Informative Informative - Service Dogs in Public View

Review by Arlene on 2008-03-02
ARIZONA -- While checking my e-mail tonight I got a response from an M3C regular...not posting any names, but it was suggested/requested that I do an informative about Service Dogs, since we have two of them.

People seem appalled that we take them out in public, they go shopping with us, they go to restaurants, and everyplace else we go, they can go. Our dogs are well groomed, well behaved, and they do what they are trained to do.

How many times have any of you eaten out and the parents of 2 - 3 kids under the age of 5 just let them run loose in the dining room? They scream, holler and are presenting a danger to themselves, the wait staff and other diners. A waiter/waitress could trip over a child, spill their tray of food on the child, people seated nearby, etc.

Our Service Dogs lay quietly while we order and eat. My male will touch my arm with his nose or paw and look towards whoever is serving our food, soon as I acknowledge, he puts his head down again. My husband's will lay her chin on his leg and stays there when we eat, if she wants him aware of something, she'll pick her head up and maybe lick his arm, or get his attention in a quiet manner. My dog is also great in the van, he rides on the dash and alerts me to sirens, as soon as I get his alert, I pull over and wait....usually within 30 seconds an emergency vehicle is passing us, this dog is amazing and he's never been wrong.

Service dogs are permitted anyplace we are, as long as they are well behaved, under control, and doing their job. Occasionally you'll get a Service Dog that causes a fuss, barks in a theater, or makes a mess, say in a motel room. This is cause to have THAT Service Dog removed from the premises. Just because one Service Dog acts out, doesn't mean they all will. Because you can't judge all Service Dogs by the actions of one. Deposits can not be charged for a Service Animal, even in housing.

Motels can't charge a pet deposit on a Service Dog, but you are still resposible for any damage your Service Dog might do. YOU and you alone are resposible for policing your Service Dog's nature calls, its common sense to clean up after any dog.

Restaurants can't ask you to take your Service Dog outside unless its unruly or causing a dangerous situation. We checked with the health department and were told that because we have very small dogs, they can sit in the booth with us, after we leave, all the busboy, or whoever clears the table has to do is a fast wipe of the seat with a solution of bleach water on a wet rag...that takes care of any possible loose dog hairs, and any allergy reactions the next customer has.

We live in Arizona, even if you leave the windows down in a vehicle, temps inside a vehicle reach 140+ and are even higher if the windows are up. This can kill a dog in a very short time. Even in the winter months, temps can get pretty high in a closed vehicle. Our sun here is brutal. Late at night I have left the dogs for a few minutes in the van, but not till the sun is down and I can be where the van is within our sight at all times. Small dogs are at a premium here and are stolen out of vehicles all the time.

When you see a person with a Service Dog, please. do not feed it anything, don't pet it without talking to the handler first. If you pet a seeing eye dog, you take his/her attention off their job of keeping their person safe. The same with a hearing assist dog, which is what ours are. Our dogs have never had "people food" and never will, they don't put their faces near a table top or beg for food at the table.

If you have questions about Service Dog accessibilty...be well informed, call U.S. Dept. of Justice ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 and ASK, don't just assume that all dogs are banned. A Service Dog might be the only reason a person can get out in public because of a disability that you can't readily see. You can't SEE that I am hard of hearing, just that I have a small dog. Our dogs do have an orange vest, with hearing patches that identify them as hearing assist dogs, they have their own special ID card complete with their picture and other information.

And one last note: Service Dogs are working dogs, they are NOT PETS!

We had a little bit of a problem at first with the greeters at our local Wal*Mart, but once we explained and the manager came over and saw the ID cards, we haven't really had a problem since. We were advised once that the only dogs they had to allow were Guide Dogs for the Blind, WRONG! A service animal, (some people have Capuchin monkeys) by federal law has to be allowed access anywhere their handler goes. If a business place attempts to prevent a Service Animal entering, they are in violation of the law, and the person may sue them in Federal Court for violation of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The idea behind the law is to provide the same level of access to the disabled that a fully abled person has, and the animal provides this difference.
Comments:22 Replies - Latest reply on 2008-03-03
Posted by Arlene on 2008-03-02:
Alley, you have to remember, not all service dogs are professionally trained. Ours were home-schooled but they are doing great and its allowable. And yes, I agree with you about letting just any dog into an establishment. We have 16 months of intensive training into our two and they are perfect out in public, we've never had a problem and they do their job of alerting us. There are a few other things I want to train them for, such as alerting us when Starlord's sugar is too high or too low, I think we've narrowed that down to the male we have, he's not timid about getting in your face and smelling around your mouth and nose....and that is what that consists of. They both alert to his breathing problems too so hearing is just a minor part of what they are trained for. They tell us when the timer goes off for the microwave, oven, and bread machine, the dryer buzzer and someone at the door. As I said in my post, Bearbear alerts me to sirens, as well as to people walking up behind me or on my deaf side. They have been very well received in 98% of the places we have taken them.
Posted by miketech on 2008-03-02:
Interesting information. I am very pro-service animals anyway. It was very interesting thanks.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-03-02:
The only problem I see with home-schooling the dogs is that they miss out on the prom. Other than that, home-schooling is great.
Posted by Nohandle on 2008-03-03:
Excellent informative Crystal and quite educational. I feel many don't realize how many types of Service Dogs there are. I saw a program a while back on one that alerted his owner who had a neurological disorder when a seizure was near. It amazed me how an animal could sense this and the amount of training involved.

I have never had a problem with a Service Dog in any public place. We never know when we might find ourselves in need of one. Thanks again.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-03-03:

Just one guestion. Is your dog secured somehow inside your vehicle while traveling? The only reason I am asking is that with such a valuble dog, even a minor accident could cause devastating injuries to a small dog sitting on dashboard.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2008-03-03:
One little more tidbit from the ADA Website regarding service dogs.
"Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, YOU MAY NOT insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability."
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-03-03:
Excellent, informative post. Thank you.
Posted by yoke on 2008-03-03:
Thank you for the information. It was very helpful.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-03-03:
Crystal, quite educational most of this I had no idea about and it is good to know this thank you!
Posted by Principissa on 2008-03-03:
Excellent information Crystal. I too am pro-service animal. And I have a lot of respect for the the service animals. Through all of the distractions of daily life they still keep to their job, which is to help their handler. If it wasn't for service animals a lot of disabled people would not have the freedom to enjoy a semi-normal life.
Posted by JustLady on 2008-03-03:
Excellent information!
Posted by GothicSmurf on 2008-03-03:
Awesome review. I am not an animal person, but do realize that service animals can be a God-send and at a young age, I started teaching my son the difference in pets and service animals. I've never encountered and unruly service animal.

However, as a personal note, I still don't agree with them sitting on seats at restaurants... with that being said, I wouldn't make a fuss about it either if the animal was well behaved.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-03-03:
Crystal, excellent info and post, thank you. We have small dogs and know how much work you have put into your dogs training. Ours do no service work so we very seldom take them anyplace dogs are not welcomed. About the only place we take them indoors are places like Petco etc.
Posted by MSCANTBEWRONG on 2008-03-03:
Thank you for the information! Excellent. VH
Posted by Arlene on 2008-03-03:
GS, normally I wouldn't have them on the booth seat, but its the only way they can alert us, as they are under 6 pounds each. I normally carry a couple baby blankets with me for them to sit on, none of the restaurants, save one, has objected...they just wipe the seat off and it's ready for the next customer.

RobF....We don't travel with windows down and it's like he's glued to the dash, if he senses anything isn't right, he jumps down to my husband. I can't crate them in the van because they are prone to carsickness riding in the rear of the van...but they are pretty safe in the vehicle.
There is a custom mat on the dash and he never moves unless he's alerting.
Posted by GothicSmurf on 2008-03-03:

That puts things in a whole new light. I never thought about it that way. Thank you for taking the time to not get upset with me and to put it in a way that makes perfect sense. I promise to never harass you about your guide dogs again. (Not that I did to start.)
Posted by Starlord on 2008-03-03:
Smurf, we do not go to one restaurant that said the dogs had to be on the floor under the table. We can't get them to understand that A. down there, they cannot really see and hear what they need to in order to alert us, and B, you don't know what people have dropped on the floor, Our dogs do not get people food, so they don't beg or try to get to our plates as we eat. We do not want them eating stuff off the floor, as it may make them sick or let them develop a taste for peeople food. they have to be pretty much on the same leve as we are to detect things to alert us to. We had one waitress ask if they alerted us by barking. Crystal asked her what good a barking dog would do to alert a deaf person. Helloooo! they let us know what is going on around us pretty effectively and others hardly know they are there.
Posted by CrazyRedHead on 2008-03-03:
I have no problem with service dogs. I had a blind Aunt that had a service dog. It was a German Shepard and was vital to her day to day living. I was not aware that small dogs, as they are easily excitable, were able to be service animals. I just have one question though, can your little dog, that sits on the dash board, sense a car coming out of nowhere. I pray that we never find out, but I would be concerned for his safety and wonder if there is any way you can buckle him up and still do his job. A car accident only takes a second to happen and even if the windows are up, can cause life threatening injuries to an animal that is thrown around in a vehicle. Even though he isn't a pet, I know that you are still attached to him. I have seen some bad car crashes that nothing inside stays glued down, except for the people bucked up in there seatbelts.
Posted by Arlene on 2008-03-03:
CRH....most of our driving is rural, back roads. We don't normally travel main roads or freeways when the dogs are with us. It's a fairly relaxed life-style here, and I even tend to stop at some intersections that the stop is on the cross street, just because I know how people drive in the area. We tend to leave them home if we have to go into the city, I don't have a problem with my driving, it's the other guy I worry about.
As far as small dogs being excitable, they are when company comes and they don't have their harness on, soon as the harness goes on, they settle down and go to work. The way a dog is raised from the time they are puppies speaks volumes for how they act as an adult. They have been in crowds of 10,000 people and never batted an eye, they have been at 12 hour long events and behaved beautifully, there is no place I am afraid to take these dogs....unless its to the big city...I do fear for their safety there and on the rare occasion they go with us, they ARE crated in the back. And, yes, we are very attached to them since they have been in our care since Munchie was 7 weeks old and Bearbear was 10 weeks old....they just turned 18 months old last Saturday.

Posted by CrazyRedHead on 2008-03-03:
Well give them a big belated Happy Birthday from me. I don't mind pooch drool.
Posted by Arlene on 2008-03-03:
Ty, CRH....I'm sure they enjoyed the extra treat I gave them from you! Their birthday is Sept 1st, and its so hard to believe they are almost 2 years old! They are wonderful dogs and I owe a lot to them.
Posted by Starlord on 2008-03-03:
We have had several people ask how such a small dog as a Chihuahua can be a service dog. I always ask them how big does one have to be to have good ears? The Chihuahua as a breed is known for the sensitivity of their ears. Everyone is amazed at how mellow and laid back Bearbear and Munchie are. And when their harnesses are on, they appaarently know that is their uniform, and they are all business. When we get home and the harnesses come off, it's Katie, bar the door. We are so proud of their representing service dogs.

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