Paws with a purpose | Home

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Paws with a purpose.


For many people, a dog or a cat is simply just a pet or an addition to the family. But for others, an animal can mean so much more. According to, there are more than 10,000 service animals in the United States, 2,000 of which are in California. This is to assist the 43 million plus disabled adults in America. Service animals are characterized as a dog that has been trained to perform specific tasts for an individual with a disability. They can assist in guiding the blind, altering the deaf, opening doors for those in wheelchairs and altering their owner when they are in crisis. Similarly are emotional support animals (ESAs). They classification of assistance animals is a fairly new phenomenon. An ESA is an animal that provides support and comfort to pepoel which anxiety, depression or other mental challenges. They do not neccessarily need to be specifically trained, but do require a doctor's referral. ESAs can assist in reminding their owners to take medication, removing individuals from dangerous situations and providing service checks for pepole with PTSD.

“I just wanted to find a way that I could have a dog on campus. The only two ways are either getting an emotional support animal or getting a service dog. If it’s an emotional support, they can only go certain places, but service dogs, you’re allowed to take anywhere. I learned about Guide Dogs for the Blind and I realized it was a really good cause. “We created a really good bond...even if I’m alone, I’m not really alone because he’s right there,” philosophy sophomore Jake Riggs said. Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt “Galvey is really good in class...I basically don't have to pay attention to him,” Riggs said. “He’ll just walk in and lay under my desk or between my feet.” Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt In Rigg’s chemistry class, it is required that students wear closed toed shoes, so the same applies for service dogs when they are in the room, so Galvey wear dog boots. During lab days, he also has to wear goggles, or what Riggs calls, ‘doggles.’  Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt Riggs uses the word “nice” as a marker word for Galvey, then rewards him with a treat. “It’s really important for a blind person that the dog is always walking by their side. If he’s a little forward from me, I’ll say the words “slow down” and he will pull back a little bit. I also say “do your business” when I take him to the bathroom and I take the vest off before I take him to the bathroom because he’s not allowed to go when he’s on duty. The vest means that he’s working.”  Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt “I decided to get a service dog because I have what is considered a mental disability and so he assists me with that. In this case emotional support animals only support you emotionally whereas service animals are necessary for your daily life. It’s kind of like having your best friend with you all the time, 24-7,” animal science sophomore Jordan Chock said. Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt “Mo is trained to alert and to perform deep-pressure therapy, so if I’m having any kind of episode, he’ll nudge my leg and then after he’s alerted me and I’ve noticed, we’ll go somewhere and sit down and he’ll perform deep-pressure therapy. It’s basically just him lying on my lap, putting his elbows into my thigh, it’s kind of like grounding,” Chock said.Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt “I’m doing an owner-trained service dog and that really just means you’re going to train your dog to become your service animal yourself,” Chock said. One of the skills she works on is using the word “touch” to train Mo to alert her when she is in a crisis.Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt “I have anxiety as a result of my ADHD and I tend to get really stressed out even in like normal day-to-day situations, like doing homework or if I have a lot of things on my plate. Otter he comes and sits in my lap when I’m doing homework at makes me feel a lot calmer and think ‘okay I can do this,’” animal science sophomore Ophir Sayfan said. Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt “The funny thing is I’m actually a dog person, but I figured as a student it’s really hard to take care of a dog, especially because they're so high energy and cats are more independent. I just got really lucky with Otter, I got him as a kitten,” Sayfan said. “I decided to get an emotional support animal over a service animal because I wanted something I could get right away, I know with service animals, you have to apply and be on a wait list. With an emotional support animal, you just need a doctor to sign off saying you need an emotional support animal. If anyone is considering getting an emotional support animal, they should really look into it. I feel like a lot of people could really benefit from one and they don't really realize it.” Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt “He’s very attention-seeking and it makes me feel good about myself, to have something that relies on me and makes me feel important. At the end of a really stressful day, I can just come home and spend time with him,” Sayfan said. Photo Credit: Sydney Brandt

Click on images to hear responses (double-click to pause audio)

  1. Jenna Reimer, Animal science freshman

  2. Paige Johnson, Poly Pups Vice President

  3. Susan King, Poly Pups Supervisor

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