So once again today I tried to educate somebody about the offensiveness of their taking a 4 month old puppy everywhere with them, including restaurants, and calling it a Service Dog in Training.
The law is very clear on this issue. Throughout the USA and Canada it is the disabled handler that has public access rights with their trained Service Dog. The dog itself has no rights of public access.
In a few states, and possibly some provinces, Service Dogs in Training may be trained in public non-pet friendly places but this is the exception rather than the norm. Further, this rarely applies to places that sell food. As this entails a whole lot of different legislation that has an exception for fully trained Service Dogs.
Now, please don’t misunderstand, I am in awe of the people that become puppy raisers for Service Dog programs. However, the legitimate programs require proposed raisers to get permission to take the puppy to their school or workplace before a dog is ever even placed with them. The program sets out rules and guidelines as to how the puppy should be socialised and it’s carefully managed.
People seem to think that socialising a puppy is simply about taking it everywhere. This is probably the fastest way to create a washout as a service dog. That’s called immersion. Some puppies will handle it. Many won’t and will simply shut out the world and go to sleep. In this latter case often the ‘handler’ thinks that they’ve achieved great success – Look, my puppy is so well socialised that he just sleeps anywhere! – when really the puppy is so far beyond stressed that it has just shut down. The handler is then surprised when the puppy is fearful and reactive later.
I haven’t even mentioned fear periods and how important it is to handle these well with dogs.
Good puppy socialisation is about building confidence in a dog and having its focus be on you, regardless of what’s going on around it.
This article – More harm than good – explains this far better than I can.
Anyway, my main issue with this person taking a 4 month puppy anywhere is that they are neither a program puppy raiser, or a Service Dog Trainer and worse still they are not disabled. Therefore, they are breaking the law.
Further it is extremely offensive to those of us with disabilities that have to fight every single day for our rights. People just can’t seem to see past how “nice” it is for this person to be helping a “poor disabled person”. However, in reality:
- It’s not helpful.
- It’s placing that puppy at risk of being washed out as a Service Dog by over exposing it at just 4 months of age.
- It places the restaurant owners at risk of heavy fines for allowing a non-trained dog in their premises and breaking the law.
- It is offensive to disabled people to pretend to either be a legitimate trainer or puppy raiser, or disabled when you’re not.
- It increases the chances that legitimate Service Dog teams will have access problems in the future.
- It’s extremely condescending to disabled people to see the ‘good’ of ‘helping’ in this way as more important than the rights of the disabled themselves.
I tried to educate but as is common, the voice of the non-disabled was far louder than those of us trying to speak up for our own rights as disabled people and Service Dog Handlers (I was not alone in trying to educate, other SD handlers tried as well).
For me this was the last straw in the Facebook world so I’m taking a break. Taking a break from the condescension and arrogance and sheer bullying that goes on in groups that are meant to be supportive.
Will I go back to Facebook in the future? Maybe, I’m not sure. But for right now I’m withdrawing from my account. It will be interesting to see what I do to fill my time without it as it is has been a large part of my own socialising for the past few months, while housebound.
I’m looking forward to finding out!