Episode 55: Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals with Jennifer Kolar

Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

With Special Guest: Jennifer Kolar, Atlas Assistance Dogs

Many people are confused about the differences between emotional support animals, service animals, and the laws and rights that each type of animal has under the ADA, especially with the recent Department of Transportation ruling defining emotional service animals as pets.

In this episode, Tami interviews Jennifer Kolar, founding member of Atlas Assistance Dogs, about these differences and laws. Listen in to hear several ways a service dog could help someone with fibromyalgia live a richer and more fulfilling life. Learn what it takes to have a service dog, what businesses have a right to ask you about your service dog, and the rights service animals have under the ADA.

Atlas Assistance Dogs provides an affordable way for individuals to train their dogs to be qualified service dogs.

Key Points

  • An emotional support animal, just by their very presence alone, provides comfort. The animal isn’t trained to do anything to directly mitigate a person’s disability or symptoms. 
  • A service animal, as defined under the American with Disabilities Act, is a dog or a miniature horse who has been individually trained to provide at least one task that mitigates the needs of somebody with a disability. 
  • We’re not trying to support people to have a life in spite of their disability. We’re trying to say, “Hey, let’s have the life you can have because of it.”
  • There are only two things under the American with Disabilities Act that a business can ask you about your service dog. 
  • Service dogs really are about providing a massive amount independence for the individual.
  • Service dogs can also really help somebody who’s a caretaker.

About Jennifer Kolar & Atlas Assistance Dogs

Jennifer has been surrounded by animals since she was a young child. She’s always had at least one dog at her side, and has been active in training since before she was 10. Dogs have been her constant companions; just as she has seen many a stray or shelter dog through fear and reactivity issues, they have seen her through hard times, too.

In 2008, Jennifer started actively volunteering, training, and working with service dog organizations. She has witnessed firsthand the amazing difference well-trained dogs can make in the lives of veterans, other adults, and children with physical, emotional, or psychological challenges. She is driven to help as many people and dogs as possible experience this transformation.

Jennifer is a founding board member of Atlas Assistance Dog and currently serves as the organization’s vice president.

Atlas Assistant Dogs helps to overcome the barriers people with disabilities face in trying to get a service dog to help overcome some of the challenges of everyday life. 

Atlas also knows that many people are capable of training their own service dogs, but there’s very limited support and resources available for owner training. To fill this gap, Atlas focuses on helping owners succeed at becoming trainers of their own animals. Trained Atlas volunteers work hands on with their clients, to guide them in their training, and to help them really just live fuller and more independent lives with the support of their service dog.

Connect with Jennifer and Atlas Assistance Dogs at AtlasDog.org.

Links & Resources

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Listener Shoutout

Just wanted to say thank you! I’ve had chronic pain for 7 years and have recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Your book contains a wealth of information, and will help me plan ahead to manage this condition. 

“I’ve also just listened to the year in review podcast while I went on a gentle walk. I’ll listen again and write the lists later on today.  

“I’ve seen/read/listened to/been told a lot of information about how to manage chronic pain over the last few years, but the combo of stuff you put together really resonates with me as a holistic approach.  I’m a boom and buster (currently completely overwhelmed by the last couple of week’s festivities), so stumbling on your stuff was the best happy accident ever!

~ Deb in New Zealand

Episode Highlights

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