It’s amazing what dogs can do. Dogs can be a lot more than at-home door greeters or YouTube stars. When trained, dogs are capable of advanced tasks that are very helpful, and often necessary to their human owners.
How Dogs Became Aids for the Disabled in the United States
A guide dog, often referred to more broadly as a service dog, can help a blind or visually impaired person navigate the world without hitting obstacles in their path. Although dogs have been referred to as guides for the blind as early as the mid 16th century, the practice of training dogs as service animals did not begin in the United States until the late 1920s.
The use of “Seeing Eye Dogs” in the United States began when a Nashville man, Morris Frank, read about dogs being trained as guides for blinded veterans of World War I in Germany. Frank wrote to the trainer, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, an American training German shepherd police dogs in Switzerland. Frank and Eustis trained with the dog “Buddy” in Switzerland.
First Guide Dog on Busy NYC Street
Amid a throng of reporters, Morris showed the United States how his training with Buddy allowed him to navigate the streets of NYC without aid from another person. Today, the organization says that it has trained over 14,000 guide dogs. There are other organizations that help provide guide dogs to the blind.
Morris Frank pictured with guide dog, “Buddy.” The two showed how dogs could be used to guide the blind on busy streets.
Service Animals Help Recover Independence of Disabled
Today service dogs serve more than just the blind. Service dogs can provide assistance to those with hearing impairments, disabilities, mental illnesses (such as PTSD), seizure discorder, mobility impairment, and diabetes. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, service animals are defined as animals that have been trained to do work or duties to relieve a person’s disability.
Definition of Service Animal Provided in ADA Excludes Comfort Animals
Though the purr of a cat, or your dog’s excited leaps towards the door when you destress from a long day of work may do more for you than any anti-anxiety medication, common household pets do not perform “work” for a disability as defined within the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Litigation Examples Arising from ADA
Uber faced a series of lawsuits in early 2015 from disabled passengers with wheelchairs to blind passengers with guide dogs. In May of 2016, the ride-hailing giant (well-known in Austin for attempting to write its own rulebook) settled a putative California federal class action accusing the ride-hailing service of violating the ADA and alleging drivers for the company’s UberX service often refuse rides to blind customers with service animals.
The outcome? Uber agreed to pay the National Federation of the blind $225k over three years, and perhaps more importantly, to publish a revised policy to bolster the protections for guide dogs. There will be “no exceptions for allergies or religious objections” and record keeping of any infractions that may occur with the new policy. Blind plaintiffs who had been customers of Uber stated that the company had denied them service, left them in inclement weather when service was refused to the guide dog, or known to harass guide dogs or disabled customers.
Service Dogs Use Sense of Smell to Protect
Dogs can sniff out when you’ve been petting another creature – and they can be trained to sniff out bombs. A trip to the Austin Bergstrom International Airport might give you insight into how an explosive dog detector goes about his work. With more than 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose, the dogs guided past travelers in security lines are hard at work keeping passengers safe.
Sense of Smell Prevents Injury from Bombs, Cancer
Studies in Japan revealed that dogs were more effective at sniffing out Bowel Cancer than doctors were detecting the cancer through traditional screening procedures.
A Labrador was trained to identify the smell of a patient with bowel cancer, and tell the difference between a healthy patient.
All About Police and Public Safety Dogs
A dog’s sense of smell can find illegal drugs at police traffic stops, in airports or train stations and on drug raids. But how are dogs trained to search for illegal drugs, and why do police use them?
Most drug dogs are bred and trained from birth for a career as drug detection dogs. The most common breeds used for this job are:
- German Shepherds
- Dutch Shepherds
- Belgian Shepherds
These breeds are most often chosen for this job because they have a strong sense of smell and are intelligent and aggressive.
At an early age, drug detection dogs are taught to recognize the smell of specific drugs, usually marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines through playing games, typically tug-of-war, with a trainer. Police teach the dogs to associate the smell of their favorite toys with the smell of various drugs. This training forms the foundation for drug detection dogs’ enthusiasm for finding illegal substances.
In the field, dogs are taught to give an “aggressive” alert signal if they smell illegal drugs, meaning that they dig and paw at the spot where they smell the drugs in an attempt to get at the toy they think they smell. Once they find drugs, their job is over and they get rewarded with a vigorous game of tug-of-war.
Dogs Can Be Life-Saving and Safety Protectors
Dogs don’t just bark and bite. In fact, if you keep your dogs happy and healthy by playing with them at home and walking them outside often, then your dog (or dogs) shouldn’t bark or bite.
If you or someone you love is the victim of a dog bite, then contact the McMinn Law Firm today to get the help you need and the settlement you deserve.