Monday, April 16, 2012

Puppy paws and Down Syndrome

Critters, puppies, dogs.  The benefits of having a pet are well known.  But what are the benefits of having a pet when you have a disability?

Pet Therapy

What is it?
.Community programs that bring animals and people together for companionship and therapy began in the 1970s, and are growing rapidly. The introduction of animals into the patients' environment is a way of humanizing health care. This is becoming increasing important because the more that high technology is introduced into society, the greater the need for "high touch." Naisbitt, 1982.

Among seniors pet therapy.........................

  • Diminishes emotional pain
  • Diminishes physical pain
  • Reduces boredom
  • Reduces anxiety, and
  • Makes people happy

.Seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less often than those who don't. In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed dog owners had a 21 percent lower level of physician contact than non-owners.
....Medication costs dropped from an average of $3.80 per patient per day to $1.18 per patient per day when nursing homes allowed for pets to be introduced into patient's environments. Nursing homes in New York, Missouri and Texas were all used in the study.

..Among kids that are in
...homeless shelters or
pet therapy

  • Gentleness
  • Caring
  • Responsibility
  • How to interact safely with a pet, and most importantly,
  • Allows them to love a pet
"Cisco" and two of the children from Martha's Village and Kitchen playing on the grass.
....Children exposed to educational programs on the humane treatment of animals display enhanced empathy for humans compared with children not exposed
to such programs.

Service Dogs

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990), a dog is considered a "service dog" if it has been "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability." Also according to the ADA, a 'disability' is a "mental or physical condition which substantially limits a major life activity" such as:
•  caring for one's self
•  performing manual tasks
•  walking
•  seeing
•  hearing
•  speaking
•  breathing
•  learning
•  working
•  as well as some disabilities that may not be visible,
such as: deafness epilepsy psychiatric conditions
To be considered a service dog/animal, the dog/animal must be trained to perform tasks directly related to the person's disability.
Example: Chris has a hearing disability and can't hear sounds such as a smoke alarms, doorbells, sirens, or her name being called. Chris is otherwise able to function with no other assistance. Chris has a dog named Dusty. If Dusty is trained to let Chris know when a sound occurs (e.g., smoke alarm, doorbell), Dusty is considered a service dog. On the other hand, if Dusty is only trained to retrieve items around the house and does not know how to alert Chris to sounds, Dusty is not considered a service dog for Chris, because the task of retrieving is not directly related to Chris' disability.

Minimum Standards for Service Animals

The Minimum Standards for Service Dogs, were developed by a team of service dog trainers, animal behaviorists, people with disabilities, and veterinarians to guide the development of the Service Dog Education System.

The Minimum Standards includes only those recommended characteristics and minimum behaviors required of all service dogs. The characteristics and specialized behaviors required of individual dogs should vary, based on the individual requirements of the person for whom the dog is trained.
Download and Print the Minimum Standards for Service Animals
Purchase a soft-bound copy of the Minimum Standards for Service Animals

Other Terms Used to Refer to Service Dogs/Animals

To be consistent with the legal definition in the ADA, Delta Society uses the following terms:
Service Animal
Any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
Service Dog
Adapted from the term service animal, service dog is a species-specific term to generically describe any dog in the role of a service animal.
Most of the time, the information that refers to 'service dogs' also applies to 'service animals'. While the term 'service animal' is legally defined, some organizations use the term 'assistance animal' or 'assistance dog'.
The terminology used to label specific types of work dogs perform for people with disabilities has not been standardized. For example, a dog trained to help a person walk might be referred to by different sources as a 'mobility dog', a 'walker dog', or a 'support dog'. In addition to the wide variety of terms used, many service dogs are cross-trained to perform more than one category of work (such as guide and mobility for a person who is blind and has severe arthritis) and labeling them by the work they do becomes cumbersome.
Many individuals choose to identify their service animal generically (as 'service animals', 'service dogs', 'service cats', etc.) because it identifies the roles of the animals without disclosing the nature of the persons' disabilities, and it is consistent with the terminology of the laws that protect them.

The Difference between:
Service, Therapy, Companion and "Social/therapy" Animals

Service Animals are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Service animals are not considered 'pets'.
Therapy Animals are not legally defined by federal law, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have "no pets" policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals.
Companion Animal is not legally defined, but is accepted as another term for pet.
'Social/therapy' Animals have no legal definition. They often are animals that did not complete service animal or service dog training due to health, disposition, trainability, or other factors, and are made available as pets for people who have disabilities. These animals might or might not meet the definition of service animals.

Laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities
who have trained service animals
The federal civil rights law, the American’s with Disabilities
Act (ADA), Title III, 28 CFR Sec 36.104, defines a service animal as
any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks
for a person with a disability (the disability might not be visible). By
law, a service animal is not considered a pet. Most service animals are
dogs; they can be any breed or size, and are not legally required to wear
special equipment or tags. The ADA does not require proof or
“certification ”of the service dog’s training. Service animals are trained
to do specific tasks for the benefit of people with physical or mental
Federal (e.g., 28 CFR Sec 36.302) and state laws protect the
rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their
trained service animals in taxis, buses, trains, stores, restaurants,
doctors’ offices, schools, parks, hotels and other public places. Federal
laws which protect individuals with disabilities include the ADA; the
Fair Housing Amendments Act (1988); Sect. 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act (1973); The Air Carrier Access Act (1986), and other regulations.
State and local laws* which protect the rights of individuals who
have disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals are (fill in
the code numbers of the laws that apply):
*NOTE: If federal and state or local law conflict, the law that
provides greater protection for the individual with the disability will
prevail. For example, if state law grants access only by service dogs that
do guide work, and the service dog in question performs work other than
guide work, federal law will apply. The person with the disability must
be permitted access with the service dog.
The person who is accompanied by the service animal is
responsible for its stewardship (behavior, care and well-being), must
obey animal welfare laws (such as leash, cruelty or other similar
regulations), and is liable for any damage done by the service animal.

Some rules for interacting
with people with service dogs:
1. Speak to the person first. Do not aim
distracting or rude noises at the dog.
2. Do not touch the service dog without
asking for, and receiving, permission.
3. Do not offer food to the service dog.
4. Do not ask personal questions about the
handler’s disability, or otherwise intrude
on his or her privacy.
5. Don’t be offended if the handler does not
wish to chat about the service dog.

Be gentle.

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