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Does it hurt my employment opportunities if I have a service dog?

Veteran

Timothy Jessen New Concord, OH

I am thinking about getting a service dog trained for me. I suffer from PTSD pretty bad and my wife has suggested a few times that a service dog would help me with daily activities. I worry that it will hinder my employment opportunities bc I am getting ready to finish my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with an emphasis on Information Assurance and Security. That degree is going to put me in the cyber technology field and that is where I would like to be. I feel that having a service dog is going to force me to take a different route. I don’t mind not having a job but I don’t want having a service dog to hinder my chance of getting future employment. Any thoughts about all this? Please share.

19 February 2018 6 replies Career Advancement

Answers

Advisor

Keith Van Sickle Menlo Park, CA

Hi Timothy,
I agree with those who suggest you get the job first and then apply for an accommodation. Asking up front about your dog may make it harder for you to get a job in the first place. I used to be in charge of HR at my company and instituted a no dog policy because too many employees had problems with dogs (fear, allergies, cultural issues.) But if an employee had presented a case for their dog based on PTSD, I would have made an exception and worked something out.
Best of luck to you.

23 February 2018 Helpful answer

Advisor

Kelly Thrasher Denver, PA

Timothy, I have a service dog and am employed. I got him after I was hired though. Here's the issue; most people have no idea what an actual service dog is. It is not a therapy animal (not covered by the ADA). The ADA is enforced by the DOJ and technically if a company refuses to accommodate, it must show that it can not make the accommodation and be prepared to go to court over why it refused accommodation. That said, I would definitely get hired first and then put in for the accommodation. We have a hard enough time with PTSD stereo types. My quality of life is much better after I got my dog but again, I got hired, then applied for the accommodation. There are definitely certain jobs like working in a clean room that could not be accommodated but cyber security could be done 100% remotely. If you have any questions please reach out to me.

21 February 2018 Helpful answer

Advisor

Mary Beth Myford Fleetwood, PA

Hi Timothy,

First, do what you need to do for your own well being. If a service dog will improve the quality of your life, then get one. No matter where you work, companies want you and need you to be your best.

Second, don't get hired and then tell the company you need a service dog. I have had that happen where employees surprise us with necessary accommodations. While we always did what we could, no one appreciates being surprised.

You don't have to take your dog to the interview, and just like salary, I wouldn't bring up your need for a dog in the first interview. I would bring it up at the same time you bring up salary, when you and the hiring company want to negotiate.

The remote job market is growing, especially remote IT positions. Perhaps that would be a good option for you and your dog. You can search for remote jobs on Indeed or GlassDoor or CareerBuilder. Use a location of "Remote" or "Home Based". Flexjobs.com is a job board for remote or flexible job arrangements. There is a small fee for the person looking. I have been using it. They have lots of information on getting a flexible job on their site.

I hope this is helpful. Let me know if I can provide any more information.

Thank you for your service.

Mary Beth

Veteran

Brandon Dunn San Antonio, TX

I've actually taken my service dog on job interviews with the hope of them seeing how well behaved he is and how much calmer iam when he's there with me. All that has got me was well "we will call you "and they don't. If i had a small cute dog I'm sure they wouldn't have a problem but seeing as my service dog is a Rottweiler/ catahoula mix,well that is when they discriminate.

Advisor

William Smith Suffern, NY

Hi Timothy

I am a career consultant working with vets on their job search. You need to be aware that there are liability issues to the employer I.e. some employees may be allergic to dogs, some may be afraid of dogs, the animal may get aggressive etc. Only you know if this will help you move forward.

Just a heads up the website military .com has a lot of resources for vets looking for a job. They have relationships with companies that give hiring preference to vets.

Best of luck!
Bill Smith

Advisor

Leiza Brock Hilton Head Island, SC

If an employee were to ask to bring a service animal to work, that would be considered a “job accommodation”. By definition, a job accommodation is an adjustment to a job or work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to perform their job duties. All job accommodation requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. A request from an employee to bring a service animal to work can be processed like any other request for reasonable accommodation. This means that employers must consider the request, but do not have to automatically allow employees to bring their service animals to work.

A few resources as a reference:
• The Job Accommodation Network (“JAN”), a service of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is the leading source of expert, confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and provides one-on-one consultation to employers and employees, as well as service providers and others, free of charge.
• Here is a specific website from the Job Accommodation Network that addresses the topic of service animals specifically: https://askjan.org/media/servanim.html

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