A service animal is any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to give assistance to a person with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals even if they have not been licensed or certified by a state or local government.
Service animals do things for a person with a disability that they cannot do for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal used by some people who are blind. But there are other service animals that can do lots of things. Some examples are:
- Alerting a person with hearing impairments to sounds
- Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for people using the wheelchair
- Helping people who have mobility impairments with balance
- Helping children with autism by assisting them with social skills, safety issues, and communication.
There is an excellent website through the EnDependence Center of Northern Virginia that can answer many questions you may have about service animals. Information includes your rights and where to find service animals.
- ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, Inc.: Persons with disabilities ENDing Dependence
- Other Resources: