The short answer is you do not and you should not. In the USA, there is no
federal certification or registration that is recognized by the American
Disabilities Act (ADA). There are online companies that sell ‘official service
dog certifications’ that are knowingly misleading the public and those looking
to get an SD for legitimate reasons. These companies are one of the primary
reasons that pets in public, aka ‘fake’ service dogs, are becoming a huge
Some states, counties, and cities, do have voluntary registrations, however,
ask for any type of registration, documentation, or
certification. Anyone who presents such documentation is either uniformed
and/or trying to pass off a pet or emotional support animal as an SD.
Many service dog training programs do provide certification of professional
training from their organization, however, these only ‘prove’ that
trained the dog. This type of certification should be thought of more like a
diploma, degree, or an ‘award of achievement’. Many SDs are owner trained
(OT) and therefore do not receive an official training certificate. Since the
ADA recognizes both OT and program dogs, no documentation of any kind is
required for public access.
The only way for a disabled person to get a ‘legitimate’ service dog is
training, training, and more training, whether through a reputable program or
OT, with the help of a professional trainer, a veterinarian, and an animal
behaviorist. Keep in mind that not every dog is cut out to be an SD, and it
can be for a variety of reasons such as temperament, health, and ability to
If you are truly disabled and you and your doctor feel an SD is right for you,
then do not do yourself a disservice by falling for one of these scam
ADA & Service Animals:
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP):