Today we are seeing more service dogs and assistance dogs than ever before.
They are not all labradors and golden retrievers.
Not all assistance dogs are for the blind.
Many disabilities are not visible.
If you see a person with an Assistance Dog or it looks like they may be training an Assistance Dog, please give them space.
Very often the person training the dog is the person with the disability.
That person may have PTSD and do not want to engage with people.
Some people may have an Assistance dog to alert them to medical conditions.
These people rely on the dog to keep them safe. The dogs are trained not to be distracted. So it’s easy to imagine they are trained not to be distracted. So it’s easy to imagine the stress both handler and dog experience when a person initiates conversation or tries to touch the dog.
If you see someone with a dog in a training or Assistance dog coat or jacket, please leave them alone. Do not talk to the dog or handler, do not pat the dog, do not stare at the handler or dog.
I have witnessed people deliberately attempting to distract the dog by whistling or making kissy noises at the dog. This can have dangerous outcomes. Recently a lady who relied on her assistance dog to alert to impending epileptic seizures was very badly injured when someone deliberately distracted her dog. Her dog failed to alert her to a seizure, not only that but this dog was trained to find a safe place for his handler so that she would not be injured during this seizure. Unfortunately, due to being distracted, this dog did neither of his trained tasks and the lady was seriously injured.
Please do not talk to the dog or handler.
Please do not look or stare at the dog or handler.
Please do not touch the dog.