Nicolas Steenhout Profile picture
Jun 19, 2018 16 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I was not going to get involved because so many people have jumped on the band wagon. But it pisses me off. Warning: Rant coming on!

First, bit of background on me: I am a wheelchair user. I have a service dog trained by @fondationmira. This is my second service dog. I've been involved with service dog legislations in the US, in New Zealand, and in Canada. I know a fair bit about service dogs.
The girl who originally wrote that was posting on her Tumblr. It transpires that she was training her own dog, a family pet dog Mastiff. Who has since been deemed not appropriate for that kind of work (doh!). She does/did not know about proper service dog behaviour.
A service dog "fetching" help for their human would STAY with the human and bark until help arrives. Someone I know even trained her dog to speed dial 911 on the home phone for situations like that. Not go and get someone.
A dog roaming free is not under its human's control. One of the things that allow me to go where I need to go with my service dog is that it must be under control at all times.
That means having it on a leash when in public - this kid said her dog doesn't have to be on a leash because it's a service dog. Wrong. But if during a seizure she's unable to hold the leash, the dog remaining by the owner shows the dog is still under control.
Now imagine that a service dog is tasked with running around until it finds a human to collect and bring back. What if an ambulance arrives before he's back, the human is taken away. The dog is now without its human. Risk for the dog.
In this story, the dog ran off after the girl fell (read the Tumblr!). It was actually a couple blocks away, pawing at a woman to get her attention. If a 2 year old Mastiff came at me running, then pawed at me, I'd actually be concerned the dog was attacking me, vest or not.
Now, on the topic of service dog vests. Anyone can buy the bloody things off the internet. Same with "registration cards". No testing, no verification. These vests are a con. A dog wearing a vest means NOTHING. My dog and I routinely get aggressed by dogs wearing vests.
The number of fake service or emotional support dogs out there is a real problem. Particularly those who are poorly self-trained. I KNOW there's a need for self-trained dogs, but it needs to be done by someone who has a clue about training dogs, and about service dogs too.
Not done by a teenage girl trying to turn the family pet Mastiff into a service dog with know background or knowledge on how to train a dog. Focus on basic obedience first. Like ignore other dogs. Sit, Stay, Down, etc. Ignore humans too.
Because that's the thing, a service dog must ignore other humans. It's a question of safety. If they are trained to seek other humans' attention, then they aren't focused on their human with a disability and it can be dangerous.
Not to mention that a service dog paying attention to other humans can cause endless problems. There are people out there who are quite allergic to dogs. There are people who are really afraid of dogs. So no, a proper service dog will not go find other humans.
I foresee that after this tweet, I'll get even more people than the dozen or so every day coming up to me to interact, pet or talk to my service dog.

This tweet is going to do much more harm than good.
End of rant.
I will be writing a post about this, and answering many of the questions, after the dust settles. For some reason, there are people on Twitter treating the subject as an invitation for personal attacks.

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