Ordinary citizens have a reputation for misunderstanding that a service dog is not just a pet, and that they have actual jobs and tasks to perform every day just like humans do.
“The best way to help overcome miscommunication, ignorance and prejudice about service dogs is to look at the actual federal law. I find that the law is very clear on what a service dog is, what they are not, and what they do…the law states that a service dog is defined as “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability … and that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals. Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals,” one website read.
Service dogs can be of help in numerous ways: to guide and assist blind people with orientation, to alert deaf people to sounds, assist people with mobility disabilities to pull their wheelchairs or retrieve items, warn people of an imminent seizure or low and high blood sugar, remind people with psychiatric disabilities to take medication, assist veterans with new complicated mental and cognitive disabilities with activities of daily living, detect bomb threats, conduct search and rescue missions, and uncover harmful chemical and/or drug substances.
These dogs do their individual, unique jobs with remarkable skill, patience, obedience and tireless loyalty. Some commentators might argue that they work harder than humans do, and I would likely agree with them.
Service dogs are allowed into publicly owned services by the Americans with Disability Act and under the act the following is required: “service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents him from using these devices. Individuals who cannot use such devices must maintain clear control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.”
Ami Moore stated, “Building meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships with service dog owners and local businesses takes patience and hard work on everyone’s part, and I for one, think that it is worth the effort.”
It is my personal belief that the relationship between service dogs and their owners and the public eye is built on a mutual exchange of respect, patience, and guided understanding. Once that cornerstone is set, every day routines become more manageable and easier to go through as a service dog owner, and the public has a greater appreciation for our four-legged heroes.