Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

June 3, 2013

Veteran's Corner


Mineral Wells Index

— Last week I received an email from a veteran in California, seeking assistance in replacing his dog that had to be put down after attacking a small child. The kennel that sold the dog to the veteran would not honor the request to replace the animal. After some research I had disappointing news for the veteran. When ordering the dog the veteran failed to tell the kennel: one, that he was a veteran; and, two, that the dog was to be used for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury therapy.

A “working or protective” dog was sold to the veteran.

Service dog, therapy dog, working dog  what’s the difference and does it really matter?

The answers are “yes” and “yes.”

Yes, there is a big difference between the classifications. Yes, it does matter to the dog, the handler and the public in general.

Here’s why:

A working dog classification could mean the designation provided by organized pedigree groups such as the American Kennel Club. Working group breeds are bred to perform such jobs as guarding property, individuals, rescues, as well as police and military work. The size of these dogs generally are large to giant in size, strong animals, capable of intense labor and fighting defensively. These dogs serve a specific purpose that requires specialized training to become professional working dogs. Their effort and value goes beyond mere pedigree or championship. There are more tan 14 subcategories of professional working dogs on record.  

A service or specialized assistance dog is specifically trained to assist humans with disabilities. They may provide functions such as sight or hearing. Many service dogs help companions cope with various mental conditions like post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and autism. Service dogs also support people with medical conditions including diabetes, epilepsy, narcolepsy and service allergies. They can also be trained to pull wheelchairs, carry oxygen, life-support equipment or medications for their human partners.  

Service dogs earn another important designation. They are protected under the 1990 Code of Federal Regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA). This legislation provides access to service animals working with their humans in any area where the public is permitted.  In the United States it is not required by law, ADA,  to register an animal used for human service.

It is not unusual to find service dogs with their partners in all venues and arenas, anywhere people go.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. They are trained to provide comfort, affection and entertainment to people in nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, schools and retirement homes. These dogs are often used in therapeutic environments, such as assisting with teaching children experiencing learning disabilities and as stress reducers with victims of accidents, crimes and natural disasters and crises. Therapy dogs are not service dogs and are not protected by ADA regulations. Public institutions may limit or prohibit access to a therapy dog. Training required for a therapy dog designation varies, and it is much less rigorous than that of service dogs.

Regardless of the dog, whether working dog, service dog or therapy dog, these dogs remain our best friends, favorite family member, loyal assistants and in most cases, our heroes! Researching information regarding these animals, the following sites were found for the dog desired. For therapy or service dogs go to www.caninecompanionsforindependence , Santa Rosa, Calif. For protective dogs go to www.protectiondogsales.com,  Frankfort, Ky.

Remember, be detailed and informative when speaking to these kennels in order to avoid problems.

Speak to you again next week.