In today’s blog, Julian Omidi, co-founder of Animal Support, discusses service animals and their role in modern society.
Service dogs are among the most intelligent and well-trained animals in existence. In addition to dogs, you will sometimes see horses, monkeys and even birds that have been trained to help humans who have some sort of a disability.
We are all familiar with guide dogs for the blind, the most common type of service animal in the U.S. and Europe. The fact is, some service animals assist the deaf, the paralyzed or partially paralyzed, and people with other disabilities. Technically speaking, any animal that can be trained to help a disabled person can be considered a service animal.
Courtesy of the experts at Please Don’t Pet Me, an organization that works for “promoting widespread understanding and respect for service dog teams,” here are some facts about service dogs that you might not know:
• Any animal that helps a disabled person perform a task is a service animal, according to the Americans With Disabilities Act. That includes not just guide dogs for the blind, but all other animals that assist the disabled.
• In the U.S. any business that is open to the public must allow any type of service animal to enter its premises. This applies to restaurants and hospitals as well!
• Service dogs can NOT be refused entrance to a business if someone on the premises is allergic to dogs. If the business owner or another customer is allergic to dogs, that is not a legal reason to deny access to the animal and its owner/companion.
• Service animals get plenty of relaxation time, even though it is a common myth that they are always “on duty.” Sometimes, service dogs get even more recreation time than regular pets because of all the structured play and training activity they take part in.
My hat is off to organizations like Please Don’t Pet Me, without the help of organizations like them, we would be less informed about vital topics like this one. Service animals perform an essential job for the people they help. Be sure to let them do their jobs without interference. And when possible, consider donating to an organization that trains or provides service animals to those who need them.
Be good to each other (and to service animals),
Julian Omidi is co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit that works to support the rights and health of animals everywhere.