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Service Dogs

We are lucky enough to share our lives with one working service dog and one service dog in training. They are both primarily trained as Diabetic Alert Dogs, however they improve our lives in numerous ways.My daughter Amelia has Type 1 diabetes. She was diagnosed when she was 6 years old. She keeps a blog about her life at college and how her dog(s) have helped her become an independent, productive member of society. I encourage everyone to read her blog so they can understand how dramatically these dogs can improve someones life.

I have the information from Amelia’s blog on Service Dogs as a resource for everyone. Understanding and supporting service dogs is one key to helping people with disabilities enjoy a healthy and successful life.

Please read Amelia’s blog at Dog Goes to College and thank you for your support.

Karen

Service dogs

ADA- service dog laws

There is Americans with Disabilities act information on my guide to public access page.  Basically it says it is a civil right of anyone with a disability to be assisted by a service dog anywhere the public is allowed if it has tasks relevant to their disability.  There are many different international laws regarding service dogs, as well as laws differing from state to state within the united states and things like the air carriers act, equal employment act, and fair housing act with relevant laws about service dogs.  The ADA is just the American standard to reference to in most situations with service dogs.

Examples of service dogs

Guide dogs, hearing alert dogs, seizure dogs, diabetic alert dogs, psychiatric service dogs, autism dogs, service dogs for veterans with PTSD, mobility dogs, dogs for people with structural issues, and more.

Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes, breeds and colors and personalities.  Big service dogs are great for a lot of jobs, but many people don’t realize that smaller dogs can be a good choice for certain jobs.  Diabetic alert dogs and hearing alert dogs, for example do not necessarily need to be very large, and it can be more convenient to have a smaller dog.  Smaller service dogs have a higher risk of the handlers facing discrimination because of all the spoiled little pocket pets people try to bring everywhere with them unnecessarily, so it is important to recognize their value.

Some other kinds of dogs that are not service dogs (and whether they are public working animals or not):

Police dogs (public working, separate public access laws apply), search and rescue dogs (public working, without public access protection) emotional support animals (private working), therapy dogs (public working but not protected for public access), service dogs in training (public working, and access varies by state law in the U.S.), cancer sniffing dogs (not working dogs, for now, at least).

Tasks

Tasks are what separate a service dog from an extraordinarily well-trained pet.  They are observable jobs a dog can be trained to do in order to mitigate the disability of their handler.  I have a page specifically for tasks, and you should look there for more info.

The most important thing to strive for with service dogs is to have everyone benefit from their work.
-Beneficial to disabled handlers 
This is the most acknowledged benefit of service dogs in the world.  It is the purpose for service dog’s existence- to help mitigate disabilities in ways no one and nothing else can.  Service dogs do amazing things, and allow many people who could not otherwise be independent live full and rich lives.
-Beneficial to dogs
I strongly believe that every dog selected as a service dog in training should have a guarantee of a good life and a loving home even if they wash out, that no washed out dogs or retired service dogs would ever go to a shelter or have a low quality of life.  That dogs, as a species should benefit from the role service dogs play in their partnership with mankind.  However this is not always the case.  We should not be supporting puppy mills or putting thousands more dogs in the already overflowing shelters every year for the sake of having a few program dogs.
-Beneficial to society
That while they are providing the greatest service to their handlers, they do not disrupt or disturb everyday life of others and that they inspire, motivate, and bring joy into passers-by.  That people can be educated to lovingly accept them and see the wonder in what they do.  That the way they allow their handlers independence and better lives allows the handlers to make a positive impact on the world and that handlers of service dogs strive for that.

That is what I’m striving for.  I want to achieve balance with service dogs, disabled handlers, society, and dogs.  I want to educate people and inspire people and help people.

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