The Need For Help And Comfort

When you are shopping at a grocery store, the mall or even in a hardware store, do you notice dogs that appear down the isles with its owner? I admit, I do and I immediately start observing to see if it’s a service animal or not. I don’t mind if the animal is truly a service personnel for their owner, but I think it’s low down when others try and pass it off like they have a service dog when they indeed do not because they just want to take their pet to the store.

In my opinion it is just too easy in todays time to find an imitation vest that service dogs have for their notoriety. Disguising their toy poodle or their obese wiener dog and draging them down the bread isle of a grocery store as the dog sniffs and slobbers under the racks for crumbs that may have fallen as their attention span is not very long while they whip their heads left to right sniffing at peoples shoes as they walk by. This to me is not a service animal.

Even though your service animal doesn’t have to be trained to qualify in certain categories, I think it is a must when they are hauled out into the public, as they have to endure the sounds, smells and duties of the non-stop world. To qualify your dog as a “service dog” for emotional support the requirements for the animal is that it should have good social skills if taken in public places. Federal law does not require the animal to have any specific training and you do not have to be physically disabled.

These kind of service dogs can help people with Anxiety, bipolar/mood disorders, panic attacks, stress, PTSD, personality disorders, fears/phobias and depression by providing comfort and support. But this type of service does require a note from a licensed mental health provider or doctor to house the dog if needed where you live and the note is always required when you fly with the animal.

It doesn’t matter what breed your dog is or the sex. So that allows many people to find the dogs much easier. The most common service dogs that are trained to help people with disabilities are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Yellow Labs, Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever crossbreed and German Shepherds.

Now for the dog to be certified and registered as a service animal there are slightly different qualifications to obtain. For example, your dog is required to be trained to perform tasks for the owners with a disability or a medical condition. The disability does not have to be visible to others and you are not required to obtain a note from a doctor. Some types of tasks for the animal that are required to perform include carrying the medication for people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, seizures, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and other physical and mental disabilities. The animals need to assist with pain management, comfort sufferers of PTSD, and help Autistic people with social functions. They need to be alert of sounds that also include diabetic alerts. This all takes special care and training for these animals, which can take at least 24 months to complete.

Not every service animal is allowed in all businesses and public establishments. But if you have a registered service dog the laws do protect you to enter these places. The service and registered service dogs are allowed to fly but must be kept in the cabin of the aircraft and underneath the seat. Many people hear the word service animal and immediately think of dogs. But that’s not the case with some people needing comfort for emotional support. In 2016, Delta Airlines allowed a passenger to accompany the flight of a live turkey for “emotional support”. An individual from Texas that suffers from anxiety and depression has a bearded dragon to comfort her through the day and night. Hedgehogs and rabbits are known to be positive behavior reinforcement and to help stimulate learning with children. In Northwest Wisconsin, a sheep named Benny is used as a therapy animal. Mice and hamsters can be used for social, emotional and cognitive functioning. Even a kangaroo has been adopted by a lady in Wisconsin that battles with cancer and depression to help her with emotional support.

Cats can also be trained to alert the arrival of a seizure and have been known to dial the phone for help. On a personal note, I had a cat that would jump in my lap and get nose to nose with me as it meowed over and over as her eyes followed mine. This would always occur when my husband at the time would be very abusive with his actions and words as my blood pressure heightened. This cat would never go to my now ex-husband but she would come to me. When she constantly persisted with her meows and movements I would eventually start petting her and just tune the abuse out but always had my eye watching to see if a knife was thrown at me in the meantime. I believe my cat saved me many times because of her persistence and her ability to notice something was going to happen with my health if I continued to give notice to the abuse.

Some of these animals may be a crazy choice to choose for service animals, but I guess it’s a match for the receiver whom suffers with emotional issues and needs help in any way shape or form. So the next time you are out and about, keep an eye out for fakes of service animals and call them out for it. Because this type of service should not be taken advantage of. There are people with serious emotional and physical issues that depend on the true effect of having their companion with them at all time, so don’t ruin it for them just because you want to take your pet to a late night dinner and a movie.


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