Q&A: Should retired military dogs be used as service animals?

Question

Many military working dogs (MWDs) are reunited with their handlers when they retire, and they are then called pets. Since the dog goes through intense training, when it is returned to the handler should the handler be using the dog as a PTSD service animal according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

 

- Melissa

Answer

Hi Melissa,
 
Beginning  +March 15, 2011, the regulations for service dogs were updated.
 
A service animal is one that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Those tasks must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  
 
With that said, some of the dogs that served as Military Working Dogs find a second career as service dogs for those with PTSD. Clearly, these are animals that are incredibly talented, trainable, and strongly bonded with their people.  Of course, some returning Military Working Dogs are not service dogs, but they can find a second career as loving family members. As such, we all know they have the ability to provide unrivaled support in the form of companionship and love.
 
Best,
Andrea

About Andrea Arden

Andrea can be seen on Animal Planet's shows Dogs 101, Cats 101, Pets 101, America's Cutest Dog and America's Cutest Cat. She is the author of numerous best-selling books on animal behavior and training. Andrea is thrilled to be a part of Pets for Patriots' efforts to help its members successfully adopt and share their lives with shelter pets! Read more...
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