Service dogs have full accessibility – they get to go where their human partner goes (with very limited exceptions – surgery, the X-ray room, the MRI room…).
According to the newest ADA guidelines and regulations, service dogs, when out in public, must be kept within 3 feet of their handler/partner. There are some exceptions if the dogs is actively performing a task for their human partner that requires them to move beyond the 3 foot limit, but for the most part, 3 feet is it. Our service dog leashes are short.
This inquiring mind wants to know why the people who were teamed up with these service dogs left them behind when they went into the stores where their service dogs were stolen.
There have been two recent instances of a service dog left behind when their handler went inside a store. One tied her dog up outside as if it were a pet. The other left it in the car, again, as if it were a pet.
Service dogs are not pets.
Dogs that are treated like pets in some instances and not in others are not service dogs.
Either the dog is a service dog, and is treated like one, kept within 3 feet of the handler in public, full access, and all, or it is a pet and is tied up outside stores, left in cars, left at home, has no access rights at all. There is no middle ground of a dog that is sometimes a service dog and sometimes a pet dog.
We can’t have it both ways. I know it’s sometimes inconvenient to attach that leash to the harness and wrangle the dog out of the car for short trips, but either the dog is a service dog and stays with you to provide that service, or it’s a pet dog and should stay home or in pet-friendly areas.
I know sometimes facing the world with a service dog by your side can be intimidating because other people make it a nerve-wracking experience, but wussing out and leaving the dog behind does no one any good at all. The dog expects to be by your side all the time. When you sometimes take the dog and sometimes leave it, you are sending mixed messages to the dog, weakening its training, and making it less able to be a service dog. If we want our lives back, with full access and activities, and that means relying on a dog to help us, then we need to suck it up and take that dog everywhere.
If you needed a wheelchair to get around, would you tie it up outside because you didn’t want to deal with it in the store?
If you needed an oxygen tank to breathe, would you leave it in the car because it was too much hassle hauling it out of the car and into the store?
If you wouldn’t do those, then why do you leave your essential service dog tied up outside the store, or in the car?