From Lisa: Service Animals & the Media

  • March 14, 2018

I love dogs. In fact, I would like to pet my two dogs all day long everyday (see photo—aren’t they adorable?). Ytwo white dogs with tongues our looking at cameraet, despite their utter charm, I know that I can’t bring my dogs to work or into places of business because my dogs are not trained service animals. How many of you have heard a story in the news lately about someone trying to say that their pet is a service animal when it isn’t? What may be misunderstood is that this action is harmful to those whose lives are greatly benefited from a service animal, which is far more often the case.

Service animals are trained to provide a specific task or tasks for a person with a disability. That animal may allow the person access to education, to a job, or to a more full and inclusive life. But you don’t hear that in the news. The news rarely covers when a person who is blind is able to work because they have a dog to guide them, or a veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is able to live independently because of their service animal, or a child with severe diabetes can go to school because of their alert dog. But, you’ll probably see a news headline when someone tries to bring a peacock on an airplane.

It is important to remember that service animals are a form of support, no different than a wheelchair or a hearing aid, that should never be denied. Today you will read ten facts about service animals. Whether you have a disability, know someone with a disability, or just wonder about how this works; I urge you to read this article. And next time you read the headlines, please remember the harmful message being spread for people who use service animals. 

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides free legal advocacy services to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.

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