Cross posted with permission from Joan Capaiu Greene:
“[Note: this information applies equally to service animals other than canines.]
Many disabled individuals who use assistance animals – most, in fact – train their own service dogs. Thousands of others buy or are given pre-trained service dogs by organizations or individuals. Most of those animals live in the trainer’s home while learning their assistance skills. If the USDA’s proposed changes to the AWA are adopted, this will change.
In practical terms: the cost of providing pre-trained SDs to the disabled will increase by hundreds of dollars per animal. Either the disabled handler, the trainer, a 501c3 charity or some kind-hearted soul will have to pay the costs for each new handler to travel to see their next SD before it comes home with him/her.
The consequences for a trainer’s failure to follow these rules, and a new SD partner’s failure to visit the dog *before* bringing him or her back home: the trainer *will* be classified as a commercial USDA wholesaler and be subject to onsite USDA inspections. Forever after.
Here’s what those trainers will have to do to be in legal compliance:
In a nutshell:
– if a service dog trainer delivers a trained animal to a disabled individual, and
– if that disabled individual did not first visit with that specific dog in the trainer’s home,
then: the trainer will no longer be able to legally train SDs in their home. All their future service dog trainees will, legally, have to live in USDA-approved facilities.
Even if the handler and trainer have known each other for decades, even if this is the second or third SD trained by the trainer for the disabled handler, even if it is very difficult for the disabled handler to travel .. this will be the ‘new normal’ for obtaining a trained service animal. The USDA doesn’t care.
This law may never touch you personally, and you may become a fantastic owner-trainer for your next SD as a consequence. 😉 But: think about those who physically, mentally or emotionally *cannot* train their own service animal. What about them? I *do not* recommend ignoring this dangerous proposal or telling people, “they’ll never catch me; they’ll never know; they’ll never find out.” That is foolish beyond words.
Please go comment at the portal site and ask every person you know to do so as well. Write snail mail letters too – they will be even more valuable to the USDA. Submit comments online here:
Read already-posted comments here:
Find – and write – your Congressional representatives online here: