Lillian Carrier remembers the day vividly. She was out shopping in Target with her service dog, Luke, when she noticed a flickering lightbulb and heard a terrible screeching. She tried to ignore it, but it got too much for carriers with autism. It threw her into a sensory overload that made her freeze and panic. But Luke, who she had only had a few months, saw Carrier’s fear and did what he was taught: he grabbed her arm and pulled her to a safe place in the store. Then he lay down on her and applied deep pressure for about 40 minutes before she could calm down and call someone to pick her up.
“If he wasn’t there, I don’t know what I would have done because I don’t want anyone to touch me. I don’t know if I would have yelled or hit someone, ”Carrier said.
This was just one of the many times Luke, a golden retriever, came to the aid of Carrier since he became her service dog three years ago.
the Americans with Disabilities Act defines service dogs as “dogs that are individually trained to perform work or tasks for people with disabilities”. And loud American Kennel Club, approximately 80 million Americans use service dogs for various needs.
Service dogs are used to help with various disabilities and include allergy detection dogs, diabetic warning dogs, hearing dogs, mobility assistance dogs, psychiatric service dogs, and even seizure warning dogs.
While Carrier’s service dog is intended for autism, the blind Danielle Sykora uses her dog Jackie as a guide dog.
“When we go, she stops at height differences such as curbs or stairs and leads me around obstacles so I don’t run on them,” said Sykora. “And she can find certain things like a chair or an elevator or something.”
Dogs assisting humans are not a new phenomenon, the earliest evidence dates back to the year Centuries before. The first kind of Service dogs Guide dogs have been used in modern times. In 1916, the world’s first guide dog school was opened in Germany. In the 1970s, the use of service dogs began to expand to what we see today.
Brenda Kennedy, the vice president of canine health and research for Canine Companions, a service dog provider with locations across the country, said Canine Companions is the world’s oldest dog care organization providing dogs for a variety of disabilities. Kennedy has been with the company for seven years and heads the company’s research and breeding division. In numerous studies, Kennedy and her team work to find quantitative data that shows how service dogs are useful to humans.
“We’re trying to use more metrics and science-based processes to assess the impact of service dogs rather than just using human self-reports,” Kennedy said. “We’re trying to get a lot more quantitative and look at things [such as] Biomarkers like what is someone’s cortisol level? Do we see how stress hormones change? Are we seeing a change in the quality of sleep? “
Canine Companions has been involved in several major studies, including how Domesticate dogs is what made them communicate with people and whether their ability to communicate with people is genetic. (Spoiler alert: it appears to be.)
Another large-scale study that Canine Companions participated in was conducted by the Veterans Affairs Department (VA). The researchers looked at changes in veterans who use service dogs and concluded that service dogs helped significantly reduce signs associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study was so in-depth that President Biden did the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. The law allows the VA to provide service dogs and care precautions to help veterans with PTSD.
“We’re releasing some of the data necessary to show that it’s not just a warm and fuzzy thing. It’s not just about having dogs face company, “explained Kennedy.
Canine Companions provides service dogs to people with disabilities free of charge, but many other organizations charge a fee. And more than that People with disabilities Looking for service dogs, more Scams show up too. Service dog waiting lists are often long, and once a person is housed with a puppy, they often encounter problems in the community regarding service dog laws.
According to ADA, Service dogs have full public access rights, which means they can go to places where other animals are not allowed, including restaurants, libraries, shops, grocery stores, retail stores, and public transportation. Service dogs can also board planes without their handler paying a pet fee.
In addition, if it is not obvious what services an animal is doing, employees in public institutions can only ask two questions: (1) Is the dog a service animal due to a handicap and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained for? According to the ADA, staff must not ask about a person’s disability, request medical records, request special ID or training documentation, or require the dog to demonstrate their ability to perform the work or task.
However, people in the community still do not know these laws, which is why people like Sykora and Carrier are often discriminated against.
Lillian Carrier and Luke, 2021
“It’s strange that I always stand up for disability and service dog laws because nobody knows about them,” Carrier said. “When I go shopping, when I go to restaurants, when there’s a new place, I always have to explain something to someone,” said Carrier.
“I think people should all be trained on what service dog law is when working with people.”
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