Humans and dogs have a special relationship that dates back centuries. Whether it’s using our four-legged friends as guides, house pets, or hunting companions, people can’t seem to get enough of their beloved canines.
In more recent years, dogs have played a vital role in assisting people with physical and mental disabilities. Service animals are canines with specialized training to help a person with a specific condition.
Continue reading below to learn everything you need to know about service dogs.
What Is a Service Dog?
In short, service dogs help people with disabilities. They allow their owners to live a more independent life by aiding them in performing daily tasks. Often confused with emotional support animals, service dogs are unique as they have specialized training to perform certain functions. They also need to be registered with an official American service dog registration.
Upon registration, they will receive a letter that gives them additional rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This federal law allows service animals to live in residences that typically have a “no pets policy” or enter public areas.
Under the ADA, service dogs are considered working animals, not pets. As a result, property owners and public officials can’t discriminate or take legal action against their owners due to their presence.
How Do Service Dogs Help People With Disabilities?
Here are some of the ways dogs can make lives easier for those with physical and mental disabilities:
Helping with Mobility
People with physical disabilities and chronic illnesses might have trouble moving around. Whether it’s opening doors, retrieving items, or turning lights on/off, there are countless ways a dog can help. Some service animals can pay cashiers at the grocery store.
Being Alert and Protective
Some dogs go through specialized training to aid their owners in a time of crisis. They do so by constantly being alert and looking out for warning signs that their owner is having a medical emergency. In that case, they will try and get their owner to a safe place, like grass or a soft surface.
Psychiatric service dogs can detect if their owner is having a mental breakdown or psychiatric episode. For example, they may guide their owner to a quieter place and away from crowds if they detect discomfort.
No doubt, living with a mental or physical disability is challenging. These animals not only directly help with the condition, but they can also provide companionship and support for their owners. Dogs have a natural talent for making us feel better in a challenging situation, so living with one is an excellent way to reduce stress.
While service dogs are technically working animals, that doesn’t mean they can’t also be friends.
Dogs are fascinating creatures. They are incredibly loyal, compassionate, and intelligent. These dogs play a critical role for those with disabilities, and society is continuously recognizing their hard work.
If you or someone you know struggles with a disability, consider adopting a service dog.