A Cause for 2018
It’s gotten quite commonplace to see dogs accompanying their handlers in places that used to be verboten. I, for one, am happy about that reversal. But it has also brought about confusion, and misuse.
The book is not a training manual, as in A, B, C, 1,2,3. Rather it discusses the dog’s innate qualities and gifts, enhanced by training, and how they are utilized in therapy. The stories show how important the interaction is between humans and animals, especially marginalized humans.
People pretending they have certified animals is a dangerous practice. There is a website (perhaps, more than one) that instructs one that for $45.00, any dog can be certified a therapy dog. It explains the law concerning therapy dogs and service dogs. It says, you must keep your registration with you all the time. If anyone questions, which by law they cannot do, just show them the card. No one is allowed to ask you anything about the dog, they can’t ask why you need the dog, or what service the dog performs. You don’t have to answer them. They can only ask is it a service or therapy dog. That’s all. You are protected by law. For $45. That’s what it says.
A young man at the nursing facility where my mother is, has one of these dogs. I reported him. I also wrote to the D.A. in FLA asking that the licenser be put out of business. This is a dangerous practice and must be stopped.
While petting Buddy, this man told me all about his black lab that weighs 125 pounds who is his "therapy service dog." The fellow is in a wheelchair and was temporarily there for therapy. I asked him what the dog did for him, and he was off and running with his $45 educational spiel. His girl friend was going to bring the dog in for a visit one day soon. I looked up the website he’d mentioned. His spiel was verbatim!
When we walked in the front door,his dog saw Buddy. He lunged, lifting the girlfriend off the floor and pulling her like a water skier toward us. He was snarling, growling, hackles up. I swiftly yanked Buddy into a resident’s room and pulled the door shut. Everyone at the nurses’ station witnessed this,
and were surprised to see me walk toward the agitated dog. I asked the girl on the floor if she was okay. I told her to take the dog out of the facility. I turned to the guy and said, “Do you realize what would have happened if one of the fragile residents had been between your dog and mine?”
Everyone began to reassess the wisdom of having a therapy dog visit their facility. Maybe dogs shouldn’t be here at all. I said loud and clear, “That dog is NOT a therapy dog or a service dog. He is an unmanageable pet who needs to stay at home.” On the way out the front door the dog lifted his leg on the door casing.
People are doing this for all kinds of reasons: they don’t want to board their pet while they go on vacation; they want to fly with the dog; they like the prestige of having a special animal. None are reasons to endanger other people or other animals. It also jeopardizes the existence of therapy dogs and service dogs as their reputations are tarnished by these phony registrations and the “real” law that protects them.
If you are looking for a cause for 2018, perhaps you can join me in this one. Write to your representatives and congressmen and write to the D.A.s whose states allow these businesses to exist. Buddy and I thank you.