We were fortunate to have a group of dedicated trainers begin a service dog training program called Eagles' Wings Service Dogs. It was the brain child of Cindy Sortman who had multiple sclerosis. Along with several other trainers, they would choose a shelter dog, train it, and seek an individual for placement. These dedicated trainers spent countless hours of their time in training, both for the dog and the individual the dog would serve. I have witnessed first hand the transformation of the disabled when they get their service dog.
Cindy passed away several years ago but her legacy lives on in the dogs that are providing a vital service to their new owners.
Unfortunately, there is a disturbing trend that threatens the professional training process and the reputation of service dogs. Individuals can apply on-line, pay a fee, and have their dogs registered as service dogs. This is a thinly veiled attempt by pet owners to take their dogs with them wherever they go. The claim is that the dog is for their "depression" or "emotional support".
It is unfortunate that some people will stoop to these levels and make service dogs look bad. Just recently, a blind man was removed from an airline because he would not fit his German Shepherd under the seat!
Shame on those people who have taken advantage of a loophole in order to have their dogs with them at all times when professionally trained service dogs are looked down upon.