The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through a toll-free ADA Information Line.

800 - 514 - 0301 (voice)
800 - 514 - 0383 (TTY)

Pawsitism, Inc. Document Library

For more information regarding the application process please refer to “Get Involved“, “Apply for a Dog” or email inquiries to

More About Service Dogs

What questions do employees have the right to ask to determine if it is a service dog? 

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

* Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, required that the dog demonstrated task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability. The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.

Pawsitism Inc. Service Dogs 

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that strives to provide a family with a personally and professionally trained service dog that will enhance the life of a child with autism and insure success through continuing education for the family.

Pawsitism Inc. service dogs are being trained to become assistance dogs for children with autism. You will see them wear service vests help identify them as a working dog and we will provide documentation to help you know what your rights are. They train for 18 months before going to their family.

For more information on service dogs through the American with Disabilities Act, refer to the ADA website or the ADA hotline, both listed above.

Service, Therapy, or Emotional Support?

What's the Difference?

Comparison Service Therapy Emotional Support
ADA covered: rights to bring animal into public establishments
Needs to tolerate a wide variety of experience
May live with their disabled owners even if no pets policy in place
May fly inside the airplane with their disabled owner
Primary function is to provide emotional support through companionship
Especially trained to assist just one person
Provide emotional support and comfort to many people

For the Community


  • Ask whether someone wants your help
  • Don’t grab someone’s arm, don’t pat their dog on the head, don’t touch their equipment.
  • Don’t make assumptions about a persons ability or inability to participate in an activity or do a task.
  • Don’t wear heavy perfumes. Many people have sensitivities to chemicals.
  • Always put the person first. They are a person with a disability, not a disabled person. Say a person with autism rather than a person who is autistic.
  • Avoid outdated terms like crippled, handicapped, retarded, wheelchair-bound or hearing-impaired.
  • Avoid using these empowering words like victim or suffers.
  • If you have trouble understanding someone with a speech disability, ask them to repeat the part you didn’t understand.
  • Use proper assistance dog etiquette. Make sure to announce the person before announcing their assistance dog. And always ask before you pet. Remember the dog is working and we don’t want to distract the service dog.

Assistance Dog Etiquette

So often when we see assistance dogs with their partners, or are immediately drawn to admire them and even pet. However well intentioned, it’s important we are aware of the rules surrounding working dogs. People with pet dogs generally enjoy engaging with those drawn to their canine partners. Just remember to observe the tips below, and enjoy your interaction with the team.

  • Don’t touch the dog without asking for permission first. This is a distraction it may prevent the dog from tending to the human partner. Be sensitive to the fact the dog is working and may be in the middle of a command or direction from its human. Most dogs need to be told to be released from working to interact with someone.
  • Please don’t feed the dog. It may be on a special diet. Food is the ultimate distraction to the working dog and can jeopardize the working assistant dog team. 
  • Speak to the person, not the assistance dog. Most handlers do not mind talking about assistance dogs or their dog specifically if they have time. In fact, they often enjoy it!
  • Do know whistle or make sounds to the dog as this again may provide a dangerous distraction.
  • Never make assumptions about the individual’s intelligence, feelings or capabilities. Offers of help are appreciated, but ask first. Usually, the human/dog team can get the task done by themselves. 
  • Always approach an assistance dog calmly and speak to their human partner before touching or addressing the dog.