Service Dogs in the community

Service Dogs are within communities. Not long ago Louisiana had far if few between Service Dogs, many came from schooled or private trainers and the general public had little if no contact with those who used them. Within the past decade there has been more awareness of ALL the jobs that a Service Dog can do for others and many breakthroughs on research with canines all together.

While many of refer to these dogs as "Service Dogs" who use them many groups refer to them as Assistance Dogs or highlight the job they do such as Guide, Hearing, Medical Alert, Seizure Assist, etc. The list is growing with the jobs that they can assist with everyday.
Many dogs serve Police, Armed Forces and detect anything from Drugs, weapons, cancer and bedbugs to name a few.

Everyone of these jobs is very specialized and even for Service Dogs that assist the Disabled the tasks become very specific to each disablity. 
Whether or not we realize it, there is a growing number of Owner- Handler Trainers because of the need for service dogs to fit tailored tasks for multiple disabilities. The ADA provides a very vague description of Service Dogs but in some cases allows much more than state laws regarding the rights of a Disabled person with their SD. 
Support groups can provide guidelines which keep the public safe from unruly dogs but we must keep in mind that too many rules could keep some very knowledgable trainers from helping those who could not afford or raise funds for an expensive SD. Many of these could afford the care, vet care etc. but not the intial cost. Not that ALL dogs are cut out for the job and pressure that it takes. They should be temperament tested, obedience trained, task trained and then Public Access Tested. Service Dogs in training should be tested multiple times throughout their careers.

Within the community Service Dogs become accepted through example of good behavior in public. Providing the education for others who have never seen them becomes part of using them in States and businesses with employees who have not seen them before. Carrying the printed law becomes important for those who can not travel without their help.

There has been talk of "Fake Service Dogs" and there are those who misuse the law made to help the disabled that use Service Dogs. I don't think they truly think that they are breaking the law when in fact the federal law states you must be a trainer, handler or a disabled person to utilize them. They are considered a "prosthesis" to aid the disabled such as a walker, cane or prosthetic limb.
Since the addition of many other SDs such as medical alert it can make it hard for the general public to see what "invisible" disability they mitigate.
It can be hard for them to understand, but we don't want to share our personal medical history with strangers. When I've been asked, "What is wrong with you?", I respond with none of your business, but my dog does perform Medical Alert and mobility tasks for me.
Whether to allow them to pet her or not is strictly a private thing for each individual. There are sometimes that I will allow it and other times I strictly can not because of health issues on any given day. Many trainers can train an SD to respond to a "say hello" cue so that they know the difference in duty and non- duty. Not ALL Service Dogs respond or can do this.
Overall if you have not trained dogs or know of a group to support with key training issues Owner Training may NOT be the route for you in your journey to acquire a well behaved and fully trained Service Dog. In the community that you live in the key to being welcomed is having a well behaved Service Dog in Training or Service Dog. I would recommend getting advice or help from other trainers in your area who have knowledge and experience at molding skills into tasks that will mitigate your Disabilities.