September is National Service Dog Month! This is one cause that is near and dear to our hearts. Here at Ingersoll Animal Hospital, we’re proud to support the Puppy Jake program, which places professional service dogs with wounded military veterans. There are about 500,000 service dogs in the U.S., according to shareamerica.gov. A Des Moines, IA vet discusses service dogs in this article.
Did you know that service dogs are addressed in the Americans with Disabilities Act? The act, which was passed in 1990, dictates that service dogs must be allowed almost everywhere. There are some exceptions, such as certain hospital wards, where the environment must be kept as sterile as possible, and zoos, where Fido could frighten the resident animals.
Doggy Career Options
There are actually more than a dozen different ‘fields’ that Fido can work in. Service dogs can be hearing dogs, guide dogs, seizure alert dogs, brace/mobility support dogs, or psychiatric service dogs. They can also specialize in autism assistance or diabetic alerts. Some are trained to perform specific tasks, such as reminding their owners to take medication, or laying on top of them to calm them.
It isn’t illegal to pet service dogs. However, it’s best to just leave them alone and let them do their jobs. Never touch or address a service dog without permission from their owner. It’s also worth noting that harassing or harming service dogs is a federal crime.
As you may know, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds are the breeds most often ‘hired’ as service dogs. However, any polite, well-mannered pooch with the right temperament, aptitude, and physical capability can potentially be a service dog. Fido just has to graduate his training course!
Service or Therapy Pup?
There is a difference between service dogs and therapy dogs. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for their owners. Therapy dogs are solely tasked with providing emotional support—generally though cuddles and companionship—and often help many different people.
While many service dogs wear vests, this isn’t required by law. However, if you happen to be approached by a pup in a vest, that is often a signal that the dog’s owner needs immediate assistance. Follow the dog, and/or alert authorities.
Do you want to learn more about our Puppy Jake program? Contact us, your Des Moines, IA pet clinic, today!