What is a Service Dog?

Putnam Service Dogs will train and provide free service dogs and follow-up support services to people with physical disabilities who have demonstrated they, or another person who lives with them, can competently and humanely care for a service dog.

American Disabilities Act’s Definition of Service Dogs

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 defines a service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability. Emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals are not considered service animals under the ADA as they provide comfort just by being with a person but have not been trained to perform a specific job or task to mitigate the effects of a disability. Other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.


Putnam Service Dogs will professionally train their service dogs, but the ADA does not require service animals to be professionally trained. ADA does not require service dogs to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness. Graduated Putnam Service Dogs will wear an identifying vest or harness to assist the public in understanding not to approach the dogs while working.

Certification & Conditions

ADA doesn’t require certification of service dogs, and it’s not required as a condition of entry into restaurants, stores, and other public places dogs are not normally allowed. There are individuals and organizations that sell animal certification or registration online. These documents don’t convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice doesn’t recognize them as proof that a dog is a service animal.


Mandatory registration of service dogs by a city or municipality is not permissible under the ADA. A voluntary registration of service dogs at colleges and other entities, such as local governments, are legal under the ADA. Service dogs are subject to the same licensing and vaccination requirements that are applied to all dogs.


The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals. If a municipality bans certain breeds of dogs, they must make an exception for a service animal of a prohibited breed. A service dog can’t be excluded because of stereotyped fears or beliefs about its breed, but can be excluded if it exhibits problematic behavior, or has exhibited it in the past.

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