BREAKING NEWS

Public Law No: 112-154

The first recent change in VA rights concerning service dogs was Public Law No: 112-154 aka H.R.1627: Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 This is a law passed by Congress and signed by the President on August 6, 2012. It addresses access on VA property with a service animal. It is important to note that the ADA does not apply to federal entities.

This law states:


SEC. 109. USE OF SERVICE DOGS ON PROPERTY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

Section 901 is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

‘(f)(1) The Secretary may not prohibit the use of a covered service dog in any facility or on any property of the Department or in any facility or on any property that receives funding from the Secretary.

‘(2) For purposes of this subsection, a covered service dog is a service dog that has been trained by an entity that is accredited by an appropriate accrediting body that evaluates and accredits organizations which train guide or service dogs.’.
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr1627/text

While the actual language states that a dog must be trained by "an entity that is accredited by an appropriate accrediting body" there are currently only two accrediting bodies that evaluate and accredit organizations which train guide or service dogs. They are Assistance Dogs International (accredits service dog organizations) and (International Guide Dog Federation (guide dogs).

Prior to this new law, VA facilities were required only to permit guide dogs. Some facilities accepted other types of service dogs as well and some did not. There was inconsistency in access across the country. Some vets were finding that even when their service dog was prescribed by a VA medical provider, they could not take that service dog with them onto VA property.
http://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/Home/News_Front/Advocates_push_changes...
http://www.spinalcord.org/one-step-closer-to-ensuring-va-access-for-vets...

This was based on an internal rule promulgated by the VA, 38 C.F.R. 1.218(11): which said


Dogs and other animals. Dogs and other animals, except seeing-eye dogs, shall not be brought upon property except as authorized by the head of the facility or designee.
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title38-vol1/xml/CFR-2011-title38-...

This new law requires the VA to create a regulation that permits all types of service dog (including PTSD service dogs) that are certified by an ADI (Assistance Dogs International) accredited program. Prior to this new law, there was no requirement for proof of training. This change is a solution for another problem being encountered in VA facilities concerning service animals, that being vets taking untrained personal pets into the facilities and these animals being disruptive or dangerous. There are some reports of these supposed service dogs attacking real service dogs, such as reported in this blog:
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/986/service-dogs-and-emotional-support-a...

It is also based in part on a change in policy for some military bases caused by an incident wherein a 6 year old child was attacked and killed by a supposed PTSD service dog involving two active duty officers at Ft. Campbell:
http://www.newschannel5.com/story/16645526/dog-trainers-say-even-medical...
http://www.newschannel5.com/story/19161601/ft-campbell-enforcing-stricte...

Summary: All types of service dogs, including those for mental health such as PTSD service dogs, are permitted on VA property so long as they are certified by an ADI accredited program.