Editorials

Is this a service dog? Maybe

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Pippa, a Vizsla, smiles for the camera during a hands-on training class for IDEA Service Dogs at the home of trainers Maureen and Jerry Bennett in Keller, Sunday, September 6, 2015.
Pippa, a Vizsla, smiles for the camera during a hands-on training class for IDEA Service Dogs at the home of trainers Maureen and Jerry Bennett in Keller, Sunday, September 6, 2015. Special to the Star-Telegram

An increasing number of people are masquerading their pooches as service dogs.

It might be for a good reason, like having a “comfort” dog for anxiety, but it has possible repercussions.

Because the dogs don’t go through the rigorous training that a service animal would, they are more likely to misbehave and cause wariness or misunderstanding.

A service animal is a dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, says the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The task performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

The law makes a distinction between service animals and a comfort animals.

If a person who suffers from anxiety attacks had a dog trained to sense an impending attack and performed an action to lessen its impact, that dog would be considered a service dog.

If the dog is only there for comfort, it is not covered by the disability law.

Though comfort animals can contribute positively to therapy, stress and grief, they lack the training needed.

The line between the two keeps getting blurred and it shouldn’t. If Fido isn’t a proper service dog, keep him at home.

Twelve K-9 comfort dogs from 7 states arrived in Orlando last week to provide much needed smiles and healing to those grieving in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Lutheran Church Charities, of Northbrook, Ill., brought the dogs to Orlando

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