Service Dogs Can Improve Life with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Service dogs can’t be turned away from public businesses, restaurants and parks.  Those with disabilities, including EDS, need their companions for assistance in public and at home. 

By Elia Madrid-Onofre |

Elia“I walked into the grocery store with my roommate about three months ago. We were minding our own business, and before we could make it fully into the store, an employee stopped us and told us we couldn’t go in any further because we had a pet with us. We didn’t have a pet with us. We had my roommate’s service dog who, by law, cannot be denied accompaniment to their companion.

The dog had her vest on, which includes patches saying ‘Service Dog’ and ‘Stop: Do not distract.’ Regardless, we weren’t leaving without it being known that the law protected my roommate and his service dog, Maggie, from being turned away from a public place.

Service dogs are trained to help those with disabilities such as blindness, deafness, diabetes and any sort of mobility deficiencies. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that you cannot ask a person with a service dog what their disability is, but only what the dog is trained for and if they are a certified service dog. A person’s condition is private unless they are voluntarily willing to say what their disability is. Also, the person’s service dog is not to be denied access to any location, as long as it is public, and with no question of why the canine is accompanying them. This has caused fraudulent service dogs to come about. A service dog vest can be purchased easily online and put on any dog. However, the disabled can notice these things and are offended by the fact that they use a disability as an excuse to bring their pets into public, when they wish they weren’t even disabled themselves. It surprises me how many people in Arlington seem to be unaware of the existence of service animals.

During the Fourth of July, my roommate and his fiancée went out to let his dog use the bathroom, and some people nearby were intoxicated and messing around with fireworks. Little did we know, Maggie was terrified of the noise of fireworks and explosives. One person let one off and Maggie bolted away down the street. Had his fiancée not gone out there with him, who knows what would have happened? My roommate isn’t supposed to run, so how could he catch Maggie on his own? That night ended in the people getting arrested. Thankfully, the situation was taken care of quickly because of the recognition that a disabled person was in potential danger during the situation

In a nation with more than 55,000 people living with a disability, including myself as a Type 1 diabetes patient, it should be known that there are many things out there to help those that are disabled, that help us try to live as normal and painless a life as possible. Maggie, my roommate’s service dog, has been trained to deal with mobility and balance because of my roommate’s Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and permanent back injury. Maggie helps by supporting him when he tries to stand up or if he gets worn out walking. If you take that kind of assistance from any disabled person for an invalid reason, you might as well hand over a finger or eyeball just for agreeing to do so.”

Service dogs are not only for those who are blind, but they can help with many mobility challenges, including EDS.

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