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What Do You Need to Know About Service Animals – Tricky Questions, Controversy, and Tips

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What Do You Need to Know About Service Animals - Tricky Questions, Controversy, and Tips

What Do You Need to Know About Service Animals – Tricky Questions, Controversy, and Tips

 

The role of animals as our physical and mental aid has raised a lot of questions in society.

What does it mean for an animal to be deemed medical equipment; are their tasks really effective and beneficial for people with physical and/or mental illnesses; how can you make sure that a dog is an actual service dog…?

Both service animal handlers and the public are still experiencing difficulties when interacting with each other.

Why is that so? There are many reasons for that, the most significant of which are related to a lack of education, and unified service dog regulations on a country/provincial/local level, as well as the increased number of individuals who tend to abuse the law for their benefit.

Considering the immense importance of service animals for the well-being of many disabled people worldwide, we would like to provide valuable information in regard to the nature of service animals and how to be prepared for any controversial situations, involving them, that may occur.

 

What Are Service Animals?

Service animals are dogs in particular, who have been individually trained to perform tasks directly related to a physical or mental disability. Through the tasks / work these dogs do, they help a disabled person better cope with their disability.

 

Can Other Animals Also Become Service Animals?

No, unless you are based in one of the U.S. states that also recognize miniature horses as service animals. Miniature horses can also be accepted as service animals due to the regulations in certain U.S. states and not due to federal ones.

At the time of writing, we are not aware of any country that accepts as service dogs animals different from dogs.

If you have a cat, rabbit, bird, hamster…or any other type of animal specie that brings you comfort, please note that your pet can still play the role of your Emotional Support Animal, but not that of your Service Animal.

Service Animal and Not an Emotional Support Animal

How to Prove That My Dog Is a Service Animal and Not an Emotional Support Animal?

The “eternal war” between companion animals and service animals is likely to come to an end with the clear determination of their differences.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) bring comfort to their owners and mitigate the symptoms of their mental disabilities thanks to their presence and companionship. ESAs do not perform specific tasks though, that are directly related to a disability, hence they are not deemed service animals.

Service animals, as already explained above, are dogs, that do specific work directly related to a disability.

If the legitimacy of your service animal is being questioned, you should be able to clarify what the dog does to help you deal with your disability. This does not mean that you will need to reveal personal details about your disability, but you have to be able to explain what the tasks performed for your benefit are.

“My dog provides me with comfort and emotional support”; “My dog helps me a lot in my daily life”; “My dog performs physical/psychiatric tasks for me”, are answers considered too vague to be accepted by business owners/employees while in public.

If your service dog has been trained to give you a kiss, paw at you, nose-nudge you, alert you to oncoming episodes (regardless of the nature of these episodes- anxiety, seizure, epilepsy, diabetic episodes…etc.), retrieve items for you, open/close doors, detect a specific scent, interrupt specific behavior…etc., you should be able to explain these tasks.

Dogs, who have been trained to pull a wheelchair or help a person with visual and balance issues, are typically not questioned, as their job is easily recognizable.

Tasks, related to “hidden disabilities”, that are not so obvious, may need to be explained.

You may want to learn more about the differences between the various types of assistance animals, such as service dogs, emotional support animals and therapy animals.

 

Employees Require Documentation to Allow My Service Dog on the Premise-What to Do?

Here comes up the question-Are employees allowed to require service dog handlers to provide any documentation as proof of the legitimacy of their service animals?

Service dogs in the US and the UK are not legally required to have documentation as proof of training or licensing. Moreover, there is no official service dog registry.

If a website claims that you can register your service dog with them and he/she will be automatically granted public access rights, be cautious! You may need to reconsider registering your dog with such a website.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is a federal civil rights law protecting disabled individuals states:

“A. No. Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry”.

You can read more about the ADA service dog regulations here.

The guidance for businesses created by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, in compliance with the Equality Act 2010 states:

“Some, but not all assistance dog users, will carry an ID book giving information about the assistance dog and the training organization together with other useful information.

Again, this is not a legal requirement and assistance dog users should not be refused service simply because they do not possess an ID book. Assistance dogs can also be owner trained and the owner selects their own dog to fit their own requirements”.

You can read more about the Equality and Human Rights Commission whose regulations apply in the UK here.

 

According to the Assistance Dogs UK:

“Disabled people who train their own assistance dogs, or those who have an assistance dog trained by non-ADUK members, have the same rights as those that have an assistance dog trained by one of our members”.

More information about Assistance Dogs UK can be found on the page linked here.

If you are based in a different country, we highly recommend that you check the local laws and if there is documentation that you may need to show for your service animal (called “assistance animal” in the UK).

What Do You Need to Know About Service Animals

How Can You Identify a Dog as a Service Dog in the US and the UK if Documentation May Not Be Required?

Legitimate service dogs need to go through proper training, whether with a professional trainer/organization or the owner themselves. This training must include basic obedience, public manners, and specialized service dog tasks directly related to a disability.

Having said that, dogs who just wander, excessively sniff around, jump on passersby/guests/clients (if in a public place), bark (unless it is a specific service dog task), seek attention, and food, get overly excited, or aggressive, are not “real” service dogs.

Also, a dog who is misbehaving might still be in the process of training and have not mastered all the needed tasks yet.

However, a service animal, even when in training, must behave appropriately when in public and not disrupt passersby or any animals that might be there.

The physical appearance of a service dog should also be taken into consideration. Due to the immense importance of their job, service animals need proper care-they need to appear healthy, well-groomed, and taken care of.

The owner’s behavior should be taken into account as well- reliable service dog owners know how to handle their dogs and keep them under control at all times.

Since service dogs typically develop a strong bond with their owners/handlers, the latter need to treat them with respect and care. Owners who do not keep their dogs under control, let them misbehave, or just yell at them are not likely to be actual service dog owners.

As mentioned above, service dog handlers need to be able to explain what their dogs do for them to help them deal with their disability. Employees may ask:

  1. Is this a service dog due to a disability;
  2. What tasks he/she has been trained to perform?

As explained, too vague and unclear answers, or the inability to provide such at all, are a big red flag for the legitimacy of the service dog team.

 

A Service Dog Seems Intimidating (Due to His/Her Breed or Size)- What to Do?

This is a bit of a tricky question, and we will tell you why. As a general rule, service dogs are not restricted in regard to their breed, size, or any physical feature. However, the laws in some countries have banned certain dog breeds in general.

For example, this is the case with the UK. According to the information provided on the website of the UK government, the following dog breeds are banned: Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro.

Does it mean that it is impossible for you to have an assistance animal who is a representative of one of those breeds? No, it is not!

There is a certain procedure that dog owners must follow in order to put their dog on the so-called “Index of Exempt Dogs”, in case he/she is a representative of one of the breeds listed above.

Owners need to contact the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs and follow a certain procedure.

In the US, on the other hand, there are no breed restrictions in regard to service animals.

In order to avoid any issues that may occur due to your paw friend’s breed, you should get informed about the laws in our country or region.

My Service Dog

 

My Service Dog Does Not Wear a Vest – Can He/She Be Excluded?

This also depends on the regulations in your country. If you are based in the US or the UK- then the answer is “No”. Service dogs/assistance animals in those countries are not required by law to wear any identification or training gear.

If employees attempt to exclude your dog from the facility, you may want to let them know what the regulations and your rights as a service dog team are.

 

However, we would recommend that you:

  1. Put some sort of identification on your dog, although this is not legally required. That way you will notify the public what the status of your dog is, namely that he/she is a service dog/assistance animal, and not a pet. Hence, the dog is currently on-duty and should not be distracted;
  2. Try to remain calm and explain what the rights and responsibilities of service dog teams are, without revealing any detailed information about your disability. Information about a person’s disability may not be required.

 

I Do Not Have a Disability- May I Have a Service Dog?

No, you cannot. Only people who are diagnosed with a physical and/or mental disability are eligible for a service dog. A person’s disability must impede a major life activity, which is why a service animal is needed.

According to the ADA: “An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.”

 

Do I Need a Medical Letter for my Service Animal?

Employees are not allowed to ask for such documentation. The tricky part here is that due to the increased number of fake service dogs, sometimes the legitimacy of real service dogs may be doubted.

This is especially valid for situations when a disabled person would like to live with their service animal in a building that runs a “no-pets” policy. In such cases, a medical letter can come in handy.

We would like to note that these types of letters do not include personal information in regard to the individual’s disability, but a statement by a licensed health provider that he/she is aware of the individual’s disability and that a service animal may be needed.

 

My Dog Is Still a Puppy- Can He/She Accompany Me as a Service Dog?

The laws in most countries require dogs to have reached at least the age of 6 months old to be recognized as service dogs.

You should not forget, that a service animal needs to go through the very basics first prior to moving to advanced service dog training, and this requires time. Public access manners are also part of the requirements for a dog to become a service animal.

About Service Animals

 

Can I Take My Service Dog Everywhere?

Despite being considered medical equipment and not pets, service dogs do not have unlimited access rights. As a general rule, service dogs must be provided access to all places open for use to the public.

There are certain situations, when service animals may be denied access to a public place. The ADA states:

“In most settings, the presence of a service animal will not result in a fundamental alteration. However, there are some exceptions.

For example, at a boarding school, service animals could be restricted from a specific area of a dormitory reserved specifically for students with allergies to dog dander.

At a zoo, service animals can be restricted from areas where the animals on display are the natural prey or natural predators of dogs, where the presence of a dog would be disruptive, causing the displayed animals to behave aggressively or become agitated. They cannot be restricted from other areas of the zoo”.

“Religious institutions and organizations are specifically exempt from the ADA. However, there may be State laws that apply to religious organizations”.

“The ADA does not override public health rules that prohibit dogs in swimming pools. However, service animals must be allowed on the pool deck and in other areas where the public is allowed to go”.

 

For more information about the ADA rules, click here.

 

How Many Service Animals Can I Have?

There is no specific limitation on the number of service animals that a disabled person can have. However, in case you have multiple dogs, you may be asked to explain why you need more than one dog. You should be able to clarify what tasks each dog performs for you.

Please keep in mind, that this is especially valid when flying with a service animal.

Airlines typically limit the maximum number of dogs onboard to two dogs per person.

 

 

 

 

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Top 13 Best Online Casinos: Real Money Games, Big Payouts & Bonuses

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Top 13 Best Online Casinos: Real Money Games, Big Payouts & Bonuses

Top 13 Best Online Casinos: Real Money Games, Big Payouts & Bonuses

The world of online casinos has exploded in recent years, offering a vast array of games, bonuses, and promotions to entice players.

With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right casino for you. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 13 best online casinos, where you can enjoy real money games, big payouts, and generous bonuses.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Online Casino

Before you start diving into the world of online casinos, it’s important to consider a few key factors to ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience.

Here are some of the most important aspects to look for:

Licensing and Regulation: Choose an online casino that is licensed and regulated by a reputable authority, such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), or the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner (GGC). These regulators ensure that casinos operate fairly and responsibly.

Game Selection: Make sure the casino offers a wide variety of games to suit your preferences, including slots, table games, live dealer games, and progressive jackpots. Check for games from reputable providers like NetEnt, Microgaming, and Playtech.

Bonuses and Promotions: Look for casinos that offer generous welcome bonuses, ongoing promotions, and loyalty programs. However, always read the terms and conditions carefully to understand wagering requirements and other restrictions.

Security and Payment Options: Ensure the casino uses advanced encryption technologies, such as SSL, to protect your personal and financial information. Choose a casino that offers a variety of safe and reliable payment methods, such as credit cards, e-wallets, and bank transfers.

Customer Support: Check if the casino provides responsive and helpful customer support in multiple languages. Live chat and phone support are often the most convenient options.

Responsible Gambling Practices: Choose a casino that prioritizes responsible gambling by providing tools and resources to help players manage their gaming habits. This may include deposit limits, self-exclusion options, and access to gambling addiction support services.

Top 13 Best Online Casinos

Now that you know what to look for, here are the top 13 best online casinos that offer real money games, big payouts, and generous bonuses:

1. Betway Casino: Betway is a renowned online casino with a global presence, known for its extensive game selection, generous bonuses, and robust customer support.

2. LeoVegas Casino: LeoVegas is a pioneer in mobile gaming, offering an exceptional mobile-optimized platform and a plethora of games, including slots, table games, and live dealer options.

3. 888 Casino: 888 is a well-established online casino with a reputation for fairness and security. It offers a diverse range of games, including exclusive titles, and a user-friendly interface.

4. Royal Panda Casino: Royal Panda is a popular choice among players due to its generous welcome bonus, extensive game selection, and focus on Asian-themed slots.

5. Jackpot City Casino: Jackpot City is a veteran in the online casino industry, known for its progressive jackpot games and commitment to responsible gambling practices.

6. Spin Casino: Spin boasts a rich history and a reputation for providing a secure and enjoyable gaming experience. It offers a wide range of games, including Microgaming favorites.

7. EuroGrand Casino: EuroGrand exudes elegance and class, offering a luxurious gaming experience with a focus on table games and live dealer options.

8. William Hill Casino: William Hill is a renowned name in the gambling industry, offering a comprehensive range of games, including sports betting and poker.

9. Guts Casino: Guts is a Scandinavian-inspired online casino that prioritizes player satisfaction with its fast payouts, generous bonuses, and transparent terms and conditions.

10. Mansion Casino: Mansion exudes elegance and class, offering a luxurious gaming experience with a focus on table games and live dealer options.

11. 21 Casino: 21 is a haven for blackjack enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of blackjack variants and tournaments. It also features a variety of other slots and table games.

12. Casumo Casino: Casumo is a gamified online casino that rewards players for completing missions and achievements. It offers a unique and engaging gaming experience.

13. Dunder Casino: Dunder is a Swedish online casino known for its user-friendly interface, fast payouts, and extensive game selection.

Conclusion

Venturing into the realm of online casinos can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience, offering a gateway to captivating games, enticing bonuses, and the thrill of potential winnings. However, navigating this landscape can be daunting, with numerous options vying for your attention.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming journey, it’s crucial to prioritize legitimate and trustworthy online casinos that adhere to stringent standards of fairness, transparency, and player well-being.

By carefully considering the criteria outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can make an informed decision and select a reputable online casino that caters to your specific preferences and gaming style.

Remember to prioritize licensed and regulated casinos that offer a diverse game selection, generous promotions, and responsible gambling practices. By doing so, you can elevate your online gaming experience, maximize your chances of winning, and cultivate a long-lasting and enjoyable relationship with the world of online casinos.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, it’s also essential to check the casino’s withdrawal policies and ensure that they are transparent and fair. Avoid casinos that have hidden fees or unreasonable wagering requirements associated with bonuses and promotions.

Moreover, take the time to read reviews and testimonials from other players to gauge the casino’s reputation and customer satisfaction levels. Pay attention to feedback regarding customer support, payout processing times, and overall gaming experience.

Finally, remember to gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid potential financial losses and maintain a healthy balance between gaming and other aspects of your life. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe, enjoyable, and rewarding online casino experience.

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Vitakraft – Trick & Treat Halloween Costume Contest

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Vitakraft - Trick & Treat Halloween Costume Contest

Vitakraft – Trick & Treat Halloween Costume Contest

This Halloween, the renowned international pet food brand Vitakraft is inviting pets and their parents to join the “Trick & Treat Halloween Costume Contest.”

In a move to encompass the diverse array of pets cherished in homes everywhere, the contest welcomes cats, dogs, small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters, as well as birds such as parrots, canaries, love birds, and many more!  Participation has been made effortless.

Pet parents need only to post a photo or video of their costumed pet on social media and tag Vitakraft to enter. Make this October unforgettable. Share the magic, share the fun!

To enter:

1. Dress up your pet in their spookiest, funniest, or most enchanting Halloween costume.

2. Capture the magic in a photo or video.

3. Post it on your profile, ensuring it’s public so we can see it!

4. Follow @Vitakraftusa

5. Use the hashtag #OurHappyMoment in your post caption.

6. Tag 3 friends!

Whiskers, wings, or wizard hats – we can’t wait to see your pet’s Halloween spirit! Hurry, entries close on October 27th!

 

 

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How To Make Your Veterinary Practice More Energy Efficient

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How To Make Your Veterinary Practice More Energy Efficient

How To Make Your Veterinary Practice More Energy Efficient

Your veterinary practice is an important part of your community. It’s also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in some cities. If you want to be a sustainable veterinarian, it’s time to start thinking about how you can reduce your environmental impact. 

The good news is that there are many green building strategies you can implement right now that will make your practice more energy efficient and save money on utilities for years to come! 

Switching Your Supplier

Switch to a supplier that offers a green tariff. If you aren’t already on a green tariff, don’t worry; it’s simple to switch suppliers and most will be happy to help you do so. They’ll also offer you advice about which tariffs are best suited for your business; learn more on this website.

Look at how much energy your vet can save each year by switching from one supplier to another; the average saving is around £2000 per year. This means that if you want to invest in more effective equipment, there’s no need because the savings will cover the cost of upgrading within 12 months.

What To Look For in a New Supplier

When choosing a supplier, you should look for:

  • The lowest price.
  • Good customer service.
  • A good environmental record.
  • A good reputation.
  • Flexible tariffs that allow you to reduce your energy consumption when possible and increase it when needed (for example, charging at night when electricity is cheaper).
  • A long contract length so that you don’t have to change suppliers every year or two as may happen with some fixed-cost contracts.

Choosing the Right Technology

The right kind of technology can help you save money and make your practice more energy efficient. For example, an automatic watering system for plants will reduce the amount that employees need to water them. 

Meanwhile, motion-activated lighting will cut down on electricity use at night when you don’t need as much light in a room as you do during daylight hours.

Good Habits Can Go a Long Way

Not turning off lights when you leave a room can expend unnecessary energy. Switch off any lights in unoccupied rooms or install motion sensors in hallways or rooms that are not used regularly.

To reduce your electricity costs, consider using halogen, compact fluorescent, or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs instead. They provide light that lasts longer and uses less energy than your outdated incandescent bulbs.

Unplug appliances that are not being used—this includes computers and chargers! Even if gadgets and appliances are switched off, it still draws power when plugged in. Unplug idle electronics and devices, as well as any kitchen and office appliances.

Warm water requires energy. Don’t leave warm water taps running unnecessarily.

When washing the animals at your practice, turn off the tap immediately; this may seem like common sense but it’s often an easy thing to forget about until afterwards when we’ve wasted gallons upon gallons by letting taps run.

Repairs and Maintenance

With regular maintenance, you can keep your boiler and radiators in top shape. Check the condition of your boilers and radiators regularly to make sure they’re working properly.

Keep air vents clean so that they don’t become blocked or clogged with dust. This can cause problems such as a lack of heating or poor ventilation throughout your practice. 

Make sure the seals around windows and doors are secure so that heat doesn’t escape when they’re open—or worse, get into the room!

Use timers on electrical items (such as lights) to reduce energy use during off-hours; this will also help prevent accidental overheating from electrical fires due to faulty wiring.

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

You don’t need to overhaul your business to make a big difference. Small changes can be just as important and effective. The benefits of making these small changes include:

  • Reduced energy costs
  • Lower emissions and carbon footprint
  • Better employee morale when everyone is involved in reducing energy consumption.

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits to making your veterinary practice more energy efficient. Not only will it help save costs, reduce the carbon footprint of the business and make you more sustainable.

The most important thing is to start with one small change and see how it goes. Then keep going until all your lights are off at night and everyone knows how important it is to turn them off when they leave the room.

Conclusion

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