Friday night, we shared a story about service animals following an incident involving a woman who said she was asked to leave a Sioux Falls restaurant with her dog.
Some of our viewers made us aware of errors that we regret. Saturday, we sat down with an expert in the field to help us set the record straight.
Jess Thovson owns 'Dog Training by Jess' out of Tyler, Minnesota. In addition to a long list of creative credentials in the field, she works as an independent contractor helping trained service dogs get acquainted to their new homes.
"One of the service dogs I work with hits elevator buttons, picks things up, the list is really big with what they can do," Jess Thovson said.
Her rescued lab Max isn't a service dog but wanted to join us for this interview. There aren't many service dogs in the rural areas but the ones that are, she says, undergo years of thorough training. No licensing or certification is required once training is complete, which can be a common misconception when certain web sites, legitimate or otherwise, lead you to believe they are necessary to make your dog look the part.
"There's no ID needed for a service dog like that. Nobody knows what training they have. People go into the store, flash the ID. Then the next person, with a legitimate service dog comes in, the store owner might say 'the last guy had an ID, where's yours?'. They don't need one That makes it harder for them to get access," Thovson said.
According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, no ID or certificate is required for service dogs. But businesses have the right to briefly verify.
"They can ask 'is it a service dog?' and 'what is it trained to d?' They don't have to show them, or prove a disability. They can say the dog helps me to this and that's the end of it as far as whether it's a real service dog or not," she said.
Thovson says service dogs do great work and should never be mistaken with dogs of lesser training, or credibility.
"People aren't really exposed to service dogs, whereas you go to a bigger city, more people are aware of them. People don't know what to expect, what they should/shouldn't do, more education is needed on the subject," Thovson said.
We thank Jess Thovson for allowing us to clarify the information.