As we come to the end of national service dog month I think of both on all the things service dogs do to help the disabled, and how many people use the ADA to take their puppies, or dogs into places they don’t belong.
Service dogs do tons of things including guide the visually impaired and blind, seizure response, alert the deaf and hard of hearing to sounds, pull wheel chairs, help people with mobility impairments walk, help people with PTSD, and people with Autism and other mental illnesses.
The last three it depends on the person, and how their disability effects them.
The fact is if you ask most service dog users if you didn’t have a disability would you want to bring a dog with you? The answer from most is a resounding no. They will list off all the things they have to think about before leaving their house. Being told they can’t have the dog here. At times being kicked out of places. The people who pet their dogs. The laughing, the pointing and other sorts of things.
Now the question is will all of these things that make being a service dog user bad why are there so many? Because the fact is they do so much for the disabled. They have saved many lives, and will go onto save many more in the future. They as individual dog make a difference in a person’s life. Simple test would be to see how many is type in service dog life changed and read some of the stories.
For me in the future I hope that is what will happen. As of for now I think of the differences they have made in others lives and wait.
Now I have the other side of this coin called service dogs the people who use the law to their advantage to fake a service dog to take their puppy or dog everywhere. Some and I hope only a few will wonder why this is a bad thing. The reason is every time a fake service dog barks, pees on the floor, eats off the table, growls at someone, or anything else they might do they make service dogs and guide dogs look bad.
The shop owner assumes because Pinky pees on the floor so will the others. He assumes because Pinky’s owner hands him a card that says service dog registration everyone does. So when the real handler, who knows the ADA goes in, and they don’t have a card the owner of the store, or the man at the court house assumes they can turn that guide dog handler away.
The ADA says that emotional comfort is not a task. And that the tasks have to relate to your disability. For me that is guiding around things, stopping at curbs and all the other things guide dogs do. For some mainly mental health issues they crave having the dog with them for the comfort. This is a term in the service dog world that is called a hugger. They want their dog with them to make them feel safe, and some even drag their puppies around, which means when the dog is old enough to do actually tasks they will be mentally fried.
Now I did not say all with mental health issues are like this many have service dogs that do real tasks for them. Whether it is leading them out of a building, alerting to something when they are zoned out. Doing a walk through the house to see if someone who shouldn’t be there is, is there. Support when walking because their medicine dizzy.
Service and guide dogs have been around for many years I hope the actions of a few don’t ruin it for all.