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Blind, hearing-impaired, and mentally and physically handicapped are all part of the definition of disabled and, when you are disabled, you may benefit from the use of a service dog. Service dogs around the country have been assisting disabled persons for decades. So how are these animals protected? And how are the rights of the disabled protected? In most states, they are protected by the laws of that particular state, and that is the way it is in Texas.
Definition of Service Dog
"Service dog" is defined as a dog trained or equipped to help a person with a disability. The disabled person will be able to use the service dog after he or she has completed a training course and been trained by an organization that is recognized by any agency participating in assistance to people with disabilities.
Definition of Disabled
A "disabled" person means any person who is visually impaired, hearing impaired, deaf, or has any mental or physical disability, including mental retardation, or any impairment that requires the person to use any devices or services. This is the definition of a person who can legally use a service dog.
It is illegal to harass any service dog in Texas. To "harass" means to impede in the dog’s duties as a service dog or to direct impeding behavior toward the disabled person using the service dog. No person may hurt, attempt to hurt, kill, or attempt to kill any service dog.
A state employee with a disability is legally entitled to a leave of absence to take a training program for receipt of the service dog. This leave of absence may not exceed 10 days. Additionally, disabled persons with a service dog will be granted the same opportunities for employment in any governmental body, including public schools.
People with disabilities and who use a service dog have the same rights to use a public facility as all other people. A public facility is defined as any street, airplane, vehicle, hotel or any place of lodging, any governmental building, any restaurant or place of public accommodation, including amusement and entertainment venues. No disabled person with a service dog may be denied access or entry to any of these public places.
- handicapped sign image by sonya etchison from Fotolia.com