The Service Animal Craze
By Bob Branco
As most of us know, guide dogs are allowed anywhere that their owners are, because the dog is part of its master’s travel. These particular service animals are welcome in restaurants, in stores, and on all forms of transportation. Guide dog users are also allowed to have their animals at home with them, even if the landlord forbids other dogs. It is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that his or her dog is out of everyone’s way and doesn’t cause a disturbance.
While the guide dog and its duties and rights are defined to everyone’s satisfaction, there seems to be a trend in society which allows other animals to become service animals. While there are more medical diagnoses today which support the use of service animals by people who didn’t qualify for them in the past, there are those who take advantage. Recently, airlines have complained that pigs, kangaroos, and other animals have traveled on their planes and have been passed off as service animals. Perhaps the passenger has anxiety issues or is depressed, or maybe she just wants her pet with her. No one knows unless there is a proven medical reason for these additional animals.
Should we investigate this sudden increase in service animal usage, or should we as a society recognize that there are additional medical diagnoses that we have to deal with, making additional service animals a reality to accept?
I’ve heard horror stories about what some animals do, whether they are real service animals or not. Some have been known to relieve themselves in restaurants and on airplanes. Could it be that the owners didn’t apply proper training, or are these people simply passing themselves off as service animal users without knowing all there is to know? We should still continue to educate on this subject, because I feel there isn’t enough awareness.
(Originally published in Word Matters)