The History of the Service Dog, Part IV — Protected by Law

In celebration of International Assistance Dog Week, NEADS guest blogger Michele Fournier takes us on a journey through the history of service dogs. Come back each day this week to learn more about the history of working canines!


Signs like these are more and more common, since the inclusion of service dogs in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Today, it is important to remember that service dogs cannot be refused entry into any location, or building that their owner has a right to enter. By law, they are permitted to enter schools, offices, or travel in the passenger portion of an airplane and their owner cannot be required to pay additional fees for the companion dog or be refused permission to enter. Because all of this has come about since the 1990’s and is still so new to the public, we must continue to educate employees in restaurants, businesses, schools and other locations about the service dog and their role. The service dog of today is a highly trained and specialized assistant and companion. Trained to complete tasks such as opening doors, picking up dropped items, notifying their human partner of the sound of a fire alarm, or calming the fears of an autistic child; the service dog of today has little resemblance to the average household pet. These animals are truly capable of transforming the life of their human partner. They serve not only as a helper but as a companion, friend and family member.

For more information:
Burke, Alex. “The History of Service Dogs.”

Cohen, Jennie. “Assistance Dogs: Learning New Tricks for Centuries.”  August 8, 2011

Lobell, Jarrett A. & Powell, Eric.  “More than Man’s Best Friend. “ Archeological Institute of America. Vol 63, No 5 Sept/Oct 2010.

“Service Dogs Through History—Work, Friendship, and Loyalty.”

Schwartz, Marion. A History of Dogs in the Early Americas. “The Creation of the American Dog.” Yale University Press: 1997.

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