A Service Dog is a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities, such as visual impairment, hearing impairments, mental disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder, seizures, mobility impairment, and diabetes.
Desirable character traits in service animals typically include good temperament or psychological make-up and good health. Some service dogs are bred and trained by service dog organizations, while others are bred by breeders, and trained by private trainers or even the individuals with disabilities who will someday become their partners. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever crossbred dogs, Poodles and German Shepherd Dogs are among the most common dog breeds working as service dogs today in the United States. Although dogs of almost any breed or mix of breeds may be capable of becoming a service dog.
On September 15, 2010, the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, issued new and updated regulations regarding Service Animals, as summarized in its official guidance document, which states:
"Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."
Under the ADA, individuals with disabilities who use service dogs are granted legal access to be accompanied by their service dogs in all places of public accommodation. Under Title II, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public entities.
Public access rights of owners, handlers, and partners of service dogs vary by country. In the United States, ADA guidance states:
State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment