PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — During International Assistance Dog Week, helpful service dogs are getting recognized for their hard work.
The week is dedicated to honoring service dogs and their handlers. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are working animals and not pets.
Those include animals guiding legally blind people, alerting people who are deaf, protecting and alerting people who are having a seizure or anxiety attack, or animals trained to perform a specific duty or task for a person with a disability.
DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland has a canine team that includes service dogs that have now retired as therapy animals.
“Our teams are so happy to be back out,” said DoveLewis Canine Therapy Team Program Manager, Kathy Loter. “After what? Eighteen months of doing virtual visits? That our team celebrate by going out and helping the community.”
Therapy animals are not service animals, noted Loter. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, hospices, assisted living, memory care and schools. Loter says there are 80 DoveLewis canine therapy teams serving the public.
“Teams are trained in crisis response, psychological first aid, self-care,” she added.
The highly trained teams are certified every two years and must pass a background check. You can also find the DoveLewis therapy pups at libraries in the area and the Portland International Airport.
According to DoveLewis, the program is the only canine therapy program permitted with the airport, which allows them into secured areas.
“We’re available for a lot of fur, a lot of happy dogs and a lot of wagging tails,” said Loter with a chuckle.