For many people living with physical, mental, and emotional challenges or disabilities, a service dog can make their lives easier and more enjoyable. A properly trained service dog can perform helpful tasks and provide crucial support to these individuals, improving their lives in ways only a canine companion can.
How to Get a Service Dog in Texas - A Complete Guide (2023)
To obtain a service dog in Texas, individuals typically need to follow these steps: First, obtain a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional specifying the need for a service dog. Next, contact a reputable service dog training organization in Texas to inquire about their application process and training programs.
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How to Get a Service Dog in Texas
If you want to get a service dog in Texas, you'll need to have a disability that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and train the dog to perform specific tasks that help mitigate your disability. While some organizations offer service dog training, you can also train a service dog yourself with the help of a professional trainer.
However, rules and regulations may be different from state to state, so for residents of Texas, it’s important to be fully informed before adopting or training your assistance animal. If you’re living in the Lone Star State and considering adding a service dog to your life, this guide is for you. Let’s take a look at how to get a service dog in Texas.
What is a Service Dog?
While a pet dog may provide love and affection, a service dog is trained to work or perform specific tasks related to a person’s disability. According to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), a service dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The tasks performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Federal Protection for Service Dogs
Thanks to the ADA, individuals with service dogs are protected by certain federal rules and regulations that give the animal privileges not afforded to pets. Unlike pets, service dogs are permitted to accompany their humans in settings such as restaurants, hotels, stores, and medical facilities, to name a few.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that protects tenants from discrimination in housing, and that includes permitting service dogs to reside with their owners in their homes, even if pets aren’t typically allowed. Another federal law that affects service dogs is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which makes it illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers because of their disability. That means airlines must recognize service dogs and accept them on flights within the United States; however, they may deny a service dog in cases where it threatens the safety of other passengers.
Options for Getting a Service Dog in Texas
There are several ways to add a service dog to your life, any of which could fit your needs and lifestyle. If you have a mental health disorder and want to experience the benefits of a PSD, have a few choices:
- Enroll your current dog in a professional psychiatric service dog training program, like the one offered by Pettable
- Purchasing or adopting a trained service dog that matches your needs
- Personally train your current pet dog to assist you with your disability
Service Dog Laws in Texas
Texas state laws for service dogs are in line with federal laws and protections, but there are some additional rules:
- There is a criminal penalty for denying access to a person with a disability because of their service dog, punishable by a fine of up to $300 or 30 hours of community service
- Employees are entitled to up to ten days of paid leave for service dog training
- Persons with disabilities must keep their service dog properly harnessed or leashed
- Individuals who abuse or neglect their service dog are subject to seizure of the animal
Types of Service Dogs
Service dogs can be divided into two general categories: psychiatric service dogs (PSD) or service dogs for physical disabilities.
Psychiatric Service Dog
A psychiatric service dog can help anyone with a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They can be trained to fetch medication or perform deep pressure therapy (DPT), and their sheer presence and happy demeanor can provide much-needed emotional support.
Service Dog for Physical Disabilities
Other service dogs may be trained to help individuals with physical disabilities, such as impaired vision, mobility issues, or epilepsy. These dogs can perform such tasks as retrieving objects, providing physical balance, or identifying signs of a seizure before it begins. They can even seek help from others or contact emergency services.
Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Animals
While a PSD is a dog of any breed trained to perform specific tasks for an individual, an emotional support animal (ESA) is any domesticated animal (dogs, cats, rabbits, and more) that provides emotional comfort and companionship to help alleviate the symptoms of certain mental health disorders. Individuals with these challenges can benefit from the affection and positive demeanor of their ESA, making the animal an important part of their treatment.
However, ESAs don’t have as many protections. They are not considered service animals, so they can’t typically accompany their humans in public spaces or airlines where pets aren’t allowed unless state or local regulations give them access. On the other hand, they are protected by the FHA, so they can reside with their owners in housing where pets aren’t allowed.
Training a Service Dog
If you want your canine companion to be a PSD, you have two choices: online service dog training or in-person service dog training.
Online Service Dog Training
This type of training, like the program offered by Pettable, lets you train your dog in the comfort of your home and at a pace or schedule that suits both you and your canine companion. Most such programs offer video lessons from trained professionals that guide you on a skill-by-skill basis. However, this type of training might not fit a dog that has difficulty maintaining its attention.
In-Person Service Dog Training
Training your dog with an in-person program has its advantages and disadvantages compared to online training. It provides close contact with the trainer which can be beneficial, but such programs are often expensive and time-consuming.
Who is Eligible to Get a Service Dog in Texas?
Any individual Texan with a diagnosed physical or mental disability can have a service dog, as long as they are trained to perform a specific task or service.
How Do Service Dogs Assist Their Handlers?
Service dogs can provide physical and psychological assistance to persons with disabilities. They can assist with mobility issues, retrieve medications, provide physical comfort during an anxiety attack, or identify an emergency.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Service Dog?
If you want to purchase or adopt a trained service dog, you may run into a lengthy waitlist. If you want to train your dog with an online or in-person program, it could take anywhere from six months to a year or more.
How Much Does a Service Dog Cost?
Purchasing a trained service dog can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on what it is trained to do. Training your dog to be a service dog can cost anywhere from $150 to $250 per hour of training.
Online Psychiatric Service Dog Training with Pettable
Pettable offers an online psychiatric service dog training program that allows you to transform your canine companion into a genuine PSD. Our 15-part video series, created and led by a professional trainer, enables you to train your dog for specific tasks related to your mental disorder. We even offer a satisfaction guarantee — you will be satisfied with your PSD training program within the first seven days or 100% of your money back. Take our online assessment to get started!