At Guardian Angels, we put a major focus on understanding the law. It’s important to keep in mind that the law is not as simple as you may think because there is federal law and state law as well different regulations for the DOD, the VA, HUD, and the DOT.
There are also a variety of variables among a lot of pieces of the law which is why we focus on teaching the law to our newly paired teams. This helps to ensure that they know what their rights are. We also work with merchants on service dog laws to ensure they also know their rights.
“I teach a lot. I have extensive videos. I have been all over the country teaching very large groups of realtors, judicial systems attorneys, business owners, manager groups, etc. because they all need to know how to navigate through the convolutes of the law and have the right information. The merchants need to know what their rights are, how to recognize a proper working service dog, and what to do if it’s not,” said Carol Borden, Chief Executive Officer, and Founder.
“They also need to know how to recognize an imposter dog and what to do. As well as our own recipients, they have to know what’s okay and what’s not okay with their service dog. When they need to respect others in certain situations while being resected themselves.”
PAWS Act of 2021
The most recent development is the service dog law, Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members Act of 2021, or the PAWS Act of 2021. This bill requires the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to implement a grant program to help pair service dogs with eligible veterans. Organizations that receive these grants will be required to provide veterinary health insurance coverage, travel expenses, and hardware for each service dog and veteran that participates in the program.
According to Congress.gov, Eligible veterans for this program are those who:
- Who are enrolled in the VA health care system
- Have been evaluated and treated for post-traumatic stress (PTS) but remain diagnosed with PTS
- May benefit from a service dog
- Agree to successfully complete training through an eligible organization.
Eligible veterans will be required to see a VA health care provider at least once every 180 days to ensure they continue to benefit from the service dog.
Eligible organizations are nonprofit organizations must meet the following requirements:
- Must meet publicly available standards set forth by the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans
- Must possess expertise in the needs of veterans with PTSD
- Must agree to cover all costs more than the grant amount to guarantee the benefits of the program for the veteran
- Must agree to reaccept or replace a service dog provided to a veteran
- Must submit an application to the VA
How is Guardian Angels Involved with Florida Service Dogs Laws?
Several years ago, Carol was asked by a Florida state senator to advise on service dog law. We set up some new state laws in the state of Florida, creating penalties for both imposter dogs and for merchants that refused actual working teams. What many people don’t understand is that the state law can’t supersede a federal law, but it can create laws to support federal law and address things that the federal law did not address.
Carol went to Tallahassee several times, where she testified in favor of a new service dog bill, which was passed into law. Once that happened, other states picked up on these actions. Carol was also asked to review multiple drafts of a service dog bill for Michigan which was voted into law. One of our Michigan service dogs was the first to receive a Michigan Service Dog patch.
Learn How You Can Contribute to The Guardian Angels Mission
To help us continue our mission of providing life-changing service dogs to our veterans in need, donate today! Your generous donations help us to feed, train, and pair our service dogs with recipients to help them regain their independence. Click here to check out our latest campaigns.