Thursday, October 25, 2007

More discussion on service animals

Several weeks ago, I was engaged in a conversation with a family friend and was explaining the Access Ability blog to him. One of the subjects that I discussed was a letter I had received from a reader, inquiring about therapy animals and access to hospitals in California. This conversation then took on a shift to include comparing service animals and therapy animals.

One of the questions my friend asked was what kinds of animals are used as service animals? (We have previously discussed guide dogs, so I didn’t even approach that group.) He assumed, and I agreed, that it is most often dogs, but I did explain about the case of the Missouri woman who was fighting with her city to recognize her monkey as a service animal. Additionally, on several occasions when I’ve flown with my Seeing Eye dog, I’ve had flight attendants tell me about a woman with some motor impairment, who regularly flies with an assistance monkey. The monkey will open her drinks for her, insert a straw and then hold it up for her to drink.

Of course, there are also other animals being used as service animals. One of the first that may come to mind are
guide horses for the blind,
a novel approach for providing an animal guide which attempts to maximize the miniature horse’s longer lifespan over that of conventional guide dogs.

But, I still defer to my assertion that it is most often dogs being used. Last week, I read a news article about a school presentation being made by somebody with their Hearing dog from
Texas Hearing and Service Dogs.
I think that dogs are well suited to do this type of work for people who are deaf. I would think there is room for other types of animals to conduct these functions, but am not certain that others are being trained in this capacity.

On an ADHD web site, I later also read about
4 Paws for Ability,
an organization that trains and provides service animals for people who have often been turned away from other service animal organizations.

One thing that 4 Paws does, which is quite interesting to me, is that they place animals with children. Some times, they even certify the parent and child together to work as a three part team with the dog. It basically surprised me that they place dogs with children. From my own experience, I know that it is a rare situation that a teenager will be able to get a guide dog.

They claim to be the innovater of the training and use of Autism assistance dogs. This is the organization’s apparent niche as the web site states that 90% of applicants are those working toward getting an Autism assistance dog.

Also on its web site, 4 Paws specifies it is not taking applications for psychiatric service dogs or emotional support animals for adult partners. I also find that note particularly interesting, being I had never heard of the term “psychiatric service dog” until working on my previous post. Now, I see it again, in such a brief time span.

I know there are many other service animal organizations out there doing some good work. I just don’t have their names or web sites handy at this time. If you would like to leave a comment and share the name of your favorite service dog organization, please do so. If you have personal experience with one of these, please share that as well.


Logan said...

Logan here. I'm a service dog from My Wonderful Dog. a 501c3 nonprofit in Maine. For those living in northern New England, it's a great organization. Here is their web site:

Ron Graham said...


Thanks for providing the URL to
My Wonderful Dog.

I was not previously familiar with this organization, but am now enlightened and happy to share it with the readers of Access Ability.

High paw, Logan!