What is a Hearing Dog?
The ADA defines a service dog as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. A Hearing Dog is a trained service animal that assists a deaf or severely hard of hearing individual by responding to a specific set of noises such as a ringing telephone, a knock on the door, a crying baby, an alarm clock, an oven timer, a car horn, or an emergency vehicle siren. Such animals may be referred as, 'hearing dogs', 'hearing ear dogs', 'signal dogs', or 'hearing guide dogs'.
How can a Hearing Dog be identified?
Often, a Hearing Dog can be identified by a bright orange or yellow leash. Some dogs may wear a 'jacket' identifying them as a Hearing Dog. Dogs that have completed a specialized training program are often issued some type of certification, indicating that the animal has successfully completed auditory assistance training. However, not having any of these identifiers does not preclude a dog from being a legitimate service animal.
What is the legal status of Hearing Dogs?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (MGL, Chap. 585) protects the right of service dogs to accompany their owners into all places of public accommodation, ride on all public transportation, and live in any type of public housing. Additionally, several pieces of Federal legislation also protect and expand this right. These include... a. The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), Title III. b. Air Carrier Access Act (1986) c. Fair Housing Amendments Act (1988) d. The Rehabilitation Act (1973) However, it is clearly the responsibility of the owner to insure that their animal is well behaved. Dogs that are disruptive can, under current law, be excluded from places of public accommodation.
Must a dog be formally certified?
No. Since there is no nationally accepted standard with which to evaluate training and performance of a Hearing Dog, certification is not a requirement under the law. Furthermore, no one can require an individual to show proof that their animal is a Hearing Dog. However, it is recommended that a dog receive formal training to insure that the use of such an animal provides maximum benefit to the owner.
What breeds make the best Hearing Dogs?
Hearing Dogs come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. It is the individual attributes of the dog that are important. Examples of desirable traits would include a mild temperament, good attention span, and above average intelligence.
How much will a Hearing Dog cost?
Formal training of a service dog is a process that involves time and active participation on the part of the owner. The cost of such training varies, it is best to contact a certified training program to receive reliable estimates on cost factors. Civic and community service organizations may be able to assist needy candidates with the cost of this training.
Where can I get more information?
For general information on service animals, please visit the ADA.gov Revised Standards (2010) for Service Animals:
For hearing dog training facilities in Massachusetts, contact:
NEADS World Class Service Dogs
P.O. Box 1100
Princeton, MA 01541
(978) 422 - 9064
To email, click on above link, then navigate to "Contact" heading and click on that heading.