There is no legal requirement in Florida as of the date of this publication for service dogs to be registered or certified. Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a handler is allowed to access public spaces with the dog simply by stating that the dog is a service animal. The handler does not have to disclose the nature of his disability when making such a verbal statement. However, some service dog handlers prefer to register their dogs with one of the national registries so that the dog has a tag or vest that clearly identifies him as a service dog.
Choose a service-animal registry with which to register your dog. A variety of registry services operate nationally in the United States. Some charge fees, but others are free. At the time of publication, the National Service Animal Registry, the United States Service Dog Registry and the Service Animal Registry of America all provided registration for service dogs in the state of Florida.
Get a doctor to diagnose the handler's disability and symptoms. The handler is not required to disclose the specifics of his disability when traveling with the service animal, but for service animal registration this information usually is required.
List the dog's actions and tasks that help the handler with her disability. These may include navigation, avoiding obstacles, retrieving items the handler drops, alerting the handler to an oncoming seizure or migraine, dialing 911 on behalf of the handler, or other specialties.
Write down the name and address of the person who trained the service animal. The main service animal registries find it acceptable for the dog's handler to also be her trainer.
Take a clear photograph of the dog for her identification tag. The photo should be a head shot showing the dog from her shoulders up. Write down the dog's breed and size, together with any identifying features or markings.
Send the photograph, dog description, medical diagnosis documents, list of service animal tasks and trainer information to your chosen registry. You may need to fill in additional specific registry forms; some services require you to send a fee.
Put the identification tag, vest or cape provided by the registry on the service animal when she is working.
The state of Florida requires all dogs over 4 months old to have a valid pet license.
- Florida Statutes: 413.08
- U.S. Service Dog Registry
- Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook; Marcie Davis, Betty White, Melissa Bunnell -
- The Golden Bridge: Selecting and Training Assistance Dogs for Children With Social, Emotional, and Educational Challenges; Patty Dobbs Gross
- National Service Animal Registry
- Service Animal Registry of America
- Rex image by Benny Weber from Fotolia.com