Nowadays, most people know general guidelines when it comes to service dog etiquette. Refraining from petting a service dog while they’re working is an important rule, along with knowing that legitimate service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners nearly everywhere.
However, one topic that’s rarely discussed is the very real possibility that one of these animals may approach you without their owner. Knowing what this means and how to respond appropriately may mean the difference between life and death for a service dog handler.
Chances are you’ve been out at a restaurant, hotel, or grocery store and have seen dogs in service animal vests accompanying their owners. You may have even considered getting your dog one of those vests so readily obtained on Amazon (advertising that you can “take your dog anywhere”), and passing them off as therapy dogs.
Many people are now doing this, and what’s the harm?
Most pet owners would love to spend more time with our dogs, and bringing them along wherever we go sounds pretty good. But, at West Park Animal Hospital, we are here with a plea: Don’t pretend your dog is a service animal. Here’s why!
For centuries dogs have been our allies and companions. Since their domestication, they’ve used their innate skills and traits to work for us, guard us, and provide companionship. Because dogs have adapted to living among us so successfully, it’s no surprise to know that dogs have also been instrumental in times of war.
From battles between empires to major world wars, military or war dogs have been a definite part of our ancient through recent history. From Attila the Hun’s conquests to current missions in Afghanistan, dogs have played a significant role in saving lives and aiding in critical tasks.