My pet VS. service animal

 In #zerobarriers, What’s Wrong Wednesday
Holding up my very small, shaggy Yorkie mix as if he was to be the next king, similar to the Lion King scene where the monkey holds up Simba the lion cub and displays him for all to see.

My dog Popcorn

A little over a year ago, my family and I decided that we were going to adopt a dog from a local rescue. My wife and I both grew up with dogs and felt that it would be healthy for our children to have the same opportunities that we had growing up.  We knew that it would be a challenge, but in the end, we adopted a puppy.  My wife and children settled on the name Popcorn despite my objections to this. All difficulties aside, this puppy fit right in with our young family. He has loads of energy to keep up with our young children and when it’s time to relax, he is always willing to cuddle.  Our cat may not always appreciate Popcorn’s eagerness to play, but they have their moments.

Popcorn is loyal to us and very protective of his family. Popcorn helps to teach responsibility to our children and I hope that every shoe or pair of pants that was chewed up served as a lesson to pick up after yourself. Although Popcorn is part of our family and would love to tag along with us running errands; this is not always possible. He is our pet, not a service animal. Service animals are meticulously trained to perform specific tasks for the person they are trained to support. Service animals provide accommodations to make everyday tasks possible, even safer, things that a companion animal or common pet cannot do consistently.

I am not saying that pets are not valuable to us and understand that they are great at reducing stress while provide life-changing companionship. And trust me, I am aware of the celebrity dogs command.

A dog graces the cover of national publication Time Magazine

Good or bad, dogs always get national attention

I am also mindful of how a service animal can  impact someone’s life. Read how a service dog named Paddington helps to make life happen here. Unfortunately for these life changing animals and those who depend on them, their reputation is taking some hits.  The reason being is that people are ordering service animal vests for their PETS! I would never even dream of bringing Popcorn into a store. Even walks to the park can be challenging with him, especially when we meet other dogs.

When a service animal is attacked by another dog while working it can cause irreversible damage, sometimes leading to the dog needing to retire from providing life-changing support. What is really sad is this is nothing new.

We talked about people disguising their pets as service animals 5 years ago.  See the issue as it was then here.

I am not saying that you cannot go anywhere with your pets. I am just saying that when you put a service animal vest on your pet to bring them somewhere because you just couldn’t be without them, you could rob people of their independence. If you don’t believe me read this story.

What does your pet do for you? Do you have a service animal and feel that you have been negatively stereotyped because of fake service dogs? We would love to hear your thoughts on this right here.

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