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I’ve been raising and training service dog puppies for over 13 years and the question of one person bringing multiple working service dogs into a public place never crossed my mind until today.
A few weeks ago someone asked me “Can I have two service dogs?” After giving the question a little thought it made sense that individuals could require multiple service dogs.
For instance, an individual could have a visual impairment and diabetes requiring a guide dog and a diabetic alert dog. In this situation a person may require two service dogs.
Can You Have Two Service Dogs?
Question: Can You Have Two Service Dogs?
Answer: Yes. Some people with disabilities may use more than one service dog to perform different tasks.
In fact the American’s with Disabilities Act covers this exact question in their updated FAQ. Here’s the exact wording from the Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA:
Q: Can people bring more than one service animal into a public place?
A: Generally, yes. Some people with disabilities may use more than one service animal to perform different tasks.
For example, a person who has a visual disability and a seizure disorder may use one service animal to assist with way-finding and another that is trained as a seizure alert dog.
Other people may need two service animals for the same task, such as a person who needs two dogs to assist him or her with stability when walking.
Staff may ask the two permissible questions (See Question 7) about each of the dogs.
If both dogs can be accommodated, both should be allowed in.
In some circumstances, however, it may not be possible to accommodate more than one service animal.
For example, in a crowded small restaurant, only one dog may be able to fit under the table.
The only other place for the second dog would be in the aisle, which would block the space between tables. In this case, staff may request that one of the dogs be left outside.FAQ about Service Animals and The ADA
While reading through the ADA documentation and looking for additional information by searching Google I came across some misinformation, specifically some people are getting Service Animals confused with Emotional Support Animals.
Service Animal vs Emotional Support Animal
What Is A Service Animal?
Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.
The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.American’s with Disabilities Act
While not stated in the above quote from the ADA, miniature horses are the only other species that can be considered a service animal.
What Is An Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.
Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats, but may include other animals.
Wikipedia gives a good definition of the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal:
An emotional support animal differs from a service animal.
Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks (such as helping a blind person navigate), while emotional support animals receive no specific training, nor even, necessarily, any training at all. (It therefore stands that in the setting of mental illness, whether or not the animal is a “service animal” vs. an emotional support animal would hinge on whether or not it is formally trained to do something specific to mitigate the mental illness.)
Any animal that provides support, well-being, comfort, or aid, to an individual through companionship, unconditional positive regard, and affection may be regarded as an emotional support animal.Emotional Support Animals – Wikipedia
Can a Dog be Trained for Both Guide and Service Work?
Now that we know you can have two service dogs. What if instead of having two service dogs you trained one dog to do multiple tasks to help with your disabilities. Would this be possible?
Question: Can a dog be trained for both guide work and service work?
Answer: Yes, you could definitely train a dog to perform guide work for visually impaired and also teach the same dog to do other specific tasks to help mitigate your disabilities such as mobility, scent detection, or other trained tasks.
A service animal is only required to perform one task to mitigate your disability this does not preclude your dog from performing multiple tasks to aid you with your disability.
So, to answer todays question. Yes, you can have two service dogs.
Ideally you’d probably be better off training your service dog to do multiple tasks to mitigate your disabilities. However, I understand this may not always be possible which is why the law allows more than one service dog.
My only concern with handling multiple service dogs is it may be very difficult for one person to manage.
As a service dog puppy raiser I sometimes find it difficult fitting one Labrador Retriever under the table when eating lunch. I couldn’t imagine two fidgety Labs playing pawsies (it’s like footsies only in the dog world) under the table.
I know there are all kinds of different scenarios I’m not thinking about. For instance the two Service Dogs could be smaller dogs that are much easier to manage.
And of course a well-behaved dog is much easier then the unpolished service dog puppies I’m used to raising.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Are you a service dog handler?
Do you have more than one service dog? If not, would you consider having multiple service dogs?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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