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  • Writer's picturePeta

How Animals Can Help Disabled People 🦮🐈🐎

Many of us love our pets like a member of a family.

Imagine if your pet is trained to save your life? Or even just to keep you safe.

That is how important service animals are to people with disabilities.

Research and references that informed this episode:

If you have experienced discrimination with your service animal, there are links below to support you:

Australian Human Rights Commission – (02) 9284 9600 Attorney General’s Department – (02) 6141 6666 NEW SOUTH WALES – New South Wales Public Service Commission – (02) 9272 6000 AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY – Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Commission – (02) 6205 2222 QUEENSLAND – Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland – 1300 130 670 (statewide) NORTHERN TERRITORY – Northern Territory Anti Discrimination Commission – 1800 813 846 TASMANIA – Equal Opportunity Tasmania – 1300 305 062 VICTORIA – Victorian Equal Opportunities & Human Rights Commission – 1300 292 153 SOUTH AUSTRALIA – South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission – (08) 8207 1977 WESTERN AUSTRALIA – Western Australia Equal Opportunities Commission – (08) 9216 3900


Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:03] Hello and welcome to the I Can't Stand podcast, the podcast, answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peta. like every week. I'm your host. I have cerebral palsy and I love to answer your questions. This week is a rippa. If you have a question for a future episode of the podcast, can I encourage you to contact me? Find my Instagram. My handle is at Peta spelt Peta 88 h o o k a via email at @icantstandpodcast at or by my website OK. Without any further ado. Very excited. Let's get into it.

[00:01:07] This might just be my favorite ever question I've ever been asked to research. This week, Sophie asked me, Peta, how did animals help people with disabilities? I myself could have an assistance dog if I chose to. And since doing this research, I have to say even I've been surprised by the level of support that animals can have and bring to people with all sorts of disabilities. There are many definitions of what a service and more can be. The most common form of service animal is assistance dogs. Horses have been known to help people with disabilities, even monkeys, cats or on the on occasion, apparently guinea pigs, which really did surprise me. Horses in particular, miniature ones at that seemed to be a preference in certain countries and cultures. Given their ability to keep their handlers safe and also they seem to have great judgment and problem solving skills, which I did not know. And then I guess it's quite logical when you think about police horses in the same context is helping people with disabilities. Those horses would have a high level of concentration and aren't easily distracted by other people or other environmental factors. So it makes a lot of sense as to why horses can be a great match for certain people. So maybe like you. The most common sort of service dog I've ever seen when I'm out and about our guide dogs helping their handlers who are vision-impaired or blind. So as you might expect, guide dogs help their handlers navigate throughout the world, including avoiding obstacles, stopping at curbs or steps. Helping their owners walk in a straight line as they cross the road, even assisting if their owner may be about to bump their head.

[00:03:34] There are hearing assistance dogs, hearing dogs, help people with hearing impairment, and they alert their owner or guide their owner to specific sounds, including doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones, even alarm clocks. These dogs are trained to be able to distinguish between different sounds and the sort of alert level that would be needed. I mean, I think that would be a difference between a smoke alarm and a doorbell, for example, as far as importance. So when a hearing service dog is the sound, they are trained to alert their owner by nudging them and pulling them towards the sound when appropriate. So while in theory, I might think it would be cute to be woken up by a dog every morning instead of my alarm. These dogs really are invaluable to their owners. The next form of assistance dog, our service dogs that help people with physical disabilities. Each dog is like custom trained to their owner, which is just amazing. Things like opening doors, turning on and off light switches. I can't tell you how many times I've got into bed and realized I've left a light on. If I was capable to walk, these dogs might be able to help me with my balance and stability. They stand next to their own wall, their own against their balance. This would reduce the risk of falls and injuries. I can appreciate how life-changing that little technique could be for someone. Service dogs that assist people with physical disabilities can also do tasks like put dirty washing in the washing machine or pick things up off the ground. So some people with physical disabilities could also be assisted. Buying the dog because the dog is able to smell that a seizure is coming. They're able to sit on or apply pressure to their owner while the owner is having a seizure or better yet, they can physically bring your medication if a seizure is about to occur. Therapeutic and companion animals have a next major form of resistant animals. Somebody with a disability can have.

[00:06:17] I myself and possibly many of you would understand the positive impact on your overall mental well-being by just physically having a pet. So it makes sense that there are now therapeutic and companion animals that help people with mental health and intellectual disabilities, including autism and other disabilities, including ADHD. Now, depending on what sort of support the owner needs, determines the sort of animal that they gain. So while probably it's common to gain a dog, therapeutic animals can include cats, guinea pigs, horses and even monkeys. In some very interesting cases, probably not in Australia, but still. We all know that animals are the most loving, nonjudgmental things, probably on Earth. There's a reason why the dog is called man's best friend. Animals can give people a sense of purpose. A reason to look after yourself, because there's someone relying on you, a reason to get up in the morning. They love you regardless of what yesterday was like. They're always happy to see you. And ready for a day ahead. There have been many studies asserting the positive impact the animals can have on people's mental well-being. Helping with social anxiety, and it's been found that simply petting a dog can reduce stress. I read a study talking about why there's always a fish tank in medical offices. Why are there fish tanks in dentist surgeries? It's because by simply looking at the fish has been proven to lower blood pressure and reduced feelings of anxiety and stress. As I said, having something that relies on you and loves you unconditionally, of course, helps, but having a trained animal that's able to identify your moods and help you when needed, including sitting on you during an episode to ensure your safety. It really goes to show that animals help us in so many ways.

[00:08:58] Of course, when you have a disability, discrimination is often right around the corner. As people with disabilities, we are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992. We have a right to enter all premises with our service animals. While the business owner is allowed to ask for accreditation and certificates that affirm that our service animal is trained. There are very limited circumstances in which it is appropriate to refuse entry to someone with a service animal. The only areas to which a service animal may be refused entry are specific clinical settings, surgically sterilized areas. Industrial food preparation areas, including industrial kitchens and quarantine areas. I have linked many associations that can help you if you've been discriminated against because of your service animal. For those of us who don't have an assistance animal. I quickly just wanted to talk about why it's important not to pet or interact with a service animal. When you say them out in public. When you think of that, the sort of important task that these animals provide for their handlers, it does make sense as to why we shouldn't pet them or interact with them. Basically petting or interacting with them is a form of distraction and can take them away from the very important tasks that they undertake for their owners. And that includes all interactions, including talking to them or touching them. As I said, these dogs are very highly trained and attuned to their own. They are often with their owner for between eight to nine years before they retire. According to Assistance Dogs Australia, it costs them $40000 per dog. This includes everything from actually purchasing puppy to vaccinations to training to food, etc.. Assistance dogs are provided free of charge to a person who needs them. Unfortunately, from my research, I've found that their applications are currently not open and you can appreciate why when it's so expensive and also requires so much specialized training and attention. Animals are often invaluable and a part of the family of all owners. I can only imagine the sort of connection that you would have to an animal that could in fact save your life. Just to be really ironic. I hope that I managed to edit out all the barking of my neighbor's dog while I was recording this website.

Peta [00:12:11] Thank you for listening to this week's episode about service animals. I thoroughly enjoyed researching this one, so I hope you did too. If you'd like to lead a writing and review, you can do that via Apple podcasts. You simply just fill out the number of stars and you can write a comment if you would like to. Or can I encourage you to share any of my episodes on social media? It really helps more people realize that this podcast exists and more people learn what it's like to live with a disability. I hope you have a lovely week and two next time guys find.


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