Every month seems to be dedicated to some cause, and this is for good reason! Celebrating communities, issues, passions, and nonprofits during an entire month is an amazing way to commit to a cause.
National Service Dog Month is simply another way to honor another great cause: Service Dogs! September is a month dedicated to service animals and their diverse community. In this post, you’ll learn about National Service Dog Month and how you can help raise awareness.
What is a Service Animal?
If you read New Life K9s blog, you most likely already know what a service animal is, but for those who don’t, a service animal is an animal that is specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for a handler with a disability. These animals are highly trained and are meant to mitigate the symptoms of a specific disability. For example, a service animal can be trained to interrupt a night terror for a handler suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The dog is trained to recognize when a night terror is happening and will nudge or lick their handler awake. This is a specific task used for a specific disability, in this case, PTSD. This training can be specific to many disabilities including both physical and mental ones. It is also important to know that service animals are not the same as therapy dogs or emotional support animals (ESAs). These animals, unlike service animals, do not have any specific training to do work and tasks, and are not recognized by the Americans with DIsabilities Act (ADA) as service animals.
What is National Service Dog Month?
As you might have already ascertained, National Service Dog Month is a time to honor all that is service animals. From their emotional support, to their service dog duties; from their companionship to their ability to transform lives; service animals serve a critical role in their handlers’ lives. No wonder there’s an entire month set aside for them! National Service Dog Month is observed every September and is meant to be a recognition and appreciation for service animals.
Where Did National Service Dog Come From?
Throughout time, people have suffered from disabilities that sometimes hinder their quality of life. But thanks to service animals, their lives can be greatly improved not just in the way of a constant companion, but also for greater independence. We have been able to see how these amazing animals can help people with all sorts of medical conditions including, diabetes, mobility assistance, seizures, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more. One man, Dick Van Patten, an actor, recognized the importance and remarkable work efforts of service animals. Because of his awe with these furry, dependable and hardworking companions, he decided they needed to be recognized for their many abilities. So, in 2008, Patten formed National Service Dog Month and started fundraising to help support service animals’ training and care. And the rest is history.
How Can You Spread Awareness?
There are a lot of things to do to honor National Service Dog Month! You can educate yourself on service animals and their handlers. This is imperative because the more educated people are about service animals, the better we can understand and get along with them if we meet in public. You should know in which ways service animals help people, the most basic service animal laws, how to treat service animals while they are on duty, and how to respect their handlers.
Education is important because it is easy for the public to make assumptions and even pass judgements. For example, the public might not “see” a disability and assume someone is somehow faking. This is far from the truth as many handlers are suffering from unseen disabilities such as PTSD, seizures, or diabetes. Not all people who have service animals have “seen” disabilities such as with mobility assistance. This is why it is important to read and learn about the service animal community to move beyond judgements and stigmas. Other ways you can honor service animals is donating or volunteering at a nonprofit that provides service animals, of course, there are a plethora of nonprofits to choose from.
If you are at all interested in donating or volunteering for New Life K9s, please visit our How to Help page for more info. We have several opportunities to give back, including volunteering, giving, or even contributing to our Amazon wish list. Choose a nonprofit you care about and give in a way that works best for you.
We hope you learned something about service animals and the importance of their role in handlers’ lives. Take this month to learn and appreciate what man’s best friend can truly achieve and if you're so inclined, find a way to give back whether with your time or donation. Happy National Service Dog Month! Remember, for more service dog and dog content, sign up to get New Life K9s blog straight to your inbox.