Informative Informative - Service Dogs in Public View
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.