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Service Dogs for People With Severe Ambulatory Disabilities

Susan L. Duncan, RN
JAMA. 1996;276(12):953-954. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540120031026.
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To the Editor.  —The study by Drs Allen and Blascovich1 on evaluating use of service dogs for people with severe ambulatory disabilities will be extremely important for many people who have disabilities.Service animals2 have been trained in this country for approximately 80 years, beginning with guide dogs for people with visual impairments. In the last 20 years, the role of service dogs has expanded to include alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of specific sounds, providing the type of mobility work described in the article by Allen and Blascovich, anecdotal reports of dogs sensing and alerting their owners to oncoming seizures, and providing emotional support to people with mental or emotional disabilities.Trainers of service dogs have never developed a common language, professional credentialing, or enforceable standards that are uniformly applied to every trainer or service dog or to the education


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