Assistance Dogs & Service Animals For The Disabled
Service animals perform various tasks and functions for the disabled and help them lead an easier life. They are trained for specific tasks which they become experts at eventually and are able to provide superior quality care and serve as excellent companion animals for their owners. The most commonly seen service animals are guide dogs for the blind. These assistance dogs are trained to care for the blind and guide them in their everyday lives. Other kinds of service animals also exist for various other forms of disabilities.Service animals are the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf and emotional support of the traumatized. It is a great benefit to society to train and enjoy the services that can be provided by a companion animal for the disabled.
What Are Companion Animals?
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (1), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that “Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.” These companion animals serve almost as a life support system for the disabled and help them through their daily activities. They are usually professionally trained and are very skilled at taking care of their owners. These companion animals perform vital tasks and without their presence a disabled individual might find it extremely difficult to get through life. The most commonly found service animals are blind dogs or assistance dogs for the deaf. However, many a time other animals like cats and monkeys are also trained to become companion animals. Assistance dogs may also be used for invisible disabilities. A disability need not be obvious to people around them in order to obtain the benefits of having a companion animal.
Guide Dogs For The Blind
Guide dogs for the blind are the most commonly seen service animals. They are trained to guide their owners around the house and elsewhere. The owner usually gets extremely attached to his blind dog as the dog makes it so much easier for him to get around. These assistance dogs are trained to:
- Obey several basic commands from the owner
- Alert appropriate individuals in case of emergencies
- Behave themselves in public and not allow themselves to be petted
- Be trained to stop at appropriate places such as crossings, ditches, obstructions and so on.
- Stay close to the owner at all times
- Not cause chaos within stores and restaurants and other public places
- Not be aggressive towards other people or other animals
Guide dogs for the blind can be trained to become great companion animals. They are very willing to learn and adjust to the needs of the owner. Since they are known as ‘Man’s best friend’, assistance dogs strive to give their entire attention for the well-being of their owner. They provide comfort and protection to the disabled and are a great benefit to the society as a perfect service animal.
When we see a blind dog leading an individual into a store, we cannot help but appreciate these companion animals, who bring so much comfort and protection to the disabled. No matter what kind of disability they are trained for, service animals provide for those in need of help and support with their daily lives. Assistance dogs and other forms of service animals help an individual get around and function normally and make them feel safe in case of any kind of emergency. Such creatures are not only our companion animals; they are indeed a blessing for the disabled.
- ADA Brief: Service Animals – Americans with Disabilities Act
- Users of Service Animals – Disability Preparedness