Not just lap dogs

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This is in response to Luke Adams' letter to the editor on Feb. 2, whereby he questions the legitimacy of service dogs and their owners. Please realize that not all persons with service animals look disabled; they may have an invisible disability such as a hearing impairment, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, autism or some other physical or mental condition that qualifies them to have a service animal.

Dogs with vests imprinted with "Service Dog" are most likely service dogs, not pets or lap dogs. These working dogs are of various breeds and sizes and are specially trained to assist a person by alerting them to sound, carrying and picking up things or alerting them or others to emergency situations.

Note that I use the word "disabled" because the word "handicap" implies handing out a cap to beg for money, and some people find this to be demeaning.

State and federal laws (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act) give persons the right to be accompanied by certified service animals in public places, businesses, work places and common carriers. People with invisible disabilities frequently face negative judgment and treatment by others who are ignorant and/or insensitive. To interfere with a person's right to have a service animal could be discrimination and a violation of law.

Paula Sutton


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