December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and this time we want to tell you about service dogs. Service dogs provide for an independent life and integration in the society for the disabled.
Service dogs are divided into two groups: dog-guide helps people with visual impairments, but dog-assistant – people with reduced mobility, people with diabetes, epilepsy, post traumatic syndrome, autism spectrum disorders and deaf people.
Service dog and his service gives people emotional comfort and support, increases mobility, gives feeling of safety and stability. Thus, we are not afraid to say:”A service dog provides for a dignified life”.
Examples of best practice illustrate the importance of a service dog in helping people with disabilities to integrate into society and live a full life with a help of a service dog. A service dog provides for not only physical, buy also emotional support, helping to reduce the line between people with and without disabilities due to social environment and emotional unavailability. Independence is just one of the benefits, integration in the society- the second, job opportunities – the third.
Service Dog Association Teodors unites almost all service dog keepers in Latvia, organizes relevant training and annual service dog attestation, in accordance with the international standards, set by the International Guide Dog Federation, the European Guide Dog Federation and the Assistance Dogs International Europe.
The quality standard and indicator of a service dog is enclosed in the training program. International standards are a prerequisite for successful, high-quality and professional training of dogs, which includes understanding and knowledge transfer about a person with disability, including visual, hearing and movement disorders, needs, psychological and physical conditions. The amount of knowledge is significant and important for the integration of a person with disability who has been assigned a service dog into society.
Quality standard of the international organization of service dogs: compliance test for a puppy (at 2 months of age); socialization (1 year in a foster family); professional training (1 – 1,5 years); examination and annual attestation, test of working abilities and professional development.
The evaluated statistics show that 100 dogs-guides and 50 dogs-assistants would be needed in Latvia. Currently 25 people with disabilities are waiting in line for a service dog.
Acquisition of service dogs and coverage of related expenses are based on peer gifts, donations and volunteer work in Latvia. Here, the provision with service dogs for people with disabilities is not financed or financially supported from the state budget. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are usually unable to cover these costs themselves, but proper care of the dog is essential, so the dog can provide its assistance as well and as long as possible.
Possible support through www.ziedot.lv project “Dog – more than a friend” or www.teodors.org
Information prepared by the press service of Teodors – he Service Dog Association