“Fake service dogs” causing real problem in the Midlands

COLUMBIA,SC (WOLO)- Seeing dogs out in public places is pretty common,especially when it comes to service dogs. However a midlands non-profit says people claiming their dogs are service animals to get into places.

“It makes it harder for people who have legitimate service dogs to be accepted in public when they really need that help to get back out there,” Jennifer Rogers, PAALS Founder said.

It’s an unfortunate trend that seems a birt far fetched, people portraying their pet dogs as service animals.

“Sometimes it’s bad for the pet dog too if they have not been raised and trained to tolerate the stresses that go on in our public environments, it could be unfair to everybody involved,” Rogers said.

Roger says she’s constantly dealing with this issue.

“This is something that has become common unfortunately, some of our assistance dog teams are being attacked by dogs that aren’t trained well or who are aggressive with other dogs,” Rogers said.

That’s why during International Assistance Dog week, PAALS is bringing awareness to this problem.

“We want to tell people that although you may love your dog and want to bring them everywhere, it’s really bad for people who actually have disabilities to pretend that you have a disability by bringing your pet dog somewhere,” Rogers said.

Especially since the training for service fdogs are extensive.

“When they’re in school here with PAALS, they start literally at Pre-K and get all the way to college graduation,” Rogers said. “We really know what they love to do, what they’re really good at doing and what they’re not really good at too. Some of them have told me that they weren’t able to work before they were able to get their dog, they weren’t able to be an active part of our community before they got their service dog, so those are big life changing things where these dogs will really enable them to get back out there and do all of the things that all of us want to do.”

Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services not only trains and partners service dogs with those who can benefit from an assistance dog but also provides animal assisted interventions throughout the community. In honor of International Assistance Dog Week, PAALS is celebrating with a week of activities that throughout SC.

International Assistance Dog Week was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs that help individuals mitigate their disability related limitations. In addition to honoring assistance dogs during their special week, one of the goals is to raise awareness about these very special and highly trained animals. This year International Assistance Dog Week is August 5-11 and PAALS is branching out around South Carolina to spread the word.

On Tuesday, August 7th, PAALS will have an information booth at the Charleston RiverDogs game at 7pm. The same night in Columbia PAALS will be at the National Night Out located in the Woodlands Country Club in Northeast Columbia from 6:30pm-8:00pm. PAALS will be speaking to the Spring Valley Rotary Club at 1:00 on August. 9th. The week will culminate with “Winston” a service dog in training appearing on WISTV’s morning show!

PAALS hopes everyone in our area will pause a moment during this week to learn more about PAALS’ service dogs and recognize the selfless love and devotion these and all service dogs provide. PAALS will be offering tours of their training facility to the public Tuesday and Thursday at 2PM during this special week of celebration.

Assistance dogs transforms the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their devoted companions, helpers, best friends and close members of their families. Assistance dogs include Guide Dogs, Service Dogs, Hearing Alert Dogs, Seizure Alert/Response Dogs and Medical Alert/Response Dogs.

More information about International Assistance Dog week can be found at www.assistancedogweek.org and more information about PAALS can be found at www.paals.org.

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