• Dr. Rhesa Houston

Viral social media post sparks important PSA about service animals


Today in #TheySaidThursday, Assistance Animals Consulting is highlighting a news story covered by the Today Show on NBC News, Viral social media post sparks important PSA about service animals. In my work as a veterinarian, I understand the health benefits of having a service dog. These animals assist people with a disability in their daily functions and are trained to be their lifeline.


In short, this article highlights a story about a woman who indicated a service dog approached her without its owner. The woman did not understand why the service dog was engaging with her and tried to wave the dog away. The service dog was engaging the woman because its handler had epilepsy and had tripped and fell. The service dog ran to alert someone its handler needed assistance. This story went viral and the Today Show created a Public Service Announcement about what to do if a Service Animal approaches without its handler.


How to engage a service dog without it's handler


With this news story, I see the need for better public education on what to do if a service dog approaches without its handler. I see the need for additional training for the service dog if the first alerted individual does not respond to its engagement, it should move on to alert and engage a different individual. I see a working animal that was trained appropriately to be the lifeline for its handler.


At Assistance Animals Consulting, we are veterinarians, recognized experts uniquely qualified to serve the community by providing resources for education, behavioral understanding, and guidance regarding working animals. Our veterinarians are here to support you.


Service dogs and emotional support animals will continue to be seen in increased numbers in the general public. At Assistance Animals Consulting, we provide education to help the general public navigate what to do and what not to do if they see a working animal in a public setting.


Assistance Animals Consulting, we collaborate, evaluate, educate and advocate for successful human animal partnerships and interactions. As veterinarians it is part of our responsibility to guide the public on how to properly engage with service dogs and their handlers. If a service dog approaches you without its handler, will you know how to answer the bark? Contact us to learn how we can help you.

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