Letter: Editorial Kudos

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I would like to thank you for the well-written editorial “Doggy Deception” in the Feb. 13 issue. Genuine service dogs are a necessity and a blessing for those with disabilities. Calling your pet a ‘service dog’ so that you can take him anywhere is not only illegal but rude, selfish and inconsiderate for those with disabilities who rely on service dogs for an improved life.

I owned several dogs who were trained and shown in breed, obedience and agility. I never took them with me into a store, restaurant or any place that was not appropriate. If I went out to shop, eat out, etc., they stayed home.

I currently volunteer for a local service dog organization that breeds, raises and trains genuine service dogs. It takes about 2 to 2½ years and costs approximately $50,000 to raise and train one of these dogs. Many hours of hard work by volunteers go into raising a puppy who then will go on to complete further training as a service dog. And the recipients are never charged a penny for these animals. The costs are covered by donations, sponsorships and fundraisers.

Genuine service dogs focus on what their handler needs. They don’t bark or carry on when they are working. They certainly don’t sit on furniture and eat off a table in a restaurant. And they should never be distracted by people who ‘just want to pet the dog’! Yes, when the harness or jacket comes off at home they do act like regular dogs. But then they are ‘off duty’ and playtime is encouraged.

There are three nonprofit service dog organizations here on Long Island that do a wonderful job of raising and training these animals—Guide Dog Foundation (GDF) and their sister organization America’s VetDogs in Smithtown and Canine Companions for Independence in Medford. None of the recipients are ever charged for their service dogs received from one of these organizations. To see a handler receive a dog that will change their life is amazing. At a recent celebration at GDF I saw two young women who will be able to attend college because they now have a guide dog. At a VetDogs celebration I met several veterans whose lives are changed because their dogs enable them to go out into the community and do everyday things that the rest of us take for granted.

The proliferation of ‘fake service dogs’ just makes the everyday lives of these folks more difficult. Not to mention the folks who are ‘faking a disability’ to be allowed to take “Pookie-poo” everywhere.

—Nancy Gessner


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