Service animals: the importance of a companion

Kathryn Scott

Managing Editor

Service animals on campus are just one way that Pierce College helps any student succeed. Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which gives owners protection against discrimination based on a disability. Because of this act, students aren’t required to register their service animals on campus. The office of access and disability simply asks two questions: is the animal there to help with a disability?And, if yes, then what tasks or services does the animal provide?

“We have students that come to school, and they participate just like their non-disabled peers. Their dogs allow them to do that,” says District Director of Access and Disability Services Hope Stout.

Stoutsaysit’s come up before when certain students can’t work with or inhabit the same area as service animals. When these issues arise, the ADS work with the students and the students with the service animal to try to rearrange or organize ways around the concerns. Air purifiers are used, as is the tactic of simply trying to keep individuals and animals separated.

Service animals help their owners in a number of ways, such as providing balance, picking things up and even surveying rooms for triggers prior to their owners entering. Triggers may include certain sounds or smells. While dogs are typically the most common, miniature horses are also considered as service animals in the state of Washington.

According to U.S Service Animals, miniature horse service animals should stand between 24- and 34- inches tall and weigh around 70-100 pounds. Student Sabrina Retterer benefits from her 4-year-old Goldendoodle Bessie in more ways than just physical. According to Retterer, Bessie brings her happiness, a sense of security, companionship and comfort.

She lessens her stress and anxiety and is trained to do certain tasks. Bessie and Retterte have been together every day since Bessie’s puppyhood age of 8-weeks. She served as Retterer’s Ski Patrol dog prior to the two moving here and was named after the first African-American female pilot in the U.S, Bessie Coleman. Service animals are working animals and permission from the owner should always be given before distracting them with petting and funny talking.

They’re different than emotional support animals because service animals are specially trained to perform certain tasks and recognize special things. Emotional support animals are more of companions and without paperwork, don’t have the same privileges as service animals. Stout wants to continue raising awareness for the importance of service animals and how to properly handle their presence.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Kathryn Scott

Service animals: the importance of a companion

by Kathryn Scott time to read: 2 min