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Service Animals and The Inconsiderate Dog Owner

Service Dogs vs Companion/Therapy Dogs 🐾

Over the past few months, I’ve heard several cases of people “getting away” with bringing pet dogs into grocery or department stores etc.. under the guise of NEEDING the dog to reduce stress for the person. Many people say their dog(s) are therapy dogs (not the same as a service dog), and are needed for their “condition,” in a public setting. About a week ago, I witnessed a very ill-handled standard poodle that was inside the grocery store with his elderly owner, and I’ll say the dog was NOT a professionally trained dog. The dog was not focused on his task at hand (owner), he was sniffing customers that were shopping and young children. This behavior (dog) was totally unacceptable. The dog was wearing a vest indicating it was a therapy dog, but let me say that anyone can buy these on the internet or have them made.

Several years ago, I read where a woman flying to visit family or going on vacation produced documentation from the internet stating that she had the right to bring her dog on the airplane as a companion due to her mental/emotional state. This resulted in the dog biting one of the passengers and she ultimately was kicked off the plane. Her dog, in fact, was NOT an officially trained therapy dog and obviously could not be trusted around people in a public setting. Considering that an airplane flight is a stressful experience for many of us, and more so for a canine that might have anxiety issues or is improperly trained, this was incredibly irresponsible. I’m not sure if she was slapped with a lawsuit, but it would have been appropriate if she had been.

Service Dogs 🐾

Service dogs are in fact trained by organizations that provide specialized training for a variety of situations in support of the disabled. These dogs are meant for individuals who are impaired in one way or another and legitimately need daily assistance with various tasks we may take for granted. Therapy/Companion Dogs, Do NOT hold the same rights as Service Dogs. Per the definition by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), “Dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Service Animals have the RIGHT to accompany their owners in ALL public places.

Companion/Therapy Dogs 🐾

Companion/Therapy dogs, again, Do NOT have the same rights as Service dogs. Therapy dogs are given the right to visit some hospitals/schools, but don’t have access to the grocery/department stores, restaurants, etc.., and in my opinion, shouldn’t be allowed around food. Therapy Dogs will have proper training too. Companion Dogs are simply pets that provide US an emotional service. There’s nothing wrong with that, BUT the dog only brings value to us, their owners, and takes care of OUR individual emotion needs.

Please use caution 🐾

I have taken Olivia and our Chihuahua with us many times to various places. If you want to take your dog with you to a store, inform yourself of the store’s policy, and whether or not they welcome dogs with their owners. Frankly, most pet owners can’t handle their dogs in a private setting(s), much less in public. Don't make it more difficult for those that truly need animal assistance.

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