This Fall I made two visits to SPARC’s Pet Connection session with my two dogs, Freddy and Erin, and one of my rabbits, Snowy. SPARC is an organization based in Yorktown that provides therapeutic recreation activities to people with developmental disabilities. Through these activities individuals develop friendships, independence and inclusion skills.
Croton Animal Hospital Veterinarian Visits SPARC in Yorktown
I was fortunate enough to visit with 8-10 adults who had varying degrees of disabilities, both physical and cognitive, and their aides. Both evenings we met in Harrison in a church community room and each person had time to interact with my dogs and rabbit.
We were able to elicit language and physical displays of affection for the animals, even if only briefly for some of the participants.
For their parts, the dogs relished the opportunity to have the additional contact time with caring humans. Although Freddy, a young mini labradoodle, was a little concerned by the motorized wheelchairs on the first visit, he quickly regained his composure and had no reaction on our second visit.
Erin, a 12 year old labrador retriever that is retired from her service career for my son with autism, took it all in stride as Guiding Eyes had trained her for this type of work. She even knows to move closer to an individual upon hearing the command “close”.
Snowy also seemed to enjoy the caressing and stroking and one young man named Alex took a particular liking to her, and she to him.
Service Animals in Westchester County
The work that service animals do for their charges should never be overlooked. Organizations all over the country place highly trained animals with PTSD victims, developmentally disabled individuals, physically impaired and emotionally traumatized people.
Often the first volunteers on site in the aftermath of a school shooting are handlers and their service animals with the sole purpose to provide silent comfort. Right here in Westchester we have Guiding Eyes for the Blind and BluePath Service dogs providing highly trained dogs to visually impaired individuals and children with autism, respectively. K9s for Warriors and America’s VetDogs provide service dogs at no charge to our veterans who have sacrificed everything for us all.
Unfortunately, these deserving individuals and their working companions are encountering obstacles and greater scrutiny as they travel together on aircraft and on public transportation. This is a direct result of others who are exploiting rules to bring their pets on flights as service or emotional support animals. We are all responsible for ensuring that the privileges appropriately afforded to these service animals are not reduced because of our own selfish desire for convenience.