A great poster to remind children when to wash their hands!Â
Dining out and visiting coffee shops form a pleasurable part of most people’s lives. This simple pleasure, however, is less accessible to people with disabilities.
Individuals with impaired vision, epilepsy, autism, social anxiety disorder or physical disabilities often struggle to get around independently and safely. Going to a mall or visiting a restaurant could pose major challenges to someone in a wheelchair or someone with no sight.
Fortunately, new insights into dogs and dog training have made it possible to pair up individuals with disabilities or other problems with service dogs. These dogs not only provide these individuals with valuable companionship, they also enable them to move about more freely, safely and independently.
Guide dogs can enable blind people to get from point A to point B safely, so that they can perform chores and errands – such as grocery shopping – on their own. Seizure-alert dogs can give individuals with epilepsy several hours’ advance warning of a seizure, enabling them to go about their business safely. Similarly, service dogs can help people in wheel chairs to navigate their way through doors or to get items off the shelf at a grocery store. The list as to what assistance dogs can do for people who do not have the full use of all their senses or limbs is endless. And yet, despite this, guide dogs and service dogs are very often refused entry into shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops.
It is time for shop and restaurant owners to begin to understand that refusing an individual with a service dog or guide dog entry into an establishment is to rob them of their independence and freedom. Some justify it by saying that allowing dogs into a public area or restaurant is a public health risk. This is simply untrue.
There are several reasons why service dogs do not pose a health risk:
· Service dogs are trained to quietly sit under the handler’s chair or table when in a restaurant. They are not in the way of the staff or other patrons. They do not sit on the furniture. They do not run around. Therefore, coat shedding is a minimal problem.
· Service dogs are working dogs. This means that it is not appropriate for staff or other customers to pet or play with them. Thus, waitrons do not make physical contact with the dogs and therefore hand-hygiene is not impaired.
· Service dogs are groomed on a regular basis. They are also frequently dewormed, vaccinated and treated for ticks and fleas. This means that they are very unlikely to carry parasites or any contagious diseases.
· Service dogs – like customers – do not enter the food preparation area.
· Service dogs are also highly unlikely to defecate or urinate in eating establishments, since they have been trained to eliminate on command.
· Service dogs – in short – pose no more of a health risk than the average human being.
So the next time you encounter an individual with a service dog – whose dog will be identified by a service dog jacket – welcome them into your facility. It will be a small step towards helping the individual with the impairment or disability feel like a respected and valued person. Moreover, it will likely ensure a successful and profitable business transaction for your establishment or business.
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