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Spotlight on Assistance Dogs

August 1, 2021

International Assistance Dog Week begins today, August 1st. The 4th is also International Assistance Dog Day. Our canine companions really are amazing animals! Fido’s devotion, intelligence, and hard work are special gifts, ones that allow him to help people with disabilities or medical challenges live independently. A local vet discusses assistance dogs in this article.

A Helping Paw

Assistance Dog Week is definitely something we’re happy to help spread awareness about. The purpose is to honor all of those hard-working, devoted pups that help their humans live their best lives. However, there’s more to it than just giving Fido a well-deserved pat on the head. It’s also about raising awareness about assistance dogs. Of course, the people who train and place assistance dogs also deserve recognition.

What Is An Assistance Dog?

People often get assistance dogs mixed up with therapy dogs. These pooches do have a few things in common. For one thing, they all help their humans live full, fulfilling lives. They’re also adorable! That said, there are some clear distinctions between the two. Assistance dogs–which are also sometimes called service dogs–have been trained to perform specific tasks or functions. They are protected by law, and are allowed to go anywhere their humans go. There are only a few exceptions, such as hospitals. Therapy dogs have been trained to help people cope with sadness, grief, trauma, or anxiety.


One example of an assistance dog would be a Seeing Eye Dog, who helps guide a blind owner around. Fido may also be trained to detect oncoming seizures or drops in blood sugar for diabetics, and act accordingly.


Dogs must meet some specific requirements before being classified as an assistance dog. Fido’s owner must be disabled according to law. He must be trained to help his human overcome or mitigate their specific disability in some way. An assistance dog must also have proven himself to be a Good Boy in public, and he must act properly and well-behaved at all times. You don’t want an assistance dog running after a squirrel instead of helping someone cross a street! They must also be in good health and kept up to proper hygiene standards.

Meeting Fido

In most places, it’s now a felony to harm or interfere with an assistance dog in any way. It may not be illegal to pet them, but it’s at best inconsiderate. You should never touch or interact with an assistance dog without express permission from the owner. After all, Fido is working like a dog, and needs to focus!

As your local veterinary clinic, we’re here to help! Contact us, your local animal clinic in Newburgh, NY!