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Spotlight on Assistance Dogs

August 1, 2021

Today, August 1st, is the first day of International Assistance Dog Week. Plus, the 4th is International Assistance Dog Day. Dogs are truly amazing animals. Their intelligence, devotion, and hard work are special gifts, that give them the ability to help people with medical challenges or disabilities. In this article, a veterinarian highlights information on assistance dogs.


 A Helping Paw

Assistance Dog Week was started to honor all of the loving and loyal pooches that help their human friends live their best lives. But, there’s more to it than just giving pups a well-deserved pat on the head. Raising awareness is also key to this special week. Recognition of the people who train and place assistance dogs is also important.


What Is An Assistance Dog?

Assistance dogs often get confused with therapy dogs. However, these two groups do have several things in common. For one, these dogs all help their human owners live fulfilling lives. They’re also cutie pies! Knowing the similarities, it’s important to know their differences. Assistance dogs, also called service dogs, are trained to conduct certain functions or tasks. They are protected by law, and can go anywhere their owners go. There are only a couple of exceptions, such as hospitals. Therapy dogs are trained to help people deal with grief, trauma, sadness, and anxiety. 


Requirements

Dogs must meet certain requirements before being named as an assistance dog. According to law, the owner must be disabled. To help their owners overcome or deal with the disability, assistance dogs must be trained in specific tasks. Fido must also prove himself to be well-behaved in public, and know how to act properly at all times. Plus, assistance dogs must be healthy and meet proper hygiene requirements. 


Tasks

A Seeing Eye Dog is one example of an assistance dog. Seeing Eye Dogs help guide blind people around. Assistance dogs are also trained to perform many other specific tasks. They may detect oncoming seizures or dips in blood sugar for diabetics, and then act accordingly. 


Meeting Fido

In most places, it’s a felony to harm or interfere with an assistance dog. Although it may not be illegal to pet them, it’s often quite intrusive. These dogs are working and on duty. So, don’t touch or interact with an assistance dog without the owner’s permission. 


If you would like more information on assistance dogs, contact your local pet clinic!

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