By Leah Rosetti
I served 10 years for this great nation. I was injured in the Persian Gulf. I have since been medically retired. It did not come without cost. It almost cost me my life. It got to the point when I didn’t even want to leave my house or be independent anymore. The military was all I knew.
Then I was introduced to Sergeant, my service animal. He was my light at the end of the tunnel. My courage to get out and live again. Because of Sergeant I am still alive today.
As much as he does for me, I have to care for him. The things I have to do to keep him clean, nails trimmed, bathed, shots and his teeth are brushed is expensive and crazy.
So nothing upsets me more than seeing fake service animals. They bark, pee, sniff other people, try to greet my service animal — which is a big no-no — and growl at times. Others are timid and shy, shaking and showing other signs of stress. It’s cruel to do that to your pets.
There is no certification or certificate for a service animal. If that claim is made, that’s the dead giveaway that the service animal is fake. Anyone can go on the internet and buy that piece of paper. Nice try.
I wish all the fakers would leave their pets at home. Pets are pets.
A true service animal is an aid to the disabled person, as necessary as a walker, visual aids and medications.
Like the small percentage who actually have a service animal, I have a serious medical problem that requires me to have my service animal with me at all times.
My life depends on my service animal, but I have to care for him, too. It would be so much easier if I didn’t have to worry about poop bags, where the service animal relief area is and where can I go to give him a break. It’s not all fun and games.
For those who are tempted to talk to service animals, please don’t. Would you talk to someone’s wheelchair? No, you wouldn’t. So don’t talk, look at or touch my service animal. I would love to shop in a store and not be stopped and told how cute or adorable my service animal is. I already know that, he does, too, and I want to get my shopping done in peace just like you. Please give me grace to do so.
“Emotional support animals” are not addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as such they should not be taken into restaurants, businesses and other venues unless all dogs are allowed. Refer to the federal regulations, state regulations and state laws.
Why do people pretend to have service dogs when they don’t? As for emotional support animals I believe they are pivotal for recovery for many. But they are not held to the same strict standards as a trained service animal. They are considered pets. Please do not confuse emotional support animals with services animals.
We have many veterans coming home from war. You will see more service dogs working with veterans. Post traumatic stress and other injuries are the price we pay for war. In order for us to really come home an re-enter society we need a service animal by our side.
Every day I wake up and get out of bed because Sergeant depends on me. I depend on him. So now you see it’s not cool to have a fake service animal. My life depends on mine.
As for those who continue to skirt the rules so you can take your pet with you where ever you go, we can spot you 100 miles away. This takes away from my quality of life. So please give us some grace and keep your pets at home.
Leah Rosetti is retired from the U.S. Navy, following a medical discharge for an injury she received during service in the Persian Gulf. She lives in Mill Creek.