Apsychiatric Service Dog is simply a service dog for a person with a psychiatricimpairment, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These dogs areindividually trained in obedience, performing tasks, and working in distractingpublic environments to mitigate their handler's psychiatric disability. Theirfunction is not to provide emotional support, but to perform tasks which enabletheir partner to function in ordinary ways the non-disabled take for granted.
UnderU.S. law, persons with therapy dogs are NOT granted the right to enterbusinesses that do not permit pets with their therapy dogs, unless they getpermission from the business first. This includes the hospitals and nursinghomes they visit to work with the patients and residents there. They do not getto fly in the cabins of aircraft because they are therapy dogs, nor do they getto live in "no pets" housing because they are therapy dogs.
For a person to qualify for a PSD, he/shemust have a letter written by a licensed mental health professional (therapist,psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist) that states the person ispsychiatrically disabled to the degree that the person is unable to perform atleast one major life task without assistance on a day to day basis.
Federallyprotected rights for Service Dogs (not ESA's):
· With only a fewexceptions, a disabled handler may take a service dog into any place a personwithout a dog would normally be allowed to go - even when pets are NOT allowed.This includes, but is not limited to: restaurants, grocery stores, malls,theatres, buses, taxis, trains, airplanes, motels, government buildings,medical offices, hospitals, parks, beaches, amusement parks, churches, etc.
· A Psychiatric ServiceDog may fly in the cabin of a USA-based commercial airline with their disabledhandler, and the handler may NOT be charged a pet or other fee.
· Landlords andproperty managers must make reasonable accommodations for tenants orprospective tenants with service dogs, even if the apartment, house, collegedorm, or other residence does not allow pets. A tenant with a service dog mayNOT be charged a pet-fee of any kind, even if pet fees are normally required.
· Public entities mayNOT charge the disabled handler a fee because of their service dog.
· Public entities mayNOT position or seat the handler and service dog away from other patrons tointentionally separate them.
The following is a list of possible tasks for a PSA:
· Guide a disorientedhandler. Example: A person wanders away fromfamiliar surroundings during a dissociative episode. When she becomes awareagain, she realizes she is lost and still disoriented from the episode. Shecannot think clearly about how to retrace her steps. Her dog is trained tobacktrack, following their own scent trail back to where they were when theepisode started. Alternatively, the dog might be trained to guide the handlerto specific trained locations by command, such as "home."
· Find a person orplace. Example: A person becomes separatedfrom his family in a crowd. As the crowd closes in around him, he experiences apanic attack and difficulty breathing. He cannot call out to his family. Hegives his dog a signal to locate his family who will help him, or to locate anexit where he can escape the crowd and get fresh air.
· Room search. Example: A person with severe hypervigilance due to PTSDfinds she is unable to enter her own home. Her symptom causes her to believethere is an intruder in her home who will attack her if she enters. Her dog istrained to perform a systematic search of any room or building and bark onfinding someone. When her dog finishes the search pattern and returns, sheknows it really is safe to enter and that the presumed intruder was just asymptom. The same task can be used at her office, at hotel rooms, at friends'homes or any other area that is supposed to be vacant.
· Signal for certainsounds. Example: A person heavily sedated, ina flashback, or in a psychotic episode fails to respond to a smoke alarm. Hisdog is trained to persistently and very firmly signal him until he responds.Alternately, the dog may be trained to take hold of his handler's arm or sleevein his mouth and lead him outside.
· Interrupt andredirect. Example: A person with OCDsubconsciously picks at the skin on her arm. She has done this with suchpersistence that she has scaring. Her dog is trained to recognize picking skinas a cue to bring her a dog brush. Because she is not picking intentionally,the interruption of the dog will stop her from picking. Handing her the brushis a reminder to her that grooming the dog is a non-harmful alternativebehavior for her OCD symptom.
· Balance assistance. Example: A person overwhelmed with anxiety has taken astrong prescribed tranquilizer. While the tranquilizer reduces his anxiety,allowing him to breathe more efficiently and to think a little more clearly, ithas also impaired his ability to walk without assistance. His dog is trained towalk close at his side so he can rest his hand on the dog's harness to help himkeep his balance as he moves to a safe place to finish recovering from hisattack.
· Bring help. Example: A person with PTSD becomes stuck in a flashbackthat an intruder is searching for her. She managed to call 911 for assistancewhen she first perceived the problem but is now hiding in her closet to avoiddetection by the perceived intruder. When EMS arrives, they call out for her,but she does not answer because she believes they are going to hurt her. The 911operator informs the responders that there is a service dog present and whatcommand to give him to lead them to his owner. With the dog's assistance inlocating her, EMS is able to reach her and assist her to the hospital.
· Bring medication inan emergency. Example: A personwith an anxiety disability experiences severe gastric distress whenoverstressed. The resulting nausea causes him to become disoriented and dizzy.He falls to the ground and cannot rise. His dog is trained to retrieve hisanti-nausea medication and bring it to him.
· Clearing the airway. Example: A person with nausea due to a change in medicationhas been vomiting uncontrollably and has become dehydrated. She has collapsedon the floor, unable to move or to think clearly. She is at risk of choking onher vomit or becoming even further dehydrated. Her dog is trained to clear thevomit from her airway and to bring her a bottle of water.
· Identifyhallucinations. Example: A personwho experiences hallucinations sees a person who should not be in the room withhim. Is this a hallucination he can safely ignore, or is it an intruder? Hisdog is trained to go and greet any person his handler points at, on command.The man points at the intruder and instructs the dog to "go say hi."The dog moves in the direction indicated, but can find no person to greet, sohe returns to his handler. The handler now knows the person he sees is ahallucination and calls his doctor for help instead of calling the police foran intruder.