Service dogs work hard each and every day to protect their human counterparts.
Not only are they constant companions, they are also hardworking animals that can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can help lessen the symptoms of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, for example.
To better integrate them into society, it’s beneficial for individuals and businesses alike to learn facts about these animals.
Since they’re often cute and cuddly, it’s not unusual for people to forget that service dogs are not pets but rather working animals that have been individually trained to help people with disabilities. Guide, hearing and service dogs typically accompany a person anywhere the general public is allowed, including restaurants, businesses and on airplanes, providing support as their owners go about their daily lives.
However, a survey by American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, suggests that employees are not educated about the unique needs of customers with service dogs. Nearly 69 percent of retail employees said they never received training from their employer on the questions they are legally allowed to ask customers to ascertain an animal is a service dog.
Further adding to confusion is a lack of understanding of the difference between service dogs and other assistance animals. Emotional support dogs and therapy dogs assist people in their daily lives, but they do not have the same responsibilities as service animals. For instance, therapy dogs provide affection and comfort to their owners, but they do not have special rights of access in all buildings or public areas. Since service animals often provide mobility assistance or communicate medical alerts, they should always be allowed to accompany their owners.
At times, these innocent misconceptions can lead to discrimination against those who rely on the support of a service dog. To combat this problem, American Humane and Mars Petcare, the world’s leading pet nutrition and health care business, created training videos to help businesses better accommodate patrons who have service dogs. Aligning with the Better Cities For Pets initiative, the videos and other resources help provide an understanding of the roles service dogs play to help create a world where pets and working animals are welcome across all communities.
“Dogs have incredible abilities, including saving lives and making the world a better place,” said Angel May, corporate citizenship lead at Mars Petcare. “Service dogs are animals that should be celebrated for the good they bring to society, and we hope that increased awareness of their working nature leads to a deeper understanding of their important role.”
For additional information on service dogs, visit www.bettercitiesforpets.com/servicedogs.