September is dedicated to National Service Dog Month to help raise awareness and show appreciation for the extraordinary work service canines do every day for their handlers. It is important to honor these hard-working pups as they dedicate their lives to helping their human companions.
According to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service canine is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. ADA allows service dogs to accompany people in public areas where dogs are typically not allowed, if the dog is under control by its owner.
The idea of National Service Dog Month was thought up by actor and animal advocate Dick Van Patten, who was in amazement by the exceptional help service dogs had given to their handlers with certain ailments and disabilities. To further the cause, he launched a fundraising initiative to benefit these dedicated canines who worked hard every day in service dog training schools. He eventually became an honorary board member of the Guide Dogs of the Desert. In 2008, Dick’s devotion to canine services led to fundraising efforts during National Service Dog Month across the U.S.
Service Canines Help an Array of People Suffering from Disabilities
While most have heard of seeing eye dogs or guide dogs, there are many other types of service dogs that are available to assist people with different disabilities. Service dogs have hundreds of hours of specialized training on specific, skilled tasks. They can be trained a number of skills, for example, to retrieve objects, assist with balance, give seizure or diabetic alerts, assist people suffering from psychiatric disabilities and autism. Service dogs are also available to serve our nation’s war veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). They can provide companionship and confidence to their owners while keeping them safe and protected allowing them to live fuller lives.
Service dogs are also found working in schools, nursing facilities, courthouses, physical therapy practices, hospitals, and many other settings.
Things to Consider When You Find Yourself Around a Service Dog
Always Be Sure to Approach the Handler, Not the Dog
Depending on the disability of the handler, the handler’s life could depend on the dog staying focused on their job. It is important to give the dog plenty of space.
Never Touch a Service Dog Without Asking Permission First
Just like all dogs, service dogs love to be petted too. However, distracting the service dog may prevent them from caring for their handler properly. While it may not look like it, the dog may be in the middle of assisting their owner and you wouldn’t want to interrupt that.
If you have small children who don’t know any better, be sure that they don’t get to close either.
Keep Your Dog Away from Service Dogs
Service dogs are always on the job and should not be distracted by other dogs. If you want your pet to approach them, check with the owner first.
If you see a service dog coming towards you and your dog, try to avoid the dog. By crossing the road or keeping your dog on a short leash, you lessen the chance of distraction.
Never Offer Food to a Service Dog
Not only is this a distraction but many service dogs are on a strict diet and feeding schedule. Some may even have allergies. If a service dog becomes sick from irregular food or feeding, then they cannot perform their job properly.
An Unattended Service Dog is a Sign Its Owner Needs Help
This is one of the most important rules to remember about service dogs. It is very unusual to see a service dog alone without its owner. If a service dog does approach you without their handler, nudges you or barks at you, it’s a clue that the dog is seeking help.
If this happens, follow the dog and it should lead you to its owner. Identify the situation and if necessary, call 911 immediately.
GenSol Recognizes Service Dog Providers
Canine Companions, Paws for People, Canine Assistants, and K9’s for Warriors are just a few reputable service dog providers. We at GenSol proudly recognize these providers as service dogs have become a major advantage for someone suffering from disabilities.
Whether it be a service dog or therapy dog, these pups spend countless hours of training and end up being their handler’s life support. They have rightfully earned the month of September to celebrate them!
There many different service dog provider companies out there. It is important to do thorough research before deciding which company may best fit your needs for a service dog.
You can visit the resource links provided below for more information on service dog providers.