In honor of National Service Dog Month this September we spoke with Domesti-PUPS, a Nebraska-based service dog organization, about their work with our furry friends and the disability community.
What is Domesti-PUPS’ primary mission?
Our mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with special needs through the
assistance of animals, and to promote awareness through education.
What are some examples of the ways your organization supports the disability community?
We provide therapy dogs, emotional support animals and service dogs for persons with disabilities. Our service dogs are trained for mobility/balance/walking, wheelchair assist, seizure response and diabetic alert.
How can others get involved in your initiatives?
By donating time, talents or monies! We are always looking for puppy raisers, too!
What are some things people might not know about service dogs?
Most people are unaware of the differences between emotional support animals and service dogs. An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats, but may include other animals. To qualify for an emotional support animal, a person needs to have a mental or emotional disability, and been provided a letter stating the need for the animal by a physician or treatment provider.
Under Federal Laws, emotional support animals are allowed in traditionally non-pet housing and on flights. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals, and thus are not allowed in public places. Because ESAs do not go in public places, they do not require any training. Thus, you can adopt a pet at your local shelter or rescue. Or, if you would like a dog, that has been obedience trained, you can go through the Domesti-PUPS program.
Service dogs are task-trained to mitigate a person's disability, and that is the difference—emotional support animals provide comfort, whereas service dogs are trained to perform a specific task to help the person with their disability.
Any uplifting stories you’d like to share about helping connect members of the community with service dogs?
Several years ago, a young man in high school traveled from the East Coast to Nebraska to talk about getting a service dog. When he left the discussion, he told his father that the Domesti-PUPS staff were the only people who had ever made him feel like his disability was 'normal.' He's since gone off to college and is leading an independent life.
For more information about Domesti-PUPS, visit http://www.domesti-pups.org/. If you have any questions about using your Enable Savings Plan to purchase a service dog, reach out to us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-844-ENABLE4.