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A PSA about service dogs!

(14 Posts)
Meekonsandwich Fri 21-Apr-17 13:07:49

I hope I'm not BU to make a PSA about service dogs!
It surprises me how little people know about service dogs and I'd like to give some life saving advice.

Service dogs are used by people with a disability. They are trained (sometimes by a charity sometimes by individuals) to perform a service or task.
They are seen in the eyes of the law as medical equipment, just like a wheel chair or oxygen tank.

You can have a service dog for ANY disability, blind, Deaf, epileptic, autistic, mobility problems, EDS, fibromyalgia, PTSD any disability, qualifies. So they might not be a guide dog. And no they might not be a labrador.
My retired hearing dog is a beagle.

The most important thing to remember is that they are working. This work could be saving the life of the handler.

If you approach the dog and make kissy noises, talk to the dog, stare at them, feed them, touch them or distract them in ANY way, you could be putting someone life at risk.

A lot of people say "ask if you can interact with the dog"
This is polite, but honestly? We get asked that question almost everywhere we go, multiple times. We feel bad saying no. But even 20 seconds of petting means that dog could miss an alert.
You're asking someone to risk their lives/health to pet a dog. some may say yes some may say no.

So please, don't ask. Teach your children not to ask or approach. They're people going about their business.

By law you're allowed to ask the handler "is your dog a service dog?" And "what tasks are they trained to perform" nothing else!! They dont have to be registered or carry ID or certification and its illegal to ask.

I can't count the times people would say to me,
"So what's she for? What disability do you have? You don't look disabled? Are you going to be sad when she goes to live with her disabled handler? Are you being paid to train her?"
It's offensive. You do not ask someone in a wheel chair why they're in it and question whether they really need it. It's NONE of your business. No one asks your medical history on a regular basis.

And yes, service animals are allowed in every public place. Including where food is and including where people may have allergies. This may be inconvenient, but so is having a life altering disability.

To those who think it's cruel and unfair to work a dog, if the dog does not enjoy its work and Is reluctant, it's not a suitable candidate and will not be trained. If they work for 5 years and suddenly lose interest they will be retired. It's in the best interests of the dog and handler. They enjoy it or they don't do it.
If you see a dog in public and it's lying on the floor with its head down, or it looks "sad" they are fine. They have been trained to be calm and still. They can't get excited because then they're distracted.
Any health problems and the dog gets retired (this is what happened to mine)
The dogs get regular vet check ups and get retired in old age.
They don't all work all the time! Once that vest or harness is off they can enjoy being a regular dog, they get walked for fun and toys and treats!
The bond between a dog and handler is incredible, imagine your pet, but they save your life or give you freedom or independence! theyre often with you always.

I hope you learned something and if you have any questions or a service dog yourself I'd love to read your comments!

FenellaMaxwellsPony Fri 21-Apr-17 13:10:13

I 100% support the work of service dogs. But people who interfere with them and are dumb enough to make kiddy noises at a working dog in likelihood won't be paying attention to this very lengthy post, and it's quite patronising to the rest of us....

fourpawswhite Fri 21-Apr-17 13:11:39

Wonderful post OP.

My friend takes guide dog puppies for the first few months until they go on to the intense training. It drives her up the wall when people want to touch, cuddle and pick upshockthe puppies when they are wearing the in training lead and tabard. They obviously do this for very short periods a day due to their age but every single day someone try's it.

I would love to do something similar but have issues with anything that comes into my house staying forever. I would be hopeless.

Weatherforecaster Fri 21-Apr-17 13:13:54

I once put my heavy (ish) backpack on top of a service dog. I was on a train and it was only when I got up over an hour later that I saw a very quiet, very well behaved black labrador underneath my bag. He'd blended in so well with the carpet and hadn't even moved at all. I felt awful!

jugotmail Fri 21-Apr-17 13:14:51

Completely agree. I always tell my son to ask before approaching dogs but have always told him that a dog in harness is working and should be left alone.

badtime Fri 21-Apr-17 13:15:02

I've got a question.

'PSA' and 'service dog' (rather than 'assistance dog') make this seem like it may not be UK specific. Which laws prohibit one from asking if an assistance service dog is accredited?

MichaelSheensNextDW Fri 21-Apr-17 13:16:16

Fantastic post OP. I am sure if you approached national newspapers they would be very interested to receive an article about this, or interview you directly. Assistance dogs are becoming more and more a part of life and your information and personal experience are valuable and very interesting.

badtime Fri 21-Apr-17 13:16:43

disabilitynow.org.uk/2016/01/04/fakes-pose-risk-to-assistance-dogs/

ThinEndOfASlipperySlope Fri 21-Apr-17 13:25:35

Great sentiment, but much of it doesn't apply to the UK. Nobody has the right to ask what my Assistance Dog does for me, and she has to wear her jacket when she's working. We also carry her passport thingie, which shows she's a registered assistance dog.

I love it when people ask if they can fuss my dog, and I always thank them for asking (even if I have to say 'no, sorry'). It gives me a chance to talk to them and possibly make new friends.

itsmine Fri 21-Apr-17 13:32:47

I have Deaf friends and one of them has a hearing dog, she often gets people enquiring how the dog helps and she's happy to explain but as you say asks not to have the dog distracted.

I'm surprised there are assistance dogs for fibromyalgia and EDS, I know they are debilitating and painful conditions but how does the dog help on a working basis? just interested.

MidnightAura Fri 21-Apr-17 13:41:08

Great post. I puppy walk for guide dogs and I find it hard when we are training and we are getting constant attention from people who just run up and start touching him without asking.

Growing up I was always taught to never distract a working dog.

Meekonsandwich Fri 21-Apr-17 14:06:39

I am from the uk! smile

If the dog is registered with the ADUK they will often have a passport you can carry. It does say on their page not ALL dogs will have this. However further down it says they will all have this so it's unclear.
Most dogs will be accredited with the ADUK but not all, not privately trained dogs.

I cannot find any legislation in the UK about what business owners are allowed to ask so I use the American Disability Act as a guidline. It simply states they are not allowed to discriminate against, turn away or charge a disabled person more.

Assistance dog is an umbrella term, it covers the types, guide dogs, hearing dogs and service dogs. I apologize for any confusion.

as for what a dog will do for a person with fibromyalgia or EDS it will depend on the person but I know dogs that can retrieve objects, pick them up from the floor, open doors, help put washing In or out of a washing machine, help take socks/gloves off, help retrieve lost objects, get medication, help pull the person if they feel weak, help pull a wheelchair, the list goes on!

I have so much respect and love for people who raise the puppies and then they leave to be trained, it must be heart breaking but you'd be so proud at the same time!

Witchend Fri 21-Apr-17 14:42:39

I love it when people ask if they can fuss my dog, and I always thank them for asking (even if I have to say 'no, sorry'). It gives me a chance to talk to them and possibly make new friends.

People I've known with assistant dogs would agree with that statement. Yes, don't go up to the dog and pet him or distract him, but they really like people coming and asking about the dog(s). It gives them opportunities to chat about assistant dogs and raise awareness, as well as nice conversations with people.

MidnightAura Fri 21-Apr-17 14:59:27

I have so much respect and love for people who raise the puppies and then they leave to be trained, it must be heart breaking but you'd be so proud at the same time!

I do find it sad, but it is a proud moment, from the get go We don't consider it our dog. We have our own dog. It's lovely though knowing the dog is going off to make a difference in someone's life.

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