Service Animals

Although interactions between humans and animals can sometimes have negative results, it is important to recognize that there are many ways that both humans and animals can benefit from interacting. One such positive interaction are the wonderful relationships that service animals can have with their partners.

Wounded Veterans

Dog and veteranService dogs can assist veterans with both mental and physical challenges. However, veterans are often underserved by organizations that train and place service animals. There is a critical need for service animals in the rehabilitation of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, and a variety of physical disabilities. These service animals can provide some much-needed companionship and emotional support for those returning from service. However, there are groups such as Pets for Vets and C4H that train dogs from shelters to work with veterans.

Physical Disabilities

A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Service dogs assist people living with a physical disability by performing tasks that their partner cannot do or has trouble doing, like picking up dropped items, opening doors, and turning lights on or off. Guide dogs can assist those with low vision or blindness with navigation tasks and hearing dogs are trained to signal the hearing impaired. Dogs can also be trained to alert others when their owners have seizures.

Therapeutic Service Providers

Animal-assisted therapy is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, or cognitive well-being. These animals are owned pets that volunteer their comfort and emotional support in a variety of human service facilities, such as hospitals or in areas that have been affected by tragedy. These animals can provide comfort and emotional support to people who are dealing with trauma. Therapeutic service animals were used after events such as the Sandy Hook Shootings and the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Prison Training Programs

Prison and DogsMany programs that train service animals use prison programs as a part of the training process for their puppies.

Puppies can live with an inmate handler who they spend most of their time with. Together, they go to classes, recreation areas, and dining halls. Inmates provide the puppies with socialization by bringing the dogs with them whenever possible. Whether going to a medical appointment, the TV lounge, or the family and friends visiting room, the puppy is usually right by the handler’s side.

By participating in such programs, inmates can learn positive social and job related skills while giving back to the community in a rewarding way. It has also been shown that dogs that are raised in prisons can complete their advanced training in half of the time of those who grow up in foster homes exclusively.


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