DEAR JOAN: Do puppies-in-training to become service dogs have to have any type of paperwork or be registered or certified?
My friend has a puppy I am training to be her service animal, but she was told he needs to be registered and everything. Is this true?
We really need your help on this matter because the cops are harassing her. The puppy is only 5 months old right now. Given the weather we’ve been having, we’re just now beginning the outside training.
Flo Schaefer, Missouri
DEAR FLO: The federal Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for any state or local government to require service animals to be registered. It also permits private individuals to train dogs.
Puppies-in-training, however, are not yet service dogs so they don’t have the same rights as full-fledged service animals. In the eyes of the law, they are seen as pets, so they can’t go into places that don’t otherwise allow dogs.
I’m not sure what the police are hassling her about, but if you are taking the puppy into a store or restaurant that doesn’t permit pets, then you are breaking the law. Although it’s helpful when training a dog to put it in situations where it will be working, you have to get the permission of the property owner.
While you don’t have to register or certify the puppy as a service dog, you do have to obey the laws of your city and state regarding licensing and registration. If all dogs have to have it, then so does the puppy.
The puppy also doesn’t have to wear a vest, but some trainers opt for them as a way of letting the public know the puppy is being trained and shouldn’t be bothered, no matter how cute it is. The vest, however, is just a piece of clothing and doesn’t give you any special privileges or access to areas that dogs without vests couldn’t go.
DEAR JOAN: I read your column about Lindsay Wildlife’s great work. I do have a question.
We love and respect our wildlife visitors. We have numerous birds who come to our feeder and birdbaths. We make sure to keep them clean and available.
We have a hummingbird feeder and do the same. I have been putting the recommended ¼ cup sugar to 2 cups water in the feeder. After reading your column I am wondering if I should be doing something different.
Eileen, San Ramon
DEAR EILEEN: I had a number of letters after that column, which pointed out baby hummingbirds need a special formula, not sugar water. Several readers wrote in, concerned they were harming the babies with their feeders.
The baby hummers are fed by their mother and don’t visit flowers or backyard feeders until they are older and flying. By that time, they need the power surge the nectar provides, and are not being harmed.
So no, you don’t need to do anything that you aren’t already. The mixture of sugar to water is correct, and as long as you keep the feeders clean and the nectar mold-free, you are providing sustenance to the teenage and adult hummingbirds.
For those who like feeding hummingbirds, try adding lots of flowering plants to your yards. The natural nectar is better for the hummers and the plants will attract insects, which the hummers also eat.
Does service puppy-in-training need special papers?