What To Do If A Service Dog Approaches You Without An Owner

Stock image of a service dog lying on grassPixabay

Service Dogs have a particular bond with their owners/charges, mainly because they are often employed to keep their handler safe.

But what happens if you are approached by a service dog who has no owner present? The immediate thought is it has been abandoned or lost.

However, there’s a good reason why they’re coming to you and it could be the difference between life and death.

Wheelchair user with service dogGetty

Thanks to a viral Tumblr post, which was shared by Melissa Hope on Twitter who wanted to spread this important message, you’ll now know what to do.

In Melissa Hope’s Twitter post she wrote:

If a service dog without a person approaches you, it means the person is down and in need of help.

The story comes after the original poster suffered a bad fall. Even though they were okay, their dog was under the impression they were in serious pain and went to go find another adult, as they have been trained to do.

The post went on to say:

I went after him after I had dusted off my jeans and my ego, and I found him trying to get the attention of a very annoyed woman. She was swatting him away and telling him to go away.

Don’t get scared, don’t get annoyed, follow the dog! If it had been an emergency situation, I could have vomited and choked, I could have hit my head, I could have had so many things happen to me.

Since being posted the message has been shared over 154K times, in the hope people would get the message. People on Twitter also messaged her, thanking her for bringing it to the world’s attention.

One person wrote:

This is important. When I see a service dog, I try to stay as far out of their way as possible. They’re doing a job, after all. I’d shoo one away because I’d be fearful they weren’t doing their job.

Someone else thanked her:

Thanks for sharing this, I had no idea.

Another person said:

I had no idea….thanks for the heads up.

A spokesperson from Guide Dogs (UK) did clarify this is not an action they train their UK-based service dogs to perform.

While service dogs are more than happy to help those in need, as it’s what they’re trained to do, once in a while they need a break too. In April, volunteers from Canine Companions for Independence took a group of well-behaved service dogs on a field trip to Disneyland and the photos quickly went viral.

The non-profit organisation trains assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities.

Once the pups have completed training, they’ll become fully-fledged service dogs, going out to people in need, all for free.

The majority of the dogs came from Sacramento and were raised by volunteers, including Laura Allen, who’s raised eleven puppies so far.

Speaking to ABC10, Allen revealed the dogs’ favourite part of the trip was meeting and greeting all the Disney characters.

She also stated how the outing is vital when it comes to training:

It’s great socialisation for the dogs. There are different sounds, people, kids.

Allen explained she regularly takes dogs to Disneyland but this is the first time they’ve got so much attention online.

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