Service Dog Registration Voluntary In Michigan

Carma Poodale Service dog

In April a bill received approval in both the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate and was on its way to Sen. Knezek's desk. The bill was to protect veterans who use a service dog for PTSD and TBI. This bill would bring Michigan state laws that protect service dog handlers to be in line with the federal ADA laws. The wording had to be changed on the bill to also include non veterans who used service dogs for psychological disorders. 

In 3 of the bills it would be illegal to harm a service animal and to refuse service to a service dog handlers from public areas such as restaurants , theaters, retail stores, etc.. 

The 4th bill will have a voluntary registration through the state of Michigan. Those who registered their dogs would receive a ID card, a patch for the dog's vest and ID tags for the dog. 

On Tuesday Oct. 20th Governor Snyder signed the bills to make them state law. This has mixed emotions between SD handlers. Some say this new law will make it easier for service dog handlers to get access to public places without being denied. Others say this will make things worse. What about those who choose not to register their dogs? Will this cause them to have more access problems?

According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
  • A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.
  • When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
My question is, how will they decide which service animals they will register? Will it require a doctor's note? Will it require medical records or will they just take someones word that the animal is a trained service dog? 

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.

If handlers register their dogs and starts to show a ID card when entering a business, that business will expect ALL handlers to have a ID card. Would you like to have to show your license every time you wanted to enter a grocery store or a restaurant? If the ADA was created to give those who are disabled a equal treatment then why does Michigan think that a registration is needed? 

I know I personally do not want to show a ID card or Carma Poodale wear a badge in order to have less access problems. It's already bad enough that there are companies online that you can order ID cards, vasts and patches for  that have no legal standing in a court of law if the dog is not a trained service dog. 
Written by Bunny Allen


  1. Having a voluntary ID is problematic at best. As you said, businesses can begin to think they are required and deny those without them. The other big problem is the probability that the registration requires a doctor's note. Many doctors already pass out verification for handicap parking at the drop of a hat, people will be lining up to have doctors fill out a form that makes their pets "official" fake service dogs. California has a voluntary registration also, there was an article a year or two ago about all the fake dogs with official state tags, wish I had bookmarked it.

    Michigan laws needed to be updated, the 4th bill however does not help.

    1. I agree that there are many doctors who write letter for pets just because their patient request it. There are also many doctors who may know their patient is disabled but doesn't really approve the use of a service dog so those people who truly have a need for a service dog may not get the papers they require.

      They also do not mention training of dogs. There are a lot of companies out there that say they train service dogs but the dogs turn out to be untrained in task. I just hope other states do not follow suit.
      Thank you for stopping by and letting me know your views on this topic.


We love to hear from you.