Is it Illegal to Interact With or Pet a Service Dog?

service dog albany

The quick answer is no, it’s not illegal but you still shouldn’t do it. 

There have been many occasions when I’ve happened upon a service dog and its handler anywhere from Albany International Airport in Albany, NY to Cracker Barrel Restaurant in East Greenbush, NY and I’ve had to fight the urge to shower it with praise and affection. But that’s exactly what is expected of me (and you). To draw attention to the dog would distract it from the job at hand, which is assisting the human to whom it’s been assigned. And that job could mean the difference between life and death, or injury, for the handler.

These dogs are specially trained to assist people with disabilities that include vision and hearing impairments, mental disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, seizure disorder and even diabetes. Distracting a dog who is on the job can become a danger for its human.

Please Don’t Pet Me .com is an organization that educates the public on proper service dog etiquette. Check out more about them here at:

Highlights from an online story from at titled One Human’s Tragic Mistake Reminds Us Why We Should Never Pet a Service Dog features a 16-year-old girl who suffers from epileptic seizures and a handful of other ailments. Her Service Dog is tasked to alert her 10 minutes before she has a seizure. By doing so, the teenager has time to find a safe place where she won’t injure herself when she seizes.

Even a seasoned Service Dog can be distracted when a human who doesn’t know better interacts with it. That’s reportedly what happened in this scenario. The Service Dog’s attention wavered, causing it to delay the seizure alert it was trained to deliver. The teen didn’t have time to get to a safe place and injured herself during a seizure.

What Else Should We Know About Service Dog Etiquette?

Handlers of these talented pups share 10 things they especially want outsiders to know about their service dogs here at

Among other things, they want us to know that they love their service dogs and that they are a lifeline.

If you’d like to learn more about service dogs and how they differ from therapy dogs check out this link:

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