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How to recognize a service dog at BC

Vanessa Munoz

Vanessa Munoz

Some students know who Lokie is and have often spotted her around campus sitting shotgun in the back of her handler's bicycle.

Vanessa Munoz, Reporter/ Photographer

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Bakersfield College has seen an increase in enrollments of students with disabilities who use service dogs, many of which have been spotted around campus.

These service dogs and service dogs in training are certified and trained through the Americans with Disabilities Act and have the right to be on campus, however, there has been some confusion when it comes to the difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog.

Terri Goldstein, who is the director of Disabled Students Programs and Services, wants the students and faculty to know the difference when it comes to these service animals. A service dog and a service dog in training are trained to guide a blind person, aid a person who cannot hear, or act as an alarm to a person for many different reasons. An emotional support dog is not certified through the Americans with Disabilities act, they are not trained, and they are not allowed on the campus here at Bakersfield College.

An emotional support dog is just a companion to help a person who feels they have an emotional imbalance that they cannot control. Goldstein stats that anyone can go online and register their pet as an emotional support dog, but aside from housing rights, this does not entitle them or their pet to any of the rights that a service dog would have.

Regular dogs are not allowed on campus either. Bakersfield College does welcome service dogs but does not condone regular housedogs on campus.

Service dogs are hard to recognize but most wear a vest or a square blue tag that says Kern County service dog on it, but they do not have to. Goldstein mentions one noticeable fact, “when it comes to service dogs and service dogs in training they are highly trained to obey their handler and are house broken”.

If you see a dog that is being wild and is not trained then you have the right to ask the handler if their dog is a service dog for a disability and what training does the dog have. If for any reason you feel that a dog is not a service dog, or if you know for a fact that it is not, then you can get a hold of campus police as this is breaking the student code of conduct.

If there are any questions or concerns, Terri Goldstein, whose office is located in Student Services, can assist anyone who is willing to register their service animal.

 

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “How to recognize a service dog at BC”

  1. Rebecca Williams on October 23rd, 2014 12:50 pm

    The following statement by Ms. Munoz is misleading – “These service dogs and service dogs in training are certified and trained through the Americans with Disabilities Act”. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that provides equal opportunities and protections against discrimination for people with disabilities. The ADA does not train service animals nor does the ADA certify that a particular animal has been trained as a service animal.

    The information about emotional support animals was well written and accurate.

  2. Julia Markham on October 24th, 2014 1:25 pm

    This statement is inaccurate on so many levels I am unsure where to begin. First, the ADA is not an organization but a law. SDs are not certified but defined by the ADA as is an ESA. The ADA is administered by the Department of Justice. Please refer to their business brief on public places of accommodation which includes college campuses.

    Second, the handler’s disability must limit one or more major life activity which means an individual with any disability that limits one or more major life activity in an SD.

    Certification and vests are not required. I can’t keep going. There is so much inaccurate information in this statement.

    I am sorry Ms. Goldstein is so horribly incorrect on the information here I suggest her supervisors require her to research and contact the DOJ for proper information on this subject.

    Thank you for your time

  3. Ashley on October 24th, 2014 8:32 pm

    This article is so inaccurate, it should be taken down.

  4. G. Fenix on October 26th, 2014 9:35 pm

    As mentioned in the previous comment, the ADA does not “certify” service dogs. There is *no legally recognized* certification for service dogs. However, the ADA does lay out the requirements for a dog to be considered a service dog (an there are serious penalties for attempting to pass a pet off as a service dog). First and foremost, the handler *must* be disabled (using the definition of disabled provided in the ADA). No amount of training qualifies a dog as a service dog unless it is with a disabled handler. Second, the dog must know a minimum of one *trained* task specific to the handler’s disability (most service dogs know many tasks). And finally, the dog must be under control and housebroken. If any of these conditions are not met, the dog is not a service dog.

    Also, the ADA only requires handlers to answer the two mentioned questions when asked by a business owner or employee while the dog is in that place of business (and these employees/owners are legally restricted to asking *only* those two questions). So while freedom of speech allows anyone in public to ask anything at any time, handlers are not required to interrupt their day to answer questions posed to them by random people.

    As for emotional support animals, you cannot simply “feel like” you need an animal in the home and suddenly claim your pet as an ESA. It requires a doctor’s note. If a note is acquired, an ESA must be allowed in no pets housing and on airlines. They are not required to have any specific training, and are not allowed in any other non-pet areas (such as stores, restaurants, in college classrooms, etc.) There is no legal way to “register” a pet online and make it into an ESA.

    And last but not least, it is not the dogs (service dogs or otherwise) who are granted rights by law, but the people who handle them. A service dog has no rights, but a disabled handler does. Thus, a service dog attempting to enter a store with someone other than its disabled handler is not a service dog in that scenario, and the person with it would be breaking the law. Please get your facts straight when attempting to educate others on the topic of service dogs. Thank you.

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