Service dogs in Chula Vista are amazing. They have been extensively trained, live strict but loved lives, and take care of their owners like truly no one else can. The dogs’ abilities to detect seizures, pick up dropped items, and even warn owners of impending stroke or heart attack make these dogs literally life savers.
With all the amazing things these animals can do, it’s no wonder we have learned to accept them in places we usually wouldn’t, like a restaurant or the office. But there is a growing cynicism towards service and support animals in general, and mostly because of misunderstanding, and I’ll admit that I used to be one of these people.
I was not raised in a house with pets, and I never could understand the “emotional support animal“. I could understand a seeing eye dog or a dog that assists with the hearing impaired, but these are obvious needs that a dog could help with. When I would see articles about an emotional support pig or bunny, I would roll my eyes.
The Best emotional support animals in Chula Vista
Responsible In The Driver's Seat
Hunter took the driver's seat to get an important message out to all drivers: "START SEEING SERVICE DOGS!"
Parking lots and cross walks can be such dangerous places for Hunter and he has had some close calls because of drivers not being careful when they see him or not even seeing him all. Now that is disturbing to Hunter. One of his family members has to travel by wheelchair and Hunter takes her safety seriously. He does not understand why anyone would not slow down when they see a wheelchair in a crosswalk. He is there wearing his red vest to help alert drivers to slow down or stop. Stopping and waiting is the right thing to do.
- He wants you to see his vest.
- He wants you to see him.
- He wants his family to be safe.
- He wants you to take his message seriously.
You can see an illustrated parking lot tutorial below.
Also, find out what the law is for your own sake and other's.
A Springer Spaniel Dog Breed
I had a by chance meeting with Hunter and his spokesperson one day. We visited for quite some time and I was allowed to take some pictures of Hunter, and he was a working dog while we were talking. This led to some arranged meetings and stories for me to tell.
The black and white Springer Spaniel was listening to what was being said. His spokesperson, Bob, emphasized again and again that the word needs to get out for drivers to "Start Seeing Service Dogs". I said that I would do what I can to help get that important message out.
Then, Hunter jumped into his spokesperson's truck, but he did not take the passenger seat that he usually does. He crossed over to the driver's seat and quietly waited for me to notice that I had an important picture to take of him.
A Felony Offense
Hunter's spokesperson told me that it is a felony offense if a driver does not stop for a Service Dog wearing their vest. It could also be a matter of life and death or serious injury to Hunter and a family member. Hunter would not flee from a dangerous situation to save himself, he takes his job seriously. Please take his message seriously and pass it on.
A Matter of Life and Death
You see, when Hunter is in uniform, he is working to help and protect his beloved family. He is doing the job he is trained for.
If you see Hunter in public, he does not have time to socialize with you and you should never ever try to distract him from his duties. It may be a matter of being able to alert his family members to the danger that is on the line, it could be a matter of life and death.
Here you can see Hunter continuing to cross the parking lot as the ambulance is on the move and heading toward him and his people. The Service Dog's vest is plainly visibleHere you can see Hunter continuing to cross the parking lot as the ambulance is on the move and heading toward him and his people. The Service Dog's vest is plainly visible
Cell Phones Distract Drivers
Hunter hopes this message will help everyone know what to do when they see him or other Service Dogs crossing in a parking lot. On this day, there was another close call when a driver using a cell phone did not even seem to notice Hunter and the people he serves as they were about to do some shopping.
Hunter has served his lady, Linda for six years and now also serves his spokesperson, Bob. He wants to keep them safe and is asking for your help. That saying, “a picture paints a thousand words”, works here.
Hunter is thrilled to be able to present pictures of what drivers are expected to do when they see him working. His most important message to all drivers is: "Start Seeing Service Dogs"
Do Not Break The Law
You can tell why this message is the most important one that Hunter wants everyone to know. He loves the people that he assists and cares about you. Yes, this Spaniel likes everyone and does not want anyone to break the law, or put people with disabilities in harms way.
Another Important Message
Hunter has an important message he wants me to tell you about.
Don't Pet Rule
He understands how important this message is.
Some Things Are Worth Repeating
I decided to be a voice for Hunter and the people he serves because I feel it is important for this message to be heard by motorists. All too often this service dog has almost gotten hit by a vehicle while on duty.
Parking lots outside of shopping centers are a dangerous place for these guide dogs and their people. Why? Because people are not paying close enough attention to their surroundings while driving. Texting and talking on cell phones is the biggest distraction that Bob and Linda see while in the line of fire.
Hunter Helps with Hearing Loss
Hunter is very social and very polite, though much less formal at home. I was so pleased when he would come and sit by me and lean a little against my leg. It didn’t take long for him to train me into the fact that he preferred that I pet him on the back of his neck to the middle of his back. Once he even sat on my foot to be closer, my smile got bigger! When I sat on the floor, Hunter came along side and I found myself putting an arm around him. Awesome!
Hunter has full run of the house and is completely trusted by Bob and Linda. Bob has raised many Springer Spaniels over the years, he says Hunter stands out above others he has known. Hunter began looking after Linda on his own at the age of two and is now seven and has taken on the additional duty of serving Bob because of hearing loss.
Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Guide Dogs
Hunter is looking you right in the eye for some straight talk because he would like to have a heart to heart conversation with you.
Hunter is pleading for your help to spread the word about an alarming issue.
Today, Hunter wants to inform the public about a growing problem that is a big concern for all properly trained and registered Service Dogs, and their owners. They do not want to offend anyone or hurt anyone's feelings, but this is an important topic that must be shared. Hunter has actually heard about and seen with his very own brown eyes, dogs who are wearing a Service Dog vest that they have not earned with training or authentic registration. Hunter is shocked when he sees these fake Service Dogs that lack animal training are acting inappropriately in public. He knows at a glance that those dogs are not qualified to wear a real Service Dog vest. He does not blame the dogs, but he would like to speak directly to the people in charge of their pets.
Hunter is aware that it is not the dogs that are responsible for this counterfeit activity. It is the owners who have found a way to bring their pets into places that they would not be allowed otherwise. It seems that if there is anything legitimate, there is an illegitimate copy that can be found. Just like people who sometimes find a way to get fake I.D's for themselves, some are getting fake I.D.'s that look real for their dogs. Pet owners also are able to purchase "Service Dog" vests, which is not against the law. However, Hunter wants you to know it is very wrong to do.
You have already seen a photo of Hunter's vest, that he only wears when on duty in public. I am including a picture of his Service Dog Registration Of America I.D., which is attached to his vest at all times. Hunter's spokesperson and "Handler", Bob, wants to remain anonymous, so I removed his name. Bob wants all the attention to go to Hunter's message. Other legitimate Service Dogs may have certification from other registries.
Hunter understands that many people love their dogs and want to keep them with them whenever possible. He knows what it is to be loved like that. He also knows that it takes some particular character traits and training to be a real Service Dog. Hunter has earned the right to go where other dogs should not go, and he is true to the assistance animal's code of ethics.
I made mention that Hunter has eyeballed dogs with wannabe Service Dog vests on that display inappropriate behaviors which make them totally unsuitable for real dog assistance duties in the public. They can be insufferably annoying, because of their lack of obedience training at best or dogs PTSD. They may be doing regular dog stuff like sniffing people, jumping on people, barking or just being silly. They may be doing things that are of greater concern, such as running about, threatening with a growl or other behaviors, biting or even urinating on the floor of a business. They may create safety issues that put the public at risk. A well-trained guide dog would never do those things while on duty. A Service Dog "Handler" is responsible for keeping their dog focused and would not think of allowing their dog to be disruptive in any way. There are times when Hunter does bark, but it is for specific reasons to keep the people he serves safe.
These pretenders are making it more difficult for Hunter and other legitimate Service Dogs. Please, listen to Hunter when he says:
"Please Don't Make Your Dog Pretend To Be A Service Dog!"
He Is A Dog
Hunter the Service Dog likes to play in the snow when he and Bob go outside for chores. Hunter keeps an eye on Bob intermittently while taking time for himself to enjoy a little cool down in the snow. I watched and smiled as he would repeatedly stick his head in the snow with his rump up in the air. He was just so cute and it was plain to see that he was most definitely enjoying himself.
When this handsome hound goes to town in the winter, he often wears boots to protect his feet from the salt and other chemicals used on roads and parking lots. But, at home, Hunter prefers to go barefoot in the snow.
On a personal note, Hunter is one of those rare dogs that just naturally has chosen to “go” in the woods for his private duties. He is, however, still a dog and I noticed he did mark my tires. That made me smile too.
Hunter is trusted to have the run of the yard and lives in harmony with the birds, squirrels and even a deer that stopped by the yard. He sees everyone, but its Bob that he focuses on. It is easy to see that these guys are buddies and have a wonderful friendship, as well as a great working relationship.
Hunter Is Family
Once inside again, Hunter made his way quickly to Linda to make sure all was well with her.
Every greeting seems like its the first one of the day in this harmonious household.
It is a joy to visit this little family.
I am honored to have the opportunity to be a voice for Hunter, who has some serious things to talk about. He is living out his calling in life as a Service Dog, that he volunteered himself for, he is a natural. When he stepped up for the job, Bob and Linda decided to have Hunter become official. When that vest is on, this dog is on duty at full alert.
It is interesting that dogs know when there is going to be bad weather that could be dangerous, and Hunter is one of those furry friends that knows instinctively, and will warn his people before hand. They have learned to take his warning seriously. Hunter may have saved lives at a campground one summer. No storm was forecast, but out of nowhere a terrible storm came with strong winds and destroyed to campground knocking down most of the trees. The campers had been evacuated because of one smart dog.
The fight to have laws passed for people with special needs to be able to bring their service animals into public places with them was long. People's unruliness and unlawful behavior of bringing their pets places with them into public places should not be accepted, because they could potentially ruin it for people who by law have that privilege.
Linda has been having health problems that have either landed her in the hospital or in a nursing home. Bob and Hunter go to visit her everyday. When visiting the nursing home, Hunter does not wear his vest because the people who live there want to pet him. Hunter is trained to not allow himself to be petted while wearing the vest. So! He is being of service to many as a comfort dog or therapy dog.
Emotional Support Animals
How Should You Act Around a Service Dog?
How should you act around a service dog?
A person's natural instinct is to pet and play with dogs.
Unfortunately, we must all respect the vest or cape of the service dog and ignore the dog as much as possible. That means not petting it, touching it, distracting it, talking to it, teasing it, or especially feeding it.
So, how should you act? Really the best way and only recommended way is by totally ignoring the dog the same way you would politely ignore a wheelchair or cane.
A service dog that is not ignored may become "ruined" and unusable by its owner, and given that service dogs are both very hard to find for specific conditions and extremely expensive (typically averaging $15,000 each) this can be devastating for the dog's owner.
By violating this etiquette, you have also just helped contribute to the person's loss of freedom and possibly made it necessary for the owner to give up the dog, which would be heartbreaking, and for the person to require the use of a Personal Care Attendant (PCA)—another person shadowing them all the time—to provide some of the services that the dog used to perform.
Service Dog Basics for the Public
Do you have a hard time working around a service dog?
It's very hard for some people to be around service dogs and service dogs in-training because a person's natural instinct is to pet and play with dogs, especially the healthy well-kept dogs who work as service dogs.
Unfortunately, we must all respect the vest or cape of the service dog and ignore the dog as much as possible rather than petting it, touching it, distracting it, talking to it or teasing it, or even looking at it.
When the cape/vest is on, the dog is working
After all, whenever the cape is on, the dog is working hard, whether it looks like it to you or not.
Among other things, the dog is working very hard to ignore you and the tiny morsel of food on the floor over there that looks tasty.
The dog is also focused on its handler, remaining alert for any commands, scents, or hand signals for action.
It falls asleep all the time. How is that "working"?
Most service dogs are trained to catch a nap whenever possible during the day to give them the energy they need when their work is most actively needed.
Napping at strategic times, such as lunchtime and meetings, is a type of work essential for them to do their service dog work; the dog is not in any way "falling asleep on the job" in a negative sense.
So, how should you act?
Really the best way is by ignoring the dog the same way you would politely ignore a wheelchair or cane.
The service dog and its handler try to minimize the distraction the dog provides to the public, but the public needs to learn and obey manners with respect to the dog and the disabled person (or dog trainer) also.
Remember that it's not polite to stare, point, or talk about people.
One thing you should never do
It's very impolite to ask why someone uses a service dog because their disability is private health information.
Benefits of service dogs
Service dogs can be of great benefit to people with all sorts of disabilities, including invisible disabilities like diabetes, asthma, vertigo, and psychiatric disabilities.
Don't assume that a person who "looks good" and is with a service dog isn't disabled just because the disability isn't obvious to you.
Bonus: Service dogs are also a calming, friendly presence around the office or place or business.
Remember, if a service dog's vest is on they are working.
Service dogs are NOT pets, by law, and interfering with a service dog team is actually a crime in most states.
The same manners that apply to a wheelchair apply to a service dog: that's the easiest way to remember what's right or wrong most of the time.
How to Act Around a Service Dog: Etiquette for Everyone
Sadly, some people are asking whether "service animal" laws are being abused by those who want to scam the system.
There have been news stories, articles, opinion pieces and other editorials where people rant and complain about people they believe to be abusing the system. You hear some complain that they had to sit near a dog at a restaurant that they don't believe is a "real" service dog, or others complain that their neighbors have a pet in a "no pet" building because they claimed the animal is an emotional support animal.
Some of the commentary has an indignant tone, and some people are downright angry.
How does this affect those who legitimately own and use a service animal to better their lives? In many ways.
For one, it can it more difficult to navigate bureaucracy of the world when your claim of a disability and your service or emotional support animal's status is questioned. If a landlord or business owner has heard negative stories claiming that some people are abusing the system, it can cause them to look suspiciously at all claimants.
But that percentage of abuse, which in the area of service animal laws is hopefully small, is arguably a very small price to pay when compared to the higher goal of promoting access and equality for all.
In the end, you cannot control any system to make it 100% abuse proof. So tolerating the few people who scam service animal laws is the price we gladly pay to ensure that the disabled in the great state of California have equal access under law.
The (Common) Sense Pet Professionals