What is the Assistance Dog Advocacy Project


The Assistance Dog Advocacy Project (ADAP) is a project of Karl’s Kids Program, Inc. a non-profit registered through the state of Florida. We are also a 501(c)(3) public charity. To find out more about Karl’s Kids visit our corporate website at Karl’s Kids Program, Inc.

The purpose of the Assistance Dog Advocacy Project is to educate the community and people with disabilities on assistance dogs. ADAP also works with other organizations to advocate for assistance dogs and their handlers. ADAP is different than some advocacy groups as we educate all sides on their legal rights. We try to promote education as the way to solve any problems that may arise on housing, work, and public access in the community.

ADAP works closely with Service Dog Central (website and forum) on several of our activities.   Service Dog Central

Kirsten Richards, the founder and owner of Service Dog Central, sits on the Board of Directors of Karl’s Kids Program, Inc. and is the Director of the Assistance Dog Advocacy Project.

Day to day activities of ADAP are under the guidance of Theresa A. Jennings, Founder and Executive Director of Karl’s Kids Program, Inc.

Jessica Thompson is the Fundraising Chairman for ADAP.

The ADAP Advisory Board consists of Kirsten Richards, Theresa A. Jennings, Jessica Thompson along with other volunteers of ADAP. The majority of the Advisory Board and other volunteers of ADAP are themselves people with disabilities and part of an assistance dog team.


ADAP Activity – Alert Presentation, 02/01/2013

ADAP Activity – February 1 – Gainesville, FL

“Assistance Dog or Trained Companion Dog to Meet Your Needs” was the topic of our presentation given during an ALERT Meeting and Luncheon attended by over 160 members and guests.

The presentation was offered by ADAP at no cost to the group as part of our Community Education Activities.

Speaker was Theresa A. Jennings, Executive Director of ADAP. Also attending were Victoria Warfel and her Border Collie Warfel’s Flying Zola C.G.C. aka “Zoe” who  demonstrated proper behavior and some tasks that an Assistance Dog and jobs that a Trained Companion Dog are able to do in the home for their owners.

Civil Rights For Individuals With Disabilities

Just a FYI reminder when speaking or posting to an individual or to the public on the civil rights (or on violations against these civil rights) of a person with a disability ….

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a Civil Rights Law that was passed through Congress and then signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA was revised through Congress and later signed by President W. Bush in 2008. The ADA is a comprehensive Civil Rights Law for individuals with disabilities.

The ADA is a written document that can not listen to a complaint of discrimination nor take action on a discrimination complaint. The power of enforcement of the ADA comes from further actions of Congress. After they passed the ADA, Congress then mandated various Federal Regulatory Agencies to oversee and enforce the different parts/Titles of the ADA through their Agencies’ Regulatory Laws.

Three of the Titles of the ADA and their regulatory agencies that are of high interest to SD trainers and handlers are Titles I, II, and III.
Title I: Employment — Regulatory Agency Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Title II: Public Services — Regulatory Agency Dept. of Justice (DOJ)
Title III: Public Accommodations — Regulatory Agency Dept. of Justice (DOJ)

The ADA is NOT an organization of people. When you hear that someone’s civil rights were violated you should NOT advise them to “report that violation” to the ADA. The ADA – an act not an organization – will not as it can not process or investigate a violation. Anyone suffering such a discrimination should be advised to go through the proper sequence of reporting violations to the correct Federal Agency.

Definition of Service Animal

Default Revised Dept. of Justice Definition of Service Animal

Federal Register
Published September 15, 2010
Effective Date March 15, 2011Signed by Attorney General Eric Holder
July 23, 2010Final regulations

Revised definition of “service animal.”

“Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”

Definitions from other Regulatory Agencies may be slightly different than that of the DOJ concerning Public Access and some Housing Issues.


Civil Rights Violations and State Statute Violations Dealing with SD laws …

A local law enforcement officer can arrest and transport to jail a violator of their State Statutes if their state has such a SD statute. Some states do not. If the state does, then it is an easy matter for dispatch to verify Statute for onsite officer. Officer also has computer access/state statute book to verify statute # etc. for reports and arrest mittimus. All of this is reviewed as part of paperwork going to judge for First Appearance with copies going to other agencies.

Federal violations are handled (arrest and transport) via Fed. Marshall’s office or other Fed. agency though a Federal Inmate can be temp. housed at a county jail for a specific reason such as attending Fed. court in local area or between transport legs.

Violations of ADA (non-violent offense) are handled mainly through the Dept. of Justice investigation and mitigation departments and if deemed necessary by the DOJ will go into a higher court legal system.

Off topic of ADA level Civil Rights — When individuals saw scenes of violence and arrests based on Civil Rights violations (such as was going on in the 50’s and 60’s) they were witnessing the involvement of the Fed. Marshall’s Office and FBI with backup from locals because of State Statutes against such acts of violence. At times when the need arose, the National Guard was also called out by their State Governor as they are a state level organization. This level of reaction is not brought about by an access dispute of a SD team going into a grocery store, restaurant, or other place of business.

Title I of the ADA

Title I of the ADA – Agency, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Title I of the ADA makes it unlawful for any employer with 15 or more employees (including a state or local government employer) to discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee because of a disability in any aspect of employment. In addition to protecting qualified applicants and employees with disabilities from employment discrimination, one ADA provision – the “association” provision — protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on their relationship or association with an individual with a disability, whether or not the applicant or employee has a disability.”

Therapy Dog or Emotional Support Dog in Rental

Q. If I have my dog made a therapy dog or a emotional support dog can it then live in a apartment that doesn’t allow dogs?

A. Therapy Dogs are pet dogs that can be owned by either disabled or non-disabled owners.

Per Delta Society:
Therapy animals and their handlers are trained to provide specific human populations with appropriate contact with animals. They are usually the personal pets of the handlers and accompany their handlers to the sites they visit, but therapy animals may also reside at a facility. Animals must meet specific criteria for health, grooming and behavior. While managed by their handlers, their work is not handler-focused and instead provides benefits to others. 

The owner/handler of a Therapy Dog does not have additional rights in Housing or Public Access over any other pet owner.

Per Service Dog Central:
An Emotional Support Animal is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. If a doctor determines that a patient with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal, the doctor write letters supporting a request by the patient to keep the ESA in “no pets” housing or to travel with the ESA in the cabin of an aircraft.

If your treating doctor or medical team deem that you have a disabling mental illness and enters such into your medical records then you may be able to have your dog live with you in no-pet housing. Only landlords in certain types of housing are required to accommodate you and allow your dog to live in the rental.


Guide Dog As Example?

So many times when you read an article in the news or in a discussion of young children using Service Dogs you see the example, “They would not forbid a child taking their Seeing Eye (Guide Dog) …”

One major point not taken into consideration is that national (most) guide dog schools do not train and give guide dogs to young children so access issues are not even part of the issue.

The Seeing Eye (Morristown, NJ):     “Applicant must be between the ages of 16 and 75, motivated and emotionally stable, capable of walking one to two miles a day, and able to receive and implement instruction.”

Southeastern Guide Dogs:     “Age: You must be at least 18 years old.** There is no upper age limit.”  and  “**For children between the ages of 10 and 18, see information on our Canine Connections program.”

“Good stewardship demands that we carefully place all of our dogs, so these career-changed dogs are hand-picked for other valuable areas of service. When we find a particularly gentle and loyal dog that must be career changed, we match it with a visually impaired child through our Canine Connections program.

Our Canine Connections Program builds a bridge between the child of today and the independent guide dog handler of tomorrow. Visually impaired children gain confidence as they learn how to care for the dog’s needs: feeding, grooming, walking, and playing. The children gain a faithful companion, as well as a sense of ownership, responsibility and maturity. And when the day comes for them to train with a guide dog, they’ll experience a smooth transition to freedom and independence.”

Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB):     “Q: How old do you have to be to train with a Guide Dog?     A: Because it takes a level of maturity, discipline and commitment to work with a Guide Dog, the majority of our students are 16 and older. There is no upper age limit for people who have the health and stamina to work with a Guide Dog.”

Guide Dogs of America:     “Applicants should be at least 18 years old, but there is no upper age limit.”

Fidelco:     “Orientation and mobility training-We require our applicants to have “O&M” training before being considered for a Fidelco guide dog. This includes using a white cane, learning street crossings in your community and the like. O&M training can be obtained at a local agency for the blind.”

Leader Dogs for the Blind:     “Leader Dog recipients must be at least 16 years old, …”

Pilot Dogs:
“Pilot Dogs, Inc. does ask our prospective students to be a minimum of a junior in high school. The applicant needs to be legally blind and physically capable of caring for and receive benefit from a guide dog.”

Guide Dogs of Texas:     “Each applicant needs to have had training using a long cane and be sufficiently mobile to work effectively with a dog.”     and     “… the criteria of being legally blind, being a resident of Texas, being at least 17 years of age, knowing and walking routes independently, and crossing streets without sighted assistance.”


Going Undercover for News Article

From Fox23.com              Regular pets passing as service dogs
Published: 11/01 11:11 am

FOX23 Reporter Janna Clark has a yorkshire terrier, named Penny. Janna went online to see if she could get Penny a service dog vest and an identification card. Susan says real service dogs aren’t required to wear vests, and their handlers aren’t required to carry an ID card.    …  

 Turns out, Janna didn’t have to give any proof of being disabled or that Penny was a qualified service dog. All Janna had to do was pay $57. And in less than a week, Penny’s service vest and ID card came in the mail.



Certified vrs. Registered Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dogs are not Assistance or Service Dogs. Therapy Dogs are pet dogs with special training and of the proper temperament to work with their owner around and for other people.

Most national organizations register their teams but do not certify them. A registered team may or may not have gone through training with a specific organization. The registration of the team in most cases means that the team signed up, paid a testing fee along with submitting an application, and went for an evaluation. If they passed their evaluation (test) with a set minimum score they then were eligible to be registered with that organization.

When a team is *certified* that implies that the organization requires certain training (classes through them) over a recognized length of time, normally has additional requirements like a minimum number of supervised visits, and possibly several different tests. This particular organization then certifies that the team has met their standards. There are fewer organizatins that certify as it requires a more indepth relationship between the team and the organization. Certifying organizations normally also monitor the team to make sure they are complying with their regulations and in some cases also mentor and do additional training with their teams.  

National Therapy Organizations:

Therapy Dog International (TDI) – Registered      http://tdi-dog.org/

Therapy Dogs, Inc.- Registered     http://therapydogs.com/

Delta Society – Registered     http://www.deltasociety.org/



Increase Offering of PSDs for Disabled Vets


I am seeing an increase in the number of training groups for PSDs for disabled vets. My concern is do these trainers have experience training PSDs (or under the guidance of experienced trainers of PSDs) and do they have a background working with people with these type of disabilities? Next there are the ones who are specialising using rescue dogs. How many are balanced in their approach and how many have rescue as their main goal? And then the bottom line – how many are really dedicated to helping our vets and how many are looking at this as the newest and very successful marketing tool?