When an individual has a life-threatening disability like diabetes, getting caught up in the day and forgetting to test their blood-sugar level could be an easy mistake to make, and a dangerous one. Luckily for approximately 500,000 Americans, they have service animals to make sure that living with a disability doesn't have to mean they can't live their full life. This week marks National Pet Week, and we'd like to focus on the caretakers who do everything from helping those with visual impairments navigate unfamiliar territories to identifying on-coming seizures and seeking help when one can't be avoided, and so much more.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was the first legislation to formalize the rights of those with disabilities using service animals to help navigate their day, initially opening the field to an assortment of animals but later confining the definition to dogs and in some situations miniature horses.
From there they have become a mainstay of thousands of lives both in private and public. Sully, George H. W. Bush's service dog, was assigned to assist Bush in the summer of 2018. Trained to perform a two-page list of commands ranging from answering phones to seeking help in an emergency, Sully became a beloved member of the family. Sully's trainer remembers handing the service dog to the President, Bush Sr. simply saying, "Welcome home."
He captured the nation's heart in the wake of the President's death later that year when Sully's Instagram posted a picture of Sully laying in front of Bush Sr's casket, captioned "Mission Accomplished," the post gathering over 230,000 likes in two days. Sully isn't looking forward to retirement just yet though. His trainer has confirmed that Sully's next mission will be comforting wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Center.
While most service animals serve out of the limelight, one thing is to be certain, they're among the most loved and devoted members of our society. To learn more about service animals visit the Americans with Disabilities Act website at www.ADA.gov or call 800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY) to speak with a certified ADA Specialist.