Reminder: respect service dogs and their owners in community!

Carlee Smith, Reporter

LCSC has a few service dogs on campus, but not everyone is aware of that fact.
Service dogs are different than comfort animals, or even regular pets.
I interviewed Betty Lehman and met her service dog, Gunny. Lehman and I discussed how students should act around service dogs, and she said to “ ignore it.”
Lehman explained that a handler and service dog are a team and service dogs are on the job.
If you go up to a service dog and distract them in any way, you put the team in jeopardy.
There are laws protecting the handler and service animals. If a person continually interferes with the use of a service dog, that person can be charged with a misdemeanor.
The handler needs their dog focused on helping them. In the same vein, don’t pet service dogs, unless the handler specifically tells you that you can.
Service dogs are trained extensively for a variety of purposes. For example, if Lehman is feeling unsteady, Gunny will lean against her to help steady her.
Gunny, once he hears a timer, reminds Lehman to take medication by nudging her hands.
Some service dogs are trained to help those that have seizures regularly, by making sure they are safe or alerting people nearby.
Service dogs are different from comfort animals, in that they are specifically trained to help people.
Service animals also, legally, are not required to wear a vest, so don’t confuse a pet with a service animal.
Lehman wants people to be aware of the service dogs on campus and that there are more service dogs coming to campus in the near future.
She specifically recalled, “When I first had Gunny, people thought he was some dog who ran around campus and I was the owner of that dog.”
Students on campus need to realize that there are service dogs around and are allowed everywhere, and the best thing to do is to leave the service dog alone.