Let’s Celebrate Service Dogs This Month!

service dogsNational Service Dog Month is a great way to recognize the important role of dogs in the lives of the people they serve, assist, and protect. The entire month of September is dedicated to raising cultural awareness of all the things service dogs do for our friends, family members, and neighbors. Ready to reflect on and celebrate their importance? We are, too!

Improve Quality of Life

Originally launched as a fundraiser to benefit training programs around the country, National Service Dog Month is now a nationwide celebration of the exemplary work completed by service dogs in our communities.

ADA Definition

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that a service dog is “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” In other words, service dogs help people experience life in ways that would otherwise be impossible or more challenging.

After it passed in 1990, the ADA legalized the entry of service dogs into all establishments, travel without extra expense to the handler, and residence in properties that otherwise restrict pets.

The Differences

Most people are familiar with seeing eye, or guide, dogs and respect the jobs they do for blind people or those with visual impairments. Other types of service dogs include:

  • Hearing or signal dogs – These dogs assist deaf people or those with hearing disabilities. They listen for alarms, alerts, or other signals to help their handlers with various tasks.
  • Seizure alert – These service dogs are incredibly tuned in to the signs and smells of an impending epileptic seizure or other emergency. Not only can they alert their owners to take certain medication that prevents an attack, but they also know what to do when a seizure strikes.
  • Mobility service dogs – Trained dogs can pull wheelchairs, help handlers balance, and even assist with getting dressed or undressed.
  • Psychiatric – People with anxiety, PTSD, autism, depression, and other conditions can lean on these service dogs to relieve stress, assist with medication, and maintain security and safety.

Can Any Dog Become a Service Dog?

All breeds can become service dogs, but they’re most commonly larger breeds, such as:

  • German shepherds
  • Golden retrievers
  • Labradors
  • Border collies

Smaller breeds are known to be extremely helpful as emotional or psychiatric service dogs.

A minimum of 120 hours over the course of 6-24 months is the international standard for service dog training. An understanding and consistent demonstration of basic canine obedience is central to successful training. Commands like sit, stay, wait, down, leave it, heel, and look are absolutely necessary. Service dogs must pass specific public access tests before voluntary registration.

Standing O

If you know someone affected by the selfless nature of a service dog, September is the perfect time to stand up and applaud. You could also donate time or money to a local shelter, training facility, or advocacy organization. Service dogs play vital roles in the health of our communities, and we hope you’re able to celebrate with some this month!

From all of us at Berkeley Veterinary Center, we thank you, service dogs!

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