takes advantage of laws meant to help the disabled for personal gain.

See the detailed discussion of her crimes against the disabled on our forum

Programs to Avoid...

    Think twice about:

  • Programs that promote tethering or babysitting.
  • Programs that charge thousands of dollars for service dogs. Many programs provide service dogs at no charge, others charge a nominal fee to cover equipment and housing during team training.
  • Programs that are not 501(c)(3) programs.
  • Programs that are not ADI affiliates.
  • Programs that spend less than 18 months training a public access-ready service dog
  • Programs with trainers that do not have credentials.
  • Programs that claim emotional support as a justification for a dog being a service dog.

Any benefits derived from the mere presence of a dog, be it emotional support, calming, or improving social interaction with others, is a bonus and does not in and of itself make a dog a service dog. All service dogs must be individually trained to physically perform tasks, ie to actually DO something, like signaling, retrieving, guiding, etc. These tasks must enable the person with a disability to do something that he or she must be able to do to survive, but cannot do on his or her own because of a disability. Verify this by calling the US Department of Justice at

800 - 514 - 0301 (voice) OR 800 - 514 - 0383 (TTY)

    Consider how program staff deal with people with disabilities:

  • Is the program's website accessible?
  • Does the program have a TTY line? An interpreter? Any other adaptive technology to assist clients with disabilities?
  • Are the staff knowledgeable about the limitations imposed by various disabilities covered in their training program?
  • Do they speak to the person with a disability directly, or about the person to a caregiver?
  • Do they take time to sit down and develop an individualized plan for each client, taking into account the client's specific impairments, lifestyle, abilities, and personal preferences? Or do they train "one size fits all" or "cookie cutter" dogs?
  • Can they make themselves understood by the person with a disability?
  • Do they listen to client concerns and respond appropriately?

How do they think about people with disabilities, and how do they treat them?

"My guess is that you use a Psychiatric Service Dog if not, your need for one is obvious ALL OVER YOUR WEBSITE."

- Karen Shirk

"I'll stop here because I am sure you do not want to hear my views on adults with mental illness being paired with service dogs!"

- Karen Shirk

Apparently this person considers it an insult to suggest a person might be disabled by mental illness, though mental illness is prevalent throughout the disability community, even if mental illness is not a person's primary diagnosis. How is this different from calling a person with Autism a retard or a person who cannot speak "dumb?" The whole idea behind the disability rights movement is to garner acceptance of all people with all kinds of disabilities, not to create some sort of dichotomy of which disabilities are "good" or which are "shameful" and fit to be used as an insult.

This is particularly of concern when one realizes most Autistic clients do have one or more co-morbid mental illnesses. Sure, she was angry when she wrote what was quoted above, because we at Service Dog Central share the view of the majority in the service dog community on the issue of tether and babysitter dogs and refuse to subscribe to her self-serving minority viewpoint. Does that make it acceptable to speak of people with perceived disabilities in a derogatory way? Apparently it does show her true feelings about people with disabilities.