Lifesaving post-traumatic stress (PTS) service dogs help many of our country’s veterans cope with the invisible wounds of war. But some military heroes report that commercial venues, such as restaurants or stores, illegally refuse to accommodate their specially trained service animals. American Humane commissioned a new survey of U.S. retail employees to learn more about this unacceptable discrimination against military veterans and their service dogs. Here’s what we found:
- The vast majority of retail employees (69 percent) said they never received training from their employer on the questions they’re legally allowed to ask customers to verify an animal is a service dog.
- Over half of employees (56 percent) said the visibility or obviousness of a person’s disability is a factor in their perception of the legitimacy of their service dog.
- More than one-third (35 percent) suspected at least one customer in the last year of misrepresenting their pet as a service dog in order to gain entry to their place of work.
American Humane, along with sponsors Schultz Family Foundation and Mars Petcare, hosted a meeting today in Washington to address the lack of nationally accepted standards for the definition, training, and credentialing of PTS service dogs. Attendees included leaders from across the country—with diverse backgrounds ranging from dog training and veterinary care to business and government affairs—who came together in our nation’s capital to help us develop the first nationally accepted standards and best practices for the training and use of PTS service dogs.
Our ambitious long-term efforts will not only improve public access for veterans with PTS service dogs, but also help ensure the health, welfare and well-being of their canine counterparts.
American Humane is proud to always be the first to serve our military heroes on both ends of the leash.