Midlands couple learns the difference between service dog, dog i - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Midlands couple learns the difference between service dog, dog in training

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A Midlands couple is learning the difference between a service dog and a dog in training.

At eight weeks Molli Ann is cute and playful like most puppies, but she's got big paws to fill.  David Voss hopes she'll be someone he can lean on, literally as a service dog.

"If she's at least 50 pounds or more I'll be able to lean on her a little bit," said David.

David's had at least twelve severe falls in the last seven years, due to a loss of feeling in his legs, a medical condition that eventually led to amputation.

"I have no balance," said David.  "Your big toe is you balance toe and I have neither one of them.

That's why they got Molli Ann, to train as a service dog, but as a puppy she falls into a gray area of the law.

According to Jennifer Rogers at PAALS, Molli Ann doesn't meet the federal guidelines as a service dog, but she does fall under state law as a service dog in training. 

Managers at the Christopher Towers had raised issues with the Voss's about allowing Molli Ann to walk the halls.

"They're treating her like a pet, not like a service dog," David added.

There's a difference.  Service dogs and dogs in training can go anywhere their trainers can go.

The rules require owners to carry their dogs through common areas of the Towers, don't apply to service dogs.  Out of town managers for the Christopher Towers, say they'll make reasonable accommodation for Molli Ann, but Molli's trainer says the Voss' shouldn't have to produce any paperwork.

"Even if the doctor did not give him that letter of necessity by law he has every right due to his disability to have that dog," said Jake, Molli Ann's trainer.

When it comes to service dogs there's no legally binding registration, no national certification. 

Ultimately, it's not the dog that holds the legal rights; it's the person with the disability. 

The Voss's know owning Molli Ann they'll need to learn their laws and responsibilities that come with a service dog.

"We're just learning, but we're learning really quick," said Katerine.

They're hopeful businesses and others will do the same. 

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