National Rescue Dog Day

National Rescue Dog Day

May 20th is National Rescue Dog Day, a holiday dedicated to the four-legged friends that bring so much joy into our lives!  We would like to recognize all of the rescue dogs that have often had to battle adversity and overcome obstacles, yet are still some of the most loving, comforting, and helpful companions.  Did you know that rescue dogs also make great service dogs?  Canines have the amazing ability to cheer people up and help us with everyday tasks, proving that they are an important part of society.


What Are Service Dogs?

Service dogs help to bring people greater independence and help to provide a positive way to deal with stress, trauma, and grief, all while providing each rescue dog with a second chance at life.  Dogs that are homeless and waiting in shelters get the amazing opportunity to help and serve a companion, while also going to a forever home where they are cared for and loved.

According to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”  There are several different types of service dogs including guide dogs for the blind, mobility-assistance dogs for those who cannot walk, hearing dogs for those who are hearing impaired, seizure response dogs, mental health service dogs, and many more.  Many service dogs are trained to alert their owners when they hear a knock on the door, a baby crying, smoke alarms, a phone ringing, etc,National Rescue Dog Day and to pick up dropped items or retrieve items such as keys, shoes, wallets, etc.  They can also perform functions such as turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, taking off clothes, etc.  Courthouse Facility Dogs work with child victims that are entering the justice system.  These dogs stay with children during interviews and with children on the witness stand to provide comfort, and they can also provide comfort and relief for victims of domestic abuse.  First Responder Facility Dogs travel to school after student fatalities, hospital rooms to help those undergoing medical procedures, and on the scene of accidents.  Rescue dogs can even be trained to rescue us from dangerous situations or help to investigate the cause of a fire.

Service dogs make a significant difference in the lives of disabled people so please be respectful if you see one at work!  It is important to note that service animals are working animals and not pets.  Often service dogs will wear vests that help them stand out and alert others not to pet them.  Service animals are allowed to be in public places that pets are normally not allowed.  A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his or her service animal from a public place unless the dog is behaving poorly and the handler cannot control it, or if the dog is not housebroken.


What Are Emotional Support Dogs?

National Rescue Dog DayEmotional support or mental health animals can help relieve anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in individuals that need help coping with daily struggles.  They can aid people who have autism spectrum disorders among other behavioral disorders.  These animals do not always require any specific training, however, they are much more than just pets.  Your animal may qualify to be an emotional support animal if you have a diagnosed mental or psychiatric disability, and if you meet the criteria for an emotional support animal (ESA) determined by a psychiatrist or licensed/certified mental health professional.  ESAs do not have the same rights as working service dogs, as they are not allowed to go anywhere the public is allowed like service dogs.

The main difference between an emotional support dog and a service dog is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task directly related to a person’s disability.  The tasks must be trained and not a behavior that the dog would instinctively do on his or her own.


How Rescue Dogs are Selected and Trained

Rescue dogs are selected based upon their ability to assist with a specific disability and will work on tasks like retrieving items, bracing (helping someone to stand up), and alerting for specific sounds.  Service dogs can be any size or breed, which is why many organizations like to use rescue dogs.  Rescue dogs are some of the most loving and National Rescue Dog Daycompassionate animals, and training them helps to reduce pet overpopulation in shelters while providing service and therapy to those in need.  Animals are often stressed while in a shelter and will not show their true personality until they are removed from the other animals and chaotic environment.  Once removed, the dogs will undergo temperament testing to make sure that they will be a good fit for a service dog.  That being said, shelter dogs can be considered for the same work or jobs traditionally reserved for purebred dogs.­­


Should Your Dog Be A Service Dog?

You’re not alone if you wish you could bring your animal everywhere with you.  However, wanting and needing your animal to travel everywhere with you are two very different things.  Those who require a service animal cannot do normal daily activities that everyone else can, and too many people are ruining it for the people who actually need service animals.  If you do not have a disability, please do not try to pass your dog off as a service animal and add to the mistrust of service animals.


For more information and feel-good stories about rescue service dogs, check out Why Rescue Dogs Make The Best Service Dogs Of All and Homeless Dogs Get A Second Chance As Service Dogs.