Service dogs separate themselves from the rest of the pack. They have unlimited public access and are trained to perform various tasks for their owner unlike therapy and emotional support dogs.
Service dogs are often used buy blind, deaf and people living with both mental and other physical disabilities. People like Kimberly Lovetro, who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after enduring over 10 surgeries and having a leg amputated heavily rely on their service dogs.
"“Just the whole aspect of being alone trying to do stuff, sometimes when I’m home alone and drop something I can’t necessarily bend over to pick it up... I would not leave the house without her most days alone," Lovetro said. “If somebody walks towards me she kinda stands in front of me and blocks me from people real getting too close to me. That’s one of the big things with my PTSD is I don’t like people right up in front of me.”
Her dog, Leia, an Australian Kelpie, is fully trained after just over two years of work with her certified service dog trainer, Rebecca Klinger. Leia can retrieve, open doors, block for her owner in busy areas and even calm her down.
“Service dogs give people independence to people who otherwise would have to stay inside," Klinger said. “You can’t force that on the dog, they either have it or they don’t.”
An incident on Labor Day at Duff's Famous Wings in Orchard Park has sparked public discussion on social media. A veteran was given a hard time when he entered the restaurant with his service dog and decided to avoid the hassle and leave the premises altogether.
The owner has since apologized and blamed himself for not being knowledgeable of the subject. He admitted he was quick to infer that the dog wasn't a service dog and thinking the case was just another pet owner bringing their dog into a restaurant.
Click here for information on service dogs in the public.