Monday, October 17, 2016

We Need to Work Together – Shelters & Rescues to help our Veterans & First Responders

A pet does not care what your race, gender, sex, or nationality is. A pet does not judge you.  A pet cares about you as a person and will give you unconditional love in return for a warm loving home, food and water.  This is the reason why pets are such good companions when it comes to helping to treat individuals with Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is similar to having panic or anxiety attacks, a form of depression and stresses something a pet can pick up on better than even a human counterpart such as a spouse.  Pets are critical to helping individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to manage their attacks whether at home or when they go out in public.  Luckily, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Service Dogs qualify until the American with Disabilities Act stating “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability” (2011).  However, pets whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA therefore do not qualify under the guidelines or protection of the ADA Law.  Those pets are not allowed to enter restaurants, stores, or other facilities unless they are dog-friendly establishments. 

Every day twenty-two veterans take their lives due to their suffering of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  First Responders such as police, emergency medical technicians, nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, and fire fighters are also high risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of their employment.  These individuals choose to protect our lives over their own, they leave their families every day knowing and their families knowing that they are going to do their best to save a life and save a family from the one horrible door knock but at the same time it may cost them.  They pray, their families pray and we should all pray that our armed service members and our first



responders are safe and remain safe.  However, behind the scenes it does cost them.  The things they experience, the things they see and the things they have to go through are embroidered inside them.  It may not be visible now but eventually it will catch up with them and come out, it is then it starts to affect them and in affect their family – this is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.   This is where a companion or better yet a service dog is their most valuable asset.  It is their “battle buddy” to veterans or a confidant to the first responders, it doesn’t matter what a pet is consider to them it helps to ease the anxiety, depression and stress.  It is someone who will be there for them and give them the love even when no one else understands.   

Just as these individuals is needing rescuing with a service or companion dog they are able to rescue dogs from shelters and rescues giving pets a second chance, when those dogs may not have had a chance.  Shelters and rescues need to work with local veteran committees, first responders, and their families to see how each other can help each other.  It is a win-win for all. 

When someone abuses the use of a service dog with a fake service dog with a kit they purchased of the internet in an establishment it causes that establishment to question all service dog teams entering their establishment which is an undue stress onto those already stressed.  Let’s think about it, would you want that added stress added onto your loved one?  Added onto you?  NO, I highly doubt it.  These individuals and their families have sacrificed enough.  Stricter laws and higher penalties are needed to be added in order to eliminate fake service dogs, making it easier for the real service dogs.

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