WARREN, PA (WNY News Now) — A service animal has a multitude of uses, from helping someone navigate public spaces to providing emotional support. However, some locals are having issues with others interacting with their animals.
The staff at New Hope Assistance Dogs understands the importance of keeping service animals, and their handlers, safe.
“We train service dogs to help individuals lead a more productive, independent life with the help of their assistance obviously,” said President of New Hope Assistance Dogs Tammy Rogers.
These dogs are considered to be medical equipment, trained to detect an abundance of disorders and attacks ranging from anxiety to seizure disorders.
“I was diagnosed with CPTSD and it has caused a seizure disorder, so Atlas alerts me for multiple things, if my heart rate is spiking or if I’m about to have an attack,” said a New Hope service dog recipient Alexis Macri.
“I also have a service dog, Lucy, she is helping me with anxiety and PTSD. We are still working on the alert for the PTSD but it is basically the same. She will alert me before I have any attacks,” said recipient Karen Garcia.
Each dog is trained to do a specific task, however, sometimes they are not always respected by the public.
“Don’t distract them, like you’re saying, don’t look at them, don’t distract them, don’t whistle at them,” said Rogers.
Distracting a service dog can be dangerous, as not all disabilities are visible.
“Leo helps me, he alerts me when my blood sugars are high and low, he comforts me when I have panic and anxiety, he wakes me when I have night terrors,” explained recipient Christian Boltz.
In the end, it is best to completely ignore a working dog so as to not distract them from the task they are doing for their handler.
Karen, and her service dog Lucy, have teamed up with New Hope Assistance Dogs to collect 100 bags of shoe donations to cover the cost of training. So far, they have collected 33. For more information, you can visit the New Hope Assistance Dogs’ Facebook page.