligations are met. These include that the dog is properly being cared for and that the graduate is adhering to the follow-up and certification policies. Failure to abide by the contract will result in immediate return of the dog and may result in legal action and costs.
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From the US Department of Justice's website:
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SERVICE ANIMALS IN PLACES OF BUSINESS
1. Q: What are the laws that apply to my business?
A: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.
2. Q: What is a service animal?
A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.
Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:
Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.
A service animal is not a pet.
3. Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?
A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.
4. Q: What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my business?
A: The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.
5. Q: I have always had a clearly posted "no pets" policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow service animals in?
A: Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your "no pets" policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your "no pets" policy altogether but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.
6. Q: My county health department has told me that only a seeing eye or guide dog has to be admitted. If I follow those regulations, am I violating the ADA?
A: Yes, if you refuse to admit any other type of service animal on the basis of local health department regulations or other state or local laws. The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and so it takes priority over the local or state laws or regulations.
7. Q: Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals into my business?
A: No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities if a service animal causes damage so long as it is the regular practice of the entity to charge non-disabled customers for the same types of damages. For example, a hotel can charge a guest with a disability for the cost of repairing or cleaning furniture damaged by a service animal if it is the hotel's policy to charge when non-disabled guests cause such damage.
8. Q: I operate a private taxicab and I don't want animals in my taxi; they smell, shed hair and sometimes have "accidents." Am I violating the ADA if I refuse to pick up someone with a service animal?
A: Yes. Taxicab companies may not refuse to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their service animals than they charge to other persons for the same or equivalent service.
9. Q: Am I responsible for the animal while the person with a disability is in my business?
A: No. The care or supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. You are not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.
10. Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?
A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.
Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.
11. Q: Can I exclude an animal that doesn't really seem dangerous but is disruptive to my business?
A: There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate a service animal--that is, when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities. But when it does, for example, when a dog barks during a movie, the animal can be excluded.
If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, you may call the U.S. Department of Justice's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).
DUPLICATION OF THIS DOCUMENT IS ENCOURAGED.
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MARYLAND STATUTES (Article Deaf, Mute or Blind - (g30) - Section 33)
Online Source for Maryland's Code and Court Rulings on Service Dogs.
Article - Deaf, Mute or Blind
(a) It is the policy of this State to encourage and enable the blind or the visually handicapped and the deaf or hearing impaired to participate fully in the social and economic life of the State and to engage in remunerative employment.
(b) It is the policy of this State that the blind or visually handicapped and the deaf or hearing impaired shall be employed in the State service, the service of the political subdivisions of the State, in the public schools, and in all other employment supported in whole or in part by public funds on the same terms and conditions as the persons not so handicapped, unless it is shown that the particular handicap prevents the performances of the work involved.
(c) The blind or the visually handicapped and the deaf or hearing impaired have the same right as the persons not so handicapped to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, public facilities, and other public places.
(d) (1) The blind or the visually handicapped and the deaf or hearing impaired are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, streetcars, boats or other public conveyances or modes of transportation, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodations, amusement, or resort, or other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable to all persons.
(2) A blind or visually handicapped pedestrian using a service dog and not carrying a cane predominantly white or metallic in color (with or without a red tip); or a deaf or hearing impaired pedestrian using a service dog not wearing an orange license tag or orange collar and on a leash; or a blind or visually handicapped pedestrian or a deaf or hearing impaired pedestrian using a service dog in any of the places, accommodations or conveyances listed in paragraph (1) of this subsection; or a service dog trainer accompanied by a dog that is being trained as a service dog displaying the identification required by subsection (l) of this section, has all the rights and privileges conferred by law upon any other person.
(3) The failure of a blind or visually handicapped pedestrian to carry a cane predominantly white or metallic in color (with or without a red tip) or a deaf or hearing impaired pedestrian to use a service dog wearing an orange license tag, orange collar and on a leash, or to use a service dog in any of the places, accommodations, or conveyances listed in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be held to constitute contributory negligence per se.
(e) Nothing in this section modifies or alters the provisions of § 21-511 of the Transportation Article as to the right-of-way of blind or deaf or hearing impaired pedestrians crossing highways.
(f) Every blind or visually handicapped person or deaf or hearing impaired person has the right to be accompanied by a service dog, especially trained for the purpose, in any of the places listed in paragraph (1) of subsection (d) of this section, without being required to pay an extra charge for the service dog; however, the person is liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by the service dog.
(g) (1) Any person or persons, firm, or corporation, or the agent of any person or persons, firm, or corporation, who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the public facilities enumerated in this section, or otherwise interferes with the rights of a blind or visually handicapped person or a deaf or hearing impaired person under this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $500 for each offense.
(2) In addition to any other remedy provided under this Code for a violation of this article, any individual, firm, or corporation, or the agent of any individual, firm, or corporation, who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the public facilities enumerated in this section, or otherwise interferes with the rights of a blind or visually handicapped person or a deaf or hearing impaired person under this section, may be subject to a civil action for injunctive relief.
(h) Each year the Governor shall take suitable public notice of October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. He shall issue a proclamation in which he comments upon the significance of the white cane; calls upon the citizens of the State to observe the provisions of the White Cane Law and to take precautions necessary to the safety of the visually handicapped; reminds citizens of the State of the policies with respect to the blind and urges the citizens to cooperate in giving effect to them; emphasizes the need of the citizens to be aware of the presence of visually handicapped persons in the community and to keep safe and functional for the blind or visually handicapped the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public accommodations, public buildings, public facilities, other public places, amusement and resort, and other places to which the public is invited; and offers assistance to the blind or visually handicapped person upon appropriate occasions.
(i) (1) Blind or visually handicapped persons shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or compensation in the State of Maryland, subject to the conditions and limitations established by law, or State or federal regulations, and applicable to all persons alike.
(2) "Housing accommodations" means any real property, or portion thereof, which is used or occupied or is intended, arranged, or designed to be used or occupied, as the home, residence, or sleeping place of one or more human beings, but does not include any accommodations, included within paragraph (1) of this subsection, or any single family residence, the occupants of which rent, lease, or furnish for compensation not more than one room therein.
(3) Nothing in this section requires any person renting or leasing housing accommodations to modify his property in any way or provide a higher degree of care for a blind person or visually handicapped person, than for a person who is not blind or visually handicapped.
(4) Every blind or visually handicapped person or deaf or hearing impaired person who has a service dog, or who obtains a service dog, or who may wish to obtain a service dog, is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations provided for in this section. Blind or visually handicapped persons or deaf or hearing impaired persons shall not be required to pay extra compensation for service dogs, however the person may be liable for any damages done to the premises or facilities by the service dog.
(j) (1) In this section, "mobility impaired person" means a person who is unable to carry objects or to move or travel about without the use of an assistive device or service dog.
(2) (i) A mobility impaired person may be accompanied by a service dog especially trained for the purpose in any place where a blind or visually handicapped or deaf or hearing impaired person has the right to be accompanied by a service dog.
(ii) A mobility impaired person accompanied by a service dog as described under this subsection may not be required to pay extra compensation for the service dog, however the mobility impaired person may be liable for any damages to the premises or facilities caused by the service dog.
(3) This section does not require any physical modification of any place or vehicle in order to admit a mobility impaired person accompanied by a service dog.
(4) Any person who denies or interferes with the admittance of a service dog accompanying a mobility impaired person is subject to the same penalties as provided in subsection (g) of this section for the denial or interference with the admittance of a service dog accompanying a blind or visually handicapped or deaf or hearing impaired person.
(k) (1) In this subsection, "service dog trainer" means a person who trains service dogs for blind or visually handicapped persons, deaf or hearing impaired persons, or mobility impaired persons.
(2) (i) Except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, a service dog trainer may be accompanied by a dog that is being trained as a service dog in any place where a blind or visually handicapped, deaf or hearing impaired, or mobility impaired person has the right to be accompanied by a service dog.
(ii) A service dog trainer accompanied by a dog that is being trained as a service dog may not be required to pay extra compensation for the service dog; however, the service dog trainer organization that certifies the service dog may be liable for any personal injuries or damages to the premises or facilities caused by the service dog.
(3) A dog being trained as a service dog accompanied by a service dog trainer may be excluded from any of the places described in this section if the admission of the dog would create a clear danger of a disturbance or physical harm to a person in the establishment.
(4) Subject to paragraph (3) of this subsection, any person who denies or interferes with the admittance of a dog being trained as a service dog accompanied by a service dog trainer is subject to a fine not to exceed $25 for each offense.
(l) A blind or visually handicapped or deaf or hearing impaired or mobility impaired person accompanied by a service dog or service dog trainer accompanied by a dog that is being trained as a service dog shall display identification issued by a service dog trainer organization which trains and certifies service dogs for the disabled.