Why Use Service or Companion Animals

While a disability may be a fact of life, it should not be the focus of a person's existence. A service animal can help enhance the quality of life and independence for people with disabilities.

What We Do

Help-Your-Self does not provide trained service animals. We help you find, train, interact with, solve problems, and continue to enjoy your relationship with your furry animal companion. We provide the following service:

  • We help our clients assess their needs.
  • We collaborate with several professional animal training centers.
  • We help our clients communicate with the training centers.
  • We follow-up with our clients and offer opportunities for them to meet and interact with other service animal owners.
  • We provide information on certified animal behaviorists, trainers and training methods.
  • We help find suitable animals to match with clients' needs.
  • We offer resources on funding.
  • We offer resources on appropriate techniques of training.
  • We help our clients understand if they are misguided by incorrect information.
  • We offer our clients up to date information on animal compliance and ADA.
  • We help our clients solve conflicts related to animal access into business.
  • We help match volunteers with owners who need assistance.

What the Law Says

The U.S. Department of Justice, charged with regulating the ADA act, 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 animals meet this definition, they are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified.

If a business is not certain of the status of an animal, they may ask the user if the animal is required because of a disability. However, people do not usually carry documentation proving their disability, therefore such documentation is not required as a condition for accessing an establishment with a service animal. Businesses may not insist on proof of certification. Service animals must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of facilities where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

Businesses may exclude any service animal from their facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the safety of others: any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other customers may be excluded. Businesses may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually. U.S. Department of Justice 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

What Service and Companion Animals Do

Most commonly, service animals are dogs, but other animals used are monkeys, parrots, ferrets, cats, rabbits, pot bellied pigs, and miniature horses. A service animal is not a pet. Service animals help perform some of the functions and tasks that individuals with a disability have difficulty with or cannot perform for themselves. Guide dogs, commonly referred to as 'seeing eye dogs', are one type of service animal used by some individuals who are blind or with low vision. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other types of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples of service animal functions are:

  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to dangers and sounds such as their name being called, a baby crying, someone knocking at the door, fire alarms, alarm clocks, directional location alerts, and danger they might otherwise not hear.
  • Helping a wheelchair-user by pulling the wheelchair, carrying and picking up objects, opening doors or calling for help.
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments to get dressed, pushing buttons, or even dialing a phone number.
  • Assisting persons with limited balance due to various mobility impairments including disabilities, accidents, stroke, and arthritis.
  • Alerting and assisting persons with seizures or anxiety.
  • Companionship and emotional support for persons with hidden or invisible disabilities including learning, intellectual, emotional and cognitive disabilities.
  • Guiding visually impaired persons by navigating obstacles, finding available empty seats, and opening doors. A guide dog works as a partner with their handler: the individual gives the dog a command, then the dog makes the determination whether or not this is a safe command to follow.

Service Animal Links

Here below are several website links of interest provided for information purposes only. We are familiar with the good reputation that these organizations hold. However, Help-Your-Self does not endorse or solely recommend one organization over another. If you would like more details about our choice of organizations please contact us. The information is divided into six categories:

  1. Associations
  2. Service assistance dogs
  3. Guide dogs
  4. Training / Testing
  5. Legal / Advocacy
  6. Health / Funding

1. Associations

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners IAADP is an association that works with and aids individuals with disabilities in the process of owning an assistance animal.

Assistance Dogs International ADI is an association that offers information on the utilization, placement, and training of assistance dogs.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants IAABC provides national and international information on animal behavior practice and consultants.

Pet Partners is a well known national organization that offers information and networking opportunities for trainers, users, and organizations.

U.S. DHS Transportation Security Administration guidelines for travelers with service animals.

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, ADA and Service Animals.

2. Service Assistance Dogs

Fidos For Freedom is a local organization that provides and trains therapy and assistance dogs. They are known throughout the DC/MD/VA area.

Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs is a local DC/MD/VA organization that provides and trains carefully selected assistance and social/therapy dogs.

Susquehanna is a local organization that trains and provides assistance and hearing dogs. They are known for their innovative approach and behavior management training.

Dogs For The Deaf, Inc. is an organization that trains dogs that are adopted.

Canine Companions For Independence is a large training and placement school for assistance dogs that prides itself for its ongoing client support.

Paws With a Cause is a large organization that trains and provides assistance dogs nationally.

Freedom Service Dogs is an organization that rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to assist people with disabilities.

NEADS - Dogs For The Deaf and Disabled Americans NEADS trains and provides hearing and assistance dogs. They are the oldest continuing hearing dog program in the U.S.

Service dog Directory is a large list of recognized training centers for assistance dogs.

3. Guide Dogs

Guide Dogs For The Blind is a large west-coast organization that provides trained guide dogs.

The Seeing Eye is the country's pioneer dog guide school founded in 1929.

Guiding Eyes For The Blind is an internationally recognized guide dog school.

4. Training / Testing

C & C Pals Is an organization that specializes in behavior modification. They provide classes, one-on-one sessions, and they teach people how to train their dogs.

ADI Test this organization provides a Public Access Test which is useful for any dog owner.

Capital Dog Training Club of Washington DC Is a local DC/MD/VA organization that provides many animal training opportunities.

PAWS Is a working dog evaluation test

PAT Is a puppy aptitude test

Working Dog Web Ring Is a web portal for many types of fun activities and training options for all dogs.

5. Legal / Advocacy 

ADA Nation akl Network this organization's goal is to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability when being accompanied by a service animal.

Advocacy for accessibility IAADP aids in advocacy issues that pertain specifically to the animal assistance community.

6. Health / Funding 

Canine Health Information Center provides an extensive amount of up to date animal health information that enables animal owners to effectively breed and/or own healthy dogs.

IAADP provides financial assistance opportunities for ill service animals.

Best Friends provides financial aid for non-routine veterinary care.

The Pet Fund provides financial assistance to animal owners who are otherwise unable to afford expensive veterinary care.

non-routine veterinary care.

The Pet Fund provides financial assistance to animal owners who are otherwise unable to afford expensive veterinary care.