Leave Service Dogs Alone!!
If you see a dog with badges saying that it’s in training or working, please don’t give attention to them. That includes eye contact and talking to them. The handlers are in public with these animals for health reasons or to desensitize them to situations, and it makes it exceedingly difficult to do when someone is in their face. Not only are you distracting the dog, but the handler as well. They are building a team and the handler is trying to teach the dog to focus on the handler. DO NOT DISTRACT THEM.
If you want to know more, pay attention to only the handler and ask them questions. Most handlers will be ok with it, but don’t take it personally if they can’t chat. Avoid making assumptions. Just because the handler seems perfectly able-bodied does not mean they are training the dog for someone else. The are many hidden illnesses that cause debilitating symptoms that you can’t know about, and not everyone will want to disclose their health history to anyone who asks. It’s simply no one else’s business.
The Government of Alberta requires service animals to pass a certification test prior to that animal having full public access rights.
A service dog in training technically has no rights to be anywhere a typical pet dog can’t go, but once the dog is certified that changes. Responsible handlers will typically call in advance to ensure it’s ok for them to be there and have made arrangements prior to arriving. If you have concerns, you can ask for the Alberta government issued ID for certified teams. Animals in training do not have this ID and it is up to business owners to make the call to give permission for the team to be there.
This ID is provided by the Government of Alberta. Other IDs, especially those provided online, really have no meaning and are not indicative that the animal has passed required testing.
Emotional support and therapy animals do not have the same rights in public and businesses as certified service animals.
More information can be found at http://albertaservicedog.ca/Alberta_Service_Dog/Home.html and https://www.alberta.ca/service-dog-information.aspx
Some dog handlers may get overly defensive if confronted. Some may not have proper requirements to have their animal in public. Others may simply have enough to deal with and don’t feel they need to answer to you. Please remember to be kind, and be careful making judgement.