American Humane and Mars Petcare have joined forces to produce two free service dog training videos designed to help train business and retail employees to better accommodate veterans and other patrons who have service dogs. The project is intended to support retired servicewomen and men who rely on a service animal to help them navigate the struggles of the invisible wounds of war.
Too often a veteran coping with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury is denied access to a restaurant, taxi or hotel because of his or her service dog. The free videos are designed to help businesses avoid this problem and accommodate for patrons with service dogs.
American Humane is the first national humane organization in the US and has been supporting the US military for more than 100 years. A survey by American Humane suggests employees are ill-informed and unprepared to accommodate the unique needs of customers with service dogs. Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) of retail employees said they never received training from their employer on the questions they are legally allowed to ask customers to verify an animal is a service dog.
“There is a great deal of confusion around service dogs that can lead to discrimination against our nation’s veterans and others with disabilities,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, in a press release. “By providing business owners and employees with the key information they need to properly serve those who have served our country and those who need our help and understanding, we hope to improve access for those with legitimate service dogs and reduce the possibility of public confrontation.”
These new training videos provide helpful information and guidance about how employees can properly and lawfully attend to customers with service dogs in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and include business owner and veteran testimonials.
US national standards for service dogs
In 2016, Mars Petcare and the Schultz Family Foundation, among others, helped fund an effort led by American Humane and leaders in the veteran, service dog, veterinary, hotel and transportation fields to create the first US training standards for service dogs. These now-complete US standards are being utilized to better serve veterans grappling with PTS and TBI. Additionally, a new national registry is being developed to help verify legitimate service animals in a pilot program by American Humane and the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations (NAVSO).
“Working to create national standards for service dogs is just the start of our critical partnership to support veterans and others who rely on their help,” said Jam Stewart, Mars Petcare vice president, corporate affairs. “Our BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program focuses on creating a world where pets are welcome across our communities, and when it comes to service dogs, that mission is more critical than ever.”