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Letter: Service dogs

I’m responding to Recorder articles “Should service dogs be regulated” and “Emotional Support Dogs” that ran in January. Laws changed 2010-2011, omitting “comfort and emotional support animals” as service dogs. Some of the real problems are:

Those utilizing capital gain in training disabled people to train their service dogs and don’t have proper accessible facilities, 6-to 8-week classes per $100 or more — an improper length of time to train any service dog team — leaves the disabled feeling helpless when failing. It takes six months to a year or longer to train such teams, as service and guide dogs must also train in public places to learn how to act in different situations.

There are no legal caps on what service and guide dog programs may charge ($3,500 to $25,000) each. These are prices most disabled cannot afford, insurance companies won’t pay and there’s no community support from clubs and organizations to help them raise such funds! It may be best to place caps on what programs may charge and lengthen time-frames for training.

Laws were established to protect the disabled and give them the same rights everyone has to equally train their dogs, in ways that best serve them! The disabled know better what their needs are. No disabled person is the same, each are unique! They are disabled, but not unable to accomplish tasks nor are they stupid.

Reports also show training programs’ guide and service dogs can attack people. A guide dog attacked and injured a child. My service dog was attacked by a seizure alert dog, threatened by guide dogs, as well as having numerous pet dogs attack us. Please keep your pets on a leash and away from working dogs! Maybe stricter laws for programs and pet owners alike is the answer.

Bogus websites are used by people who want their “pets”to be service dogs, to purchase vests and service dog identification cards! Beware, these sites capitalize on your lack of knowledge and causes tyranny toward the disabled as well.

I’ve researched this since 1993, trained service dogs for 20 years and received prestigious awards for my advocacy work. Ever heard of “help not hurt?” Stop targeting the disabled for utilizing their rights.

CYNTHIA DODGE

trainer/advocate

Greenfield

Service dogs should not be regulated. There are plenty of people who do not have the money to pay for "regulated" service animals from people that say they are dog trainers. My golden retriever, Sadie, has been with me since she was 6 weeks old and I have trained her everyday of her life. I paid $40 to get her an ID from http://servicedogcertifications.org so people stop harassing me about her. Also, I didn't have to pony up the hundreds that these so called "trainers" have requested. Let there be a few scammers running around so that people truly in need do not have to go through the government red tape and costly trainers.

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