Tuesday, October 1, 2019
We rely on them to give us companionship and warmth and play with. whether you’re a cat lover or dog lover or some other animal lover most pet owners have a strong connecting bond to their animal. We love them and take care of them like our own and feed them and think of them as our babies and so naturally we have created breeds and animals that better help us humans with our tasks. We give feed them, we bathe them and dress them up as if they were human just like us. There’s no wonder we call them man’s best friend in some cases.
In addition many of these animals are smart enough and trained enough that they can be full time service animals to assist and guide a person that has special needs.
Some guidelines when hanging around someone with service animals:
- They are NOT normal pets. Don’t pet them or feed them or try to play with them because they are likely on duty and there to watch and monitor and guide someone that has a special requirement or need.
- If a service animal such as a dog is lying down that may just be their trained resting position and is likely still attentive and on duty. Think of a soldier at ease or at attention.
- An animal such is this is given certain kinds of foods and feed times for optimal health and minimize times having to go to the restroom.
- Seeing a person with a service animal may mean a person may need additional special assistance so don’t be afraid to go the extra mile and offer help as needed.
- Attend the person, not the animal.
- These animals can serve as eyes and ears, or be there to soothe a person or help someone stabilize while standing or even minimize effects in events like seizures. Some may help pull wheelchairs. They can alert someone who can’t hear or help carry and pick up things for a person. And they can also help people with PTSD or remind them or things pertaining to medical requirements.
- The animals are often quite smart and trained and rarely disobey commands except for good reason such as danger or threat to the person which may not be obvious at first.
- Animals can allow the people additional freedoms they didn’t previous have and assist a person in being mobile.
- The service animals must be allowed access to most buildings according to the disability rehabilitation act of ’73. You don’t need a special license to have a service animal or to identify the animal. This is regardless of allergies and fear of the animals. Obviously it may be best to assign a worker who has an allergy to a different location temporarily to accommodate both individuals. And the only time the animal can be asked to be removed is if the animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to stop it such as an animal “not trained to go to the bathroom properly”. In all other cases a person is not allowed to ask the person to remove the animal. A person should be allowed other services even without the animal present should this situation occur. A person should still be treated with dignity or no different or less equally than any other client including charging different fees. Also a place of service should not have to provide care such as food or nourishment for the animal also.
- They normally must be leashed or harnessed unless that interferes with the work or service the animal is providing to the individual with the disability.
- Proof of disability is not needed and probing questions about the type of disability should not be asked.
- Respect the person and the animal’s person space including any objects such as canes or wheelchairs etc. Don’t grab a hold of a person’s wheelchair or other things and start moving things without permission. And if a person is visually impared it may be good to vocalize your intent or movement to assist in guiding the individual. Also consider moving furniture in a space to assist a person in a wheelchair to get through if needed. A person is entitled to autonomy and independence and may want to show they can be independent so don’t take it personally if they decline assistance.
- Respect a person’s dignity. Don’t patronize or speak louder or softer than you normally would or treat an adult like a child. They may just need additional assistance and are proficient in other areas. Do not rush them or slow things down to abnormal speeds. Also be sure to focus and not interrupt. And don’t assume or rush to judgment. More than not this requires additional listening.
- Also respect that a trainer or handler may have a way of correcting or speaking to the animal for maximum effectiveness.
- Be sure to clarify and speak in the way a person desires to be spoken to. If they prefer more complex or simplified directions or information then accommodate and acquiesce.
- Think about inclusivity when helping a person. They want to just live and function as any other individual and make their way in life without any special treatment. Do not isolate them from other people as all they want is the same good services as any one else. If you have dealt with someone’s service animal and person as a regular it may be intimidating if you start working somewhere and have never dealt with that scenario. Help explain and bring that individual up to speed and they are more likely to understand offer to help after knowing what to do.
If you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and pause before reacting you can make another person’s life a little better. There’s a saying that you can get anything you want if you help someone achieve their goals. So help someone by making their life progress a bit better. It’s not easy but we can make it happen.