A service dog without their owner may approach to ask for help

Service animals assist people with disabilities and are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Permitted by law to enter any and all public places with their handlers, service dogs have very serious jobs. After rigorous obedience training, these dedicated dogs carry out necessary, life-sustaining tasks and can seek help should an emergency arise. However, if you ever see a service dog without their owner, it could mean they need your help right away.

What Does a Service Dog Look Like?

There are obvious markers of a dog who’s working for a human handler. Most notably, they sport a colorful vest that clearly states they’re a service dog. They will appear calm at all times, and they’re trusty, dependable, and competent. However, that’s where the similarities end. As far as the ADA is concerned, service dogs can be any breed, weight, size, or age.

Do Not Disturb

Most people recognize the significance of service dogs, and it makes sense to “ignore” them, so as not to be a distraction. With this in mind, you should always ask permission to pet a service dog. Parents should definitely teach young children that service dogs are off-limits.

In addition, acknowledging these animals may bring unwanted attention to their human handlers. Out of respect to people’s sensitivities, it’s best to simply leave service animals alone to do their jobs.

A Service Dog Without Their Owner

So, what happens when you see a service dog without their owner?

Earlier this summer, a woman posted a public service announcement online that detailed a dangerous situation she experienced. Her service dog, who’s highly-trained to find help in case of a seizure, sought assistance from another person. Instead of actually needing help, the dog’s owner simply tripped and fell down.

The reason this story is so compelling is because the individual whom the dog sought out for help tried to shoo the animal away. The dog was swatted at and repeatedly told to leave.

So, while it’s important to never interfere with a service dog’s job duties, it’s equally important to follow them if you’re ever approached. In other words, if you ever see a service dog without their owner, respond immediately.

The woman who posted her story online has noted that she’s going to attach a patch to her service dog’s vest that says “If I’m alone, follow me” to avoid future confusion.

In the meantime, please help us spread the word about service dogs and their significance to those who depend on them. They’ve been trained not to bark or make noise, so if you’re ever nudged by a service dog, do whatever you can to assist.

If you have additional questions or concerns about service animals, please contact the friendly team at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital.