Dogs in restaurants are more common than ever, despite being illegal for mere pets, a trend that service dog owners don't like
It was a huge victory for the people that really need service dogs, like Brozman, for instance, or war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. One of the prescribed treatments for PTSD victims happens to be the presence of a service dog.
"It can cost us $5,000 to train these dogs for veterans," said Robert Misseri, president of a service dog training organization called Guardians of Rescue. "Poorly behaved dogs make things more difficult for the vets who need our dogs."
But the benefits of owning a service dog can be voided in a hurry if the dog encounters another dog without the same composure, training, and restraint.
"Our graduates have been bitten by dogs in public, provoked, and mistreated by other dogs," said Angie Schact, an instructor at Canine Companions for Independence, a program that requires a minimum six-month program for their graduates. "They have gone through so much more training than the average dog. We've raised the issue with the Department of Justice. We're serious."
But when the ADA was originally drafted, according to Paul Bowskill, general manager of ServiceDogsAmerica.com, it "provided for very few mental disabilities. Most of the qualifying disabilities at the time were physical and [visible]."
After the ADA was passed, guidelines were expanded to include mental illness and seizure risk, in addition to physical ailment, so visual cues became far less notable.
"You can't tell if someone needs a service dog now," said Bowskill. "The law was written so you can train your own service dog, and by law, you don't need an ID." And as we, as a culture, become even more accustomed to steady streams of "Sure you can!" responses and discomfort demolishing inventions, our reluctance to leave pets behind is only trending upwards.
But for service dog owners just trying to lead an autonomous existence and those patrons simply tired of seeing dogs in places previously forbidden, it's a scary thought. "Sometimes, [people] just assume that my service dog is a fake," said Brozman. "I explain to people again and again, and I show them that my dog is perfectly trained and there to help me, yet people still stigmatize us."
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