Known as humankind’s best friend, dogs are also great helpers. Many dogs are trained to be service dogs in order to assist people with physical disabilities to be more independent by reducing reliance on others. Though they are often portrayed as being seeing-eye dogs for the blind, service dogs can also be trained to help in countless other ways.
They can be taught to work with those who need assistance in opening or closing doors, turning light switches on and off, picking up dropped items, or reaching for objects. These dogs can even handle stressful situations by alerting for help when needed such as reporting prior to a seizure or noticing a change in their owner’s insulin levels. They can easily find and recognize significant people, and also help direct their owner to that person.
The wide range of capabilities of medical service dogs allows them to serve people with disabilities of all types. Medical service dogs have been trained to help those with hearing impairments, various types of autism, psychiatric disabilities, balance or physical issues, military veterans, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, epilepsy, diabetes, and so forth. The services these dogs can be trained to do are customizable, and therefore individualized, to fulfill whatever the person with the disability needs.
Service dogs are usually Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers. They are either rescued from animal shelters or bred in specific programs, and after being raised by volunteers, they receive formal training to meet the standards necessary to become official medical service dogs.
Furthermore, to enhance the effectiveness of service dogs in helping those with disabilities lead a more independent life, as stated in the American Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are allowed to go anywhere that the general public can go. This includes everything from privately owned businesses to restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concerts, etc. Service dogs can also travel on any public transit system with their owner such as buses, planes, boats, etc. Additionally, businesses cannot ask what a person’s disability is, nor can they require proof of a dog’s medical certification.
Dogs are already known to be fantastic creatures able to brighten up anyone’s day. These medical service dogs are just further proof of dogs’ amazing capabilities to make a huge difference in our world.
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