"Good News" Magazine - Page 18

Service Animals and Fakes by Linda Roller It just seems like such a wonderful idea. We love our pets, and want them with us as much as possible. Pets agree, and some pets get agitated and bored while we are away. So, why not have them become "service animals?" It's a fee and certificate, and a vest with a patch...right? In many places, it is not only a poor idea, but it is also against the law. According to Cindy Harkey, owner of Cindy's Smiling Sammy Grooming & Boarding, "A service dog is trained as a very young puppy and that sets the dog's personality. Service dogs come from special kennels that are breeding for service dog traits." To achieve this level, a dog must undergo years of training, and is trained for a particular job, often tailored for an individual who cannot see, cannot pick up items, or cannot do simple tasks, like turn a light on and off. Recently, a restaurant in Northeast Pennsylvania was cited for not asking the correct questions of a person with a service animal. A public place must accept a service animal, and they may ask if the animal is a service animal, and what task the service animal performs for the person. Therapy dogs are not trained for specific tasks, but are trained extensively to interact in public settings. Here, an animal's basic personality can help, but all therapy animals are trained to react in a non-threatening way. They are often seen in nursing homes, schools, medical centers, and wherever people are in need of the comfort that these dogs, cats, rabbits, and miniature horses can give. According to Dee Griswold, trainer of therapy dogs, these animals are not allowed to perform the tasks of therapy dogs. They are designed to bring comfort only. An animal that has only a certificate and a vest that a person bought can be in danger, and pose a danger to others. The training that both service and therapy animals get means that they will not defend themselves aggressively, if they feel threatened. A small dog in a noisy restaurant with many smells and strange people about may become agitated and growl aggressively or even bite. Service and therapy dogs are trained not to urinate or defecate in an indoor setting. Sadly, the less trained or even untrained pets labeled as a "personal therapy dog" may behave badly and be removed from a public place, or the owner may be sued for damage done. And if this animal darts out into a road or parking lot, the animal may be injured or killed. The actions of these "fake certificate" animals tarnishes the fine work done by professional organizations that provide vital assistance to people in wheelchairs, the blind, and those with PSTD. Your pet may be your best friend, but don't force your pet into these roles. Let the professionals do it! - Author Linda Roller is a bookseller, writer, and owner of Liberty Book Shop in beautiful downtown Avis, PA. 2017 SMOKED COUNTRY JAM BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL JUNE 15-17 Held at Quiet Oaks Campground in Cross Fork, PA 16 Pawsitively Pets -- May WWW.SMOKEDCOUNTRYJAM.COM TICKETS AT PURPLEPASS.COM Email: Teresa@SmokedCountryJam.com 570-660-0562 Benefiting the Lupus Foundation of PA 1