On a bright spring day, it is hard not to see all of the people outside with their pets. It is an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, to get some exercise, and to stretch the legs. One cannot help but smile when they see the affection between a pet and their owner. For some people though, the animal is about more than just companionship; it is about emotional and physical support. These animals, referred to as service animals, have been around in many different capacities over the years.
In 1990, the Americans with Disability Act made it illegal for businesses and government agencies to restrict access to these service animals. While there are many different types of animals, the service animal community generally identifies the animals within three broad categories of the services they provide:
- Animals which guide blind or sight impaired individuals
- Animals which signal hearing impaired individuals
- Animals which provide a service for disabilities that are not sight or hearing related
As can be imagined, this opens up the opportunities for service animals for a wide variety of reasons. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have resulted in a growing number of service animals for those with injuries, both physical and psychological. These service animals, often in the form of dogs, can help to make the life of the veteran so much fuller and also in many ways, can help the veteran to reconnect on an emotional level.
The value of these animals cannot be understated and their benefit is far reaching. While the Veteran Affairs does not yet recognize the scientific benefits of service animals for PTSD, the fact remains that many veterans attest to the benefits they have personally observed as a result of their service animal.
Under the American with Disability Act, a service animal owner does not need to provide or carry any documentation to identify the animal as being a service animal. Further, once identified, it is against federal law to discriminate. While this may open up the potential to fraud, the reality remains that the vast majority of service animals are in fact legitimate. The news is filled with outrages where airlines, hotels, restaurants, or businesses not only discriminated against service animals, but also against the same service members they claimed to support. As a business owner or employee, one should always look at the big picture before deciding to kick out an individual with a service animal.
While many service animals are also incredibly friendly and loving animals, it does not mean that strangers should rush up to them with their children to pet them. People should keep their distance, as they would any other animal, and ask the veteran before attempting to pet or get close to the animal. Dogs, much like people, have their own personalities and no two are the same, so keep this in mind when around these animals.
At the end of the day, the service animal is a proven method to aid the lives of disabled individuals for a variety of reasons. They can help to interact with the world, guide or signal individuals, or even get help or call 911 in the event of an emergency. Their capabilities are truly amazing and they should be treated as such.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.