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Don’t Panic! A Guide to Service Dog Transport in Emergencies

An emergency can be incredibly stressful for disabled individuals with service dogs. Beyond your own health concerns, the well-being of your furry partner adds another layer of worry, especially when emergency medical services (EMS) are involved. Here’s what you need to know about service dog transport in an emergency: We’ll equip you with the knowledge to feel prepared for situations requiring EMS transport, ensuring both your safety and your service dog’s.

Know Your Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the right of qualified individuals with disabilities to have their service dogs accompany them in all public places, including hospitals. This extends to ambulance transport as well. **EMS cannot deny you transport because of your service dog.** However, there are some situations where temporary separation might be necessary, such as:

* **Space limitations:** Ambulances are often cramped, and the presence of a large dog could hinder medical treatment.
* **Animal behavior:** If your service dog exhibits aggressive behavior that could compromise the safety of EMS personnel or other patients, temporary separation might be required.


Be Prepared

Here are some steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your service dog in an emergency:

  • Have a backup plan: Discuss with a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor what should happen to your dog if you’re transported by ambulance. This person could transport your dog or take them to a boarding facility.
  • ID and Medical Information: Ensure your service dog is clearly identified as a service animal. Carry a copy of their training documentation, registration with USSDR or enrollment in Service Dog Standards, as well as any relevant medical information, such as vaccination records.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Train your dog to be comfortable with strangers handling their leash or wearing a muzzle if necessary. Desensitization exercises can help reduce anxiety in unfamiliar situations.

Communication is Key

When EMS arrives, clearly communicate your status as a service dog handler. Explain your disability and how your dog assists you. If separation is necessary, discuss options with the EMS team. Let them know you have a backup plan and provide contact information for your designated caregiver.


* Stay calm and advocate for yourself and your dog.
* Be prepared to answer questions about your dog’s training and temperament.
* If you encounter any issues with service dog access, document the details and consider filing a complaint with the ADA.

By planning ahead and understanding your rights, you can ensure that even in an emergency, the bond between you and your service dog remains unbroken.





The United States Service Dog Registry (USSDR) has been helping Service Dog handlers for over 10 years. Learn more >




Service Dog Standards Profile Page

Often, people who suffer from invisible disabilities have trouble advocating for themselves and their canine partners. Service Dog Standards is here to help. Learn more >







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