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SERVICE DOGS AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS

Monday, September 25th, 2017

By Dr. Jean Dodds at Hemopet in Garden Grove, CA

Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Depending on where you live, many businesses are now increasingly pet-friendly such as clothing stores, hotels, pet supply stores, photography studios, etc. For people who use and need service dogs for medical purposes or assistance, this can be a blessing and sometimes a problem. Compounding the problem is the definition of what is considered to be a service animal.

According to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) website, “A service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” [The new ADA regulations also contain a specific provision which covers miniature horses.]

Under the ADA, service dogs allow people with medical conditions or disabilities to function and participate in society such as going to movie theatres, the grocery store, work, restaurants, etc. A service dog may pull a wheelchair. Another example is that a service dog can help a person with epilepsy by detecting and then keeping the person safe during a seizure. Of course, many of us frequently see guide dogs for people with visual impairments.

Businesses and other entities do have rights that protect them if a particular service animal behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or is not under the control of the handler.

Additionally, businesses can ask two specific questions about service animals – that do not violate or interfere with the civil rights of people with disabilities – and are then protected from litigation. The ADA website states:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog’s training, require that the dog demonstrate his/her task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.

Some states have regulations to protect people with disabilities that do not infringe on their civil rights. Colorado passed a law last year that imposes fines on people who misrepresent ordinary dogs as those specifically trained for the purpose of assisting someone with disabilities. California takes the law further. Service dogs must be registered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which provides standardized identification tags. Anyone in California who falsely claims an animal to be a service animal can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for six months or a fine up to $1000 or both.

Fair Housing Act

Depending on the title within the ADA law, ADA is overseen by the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) – which is managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – defines assistance animals, “An assistance animal is nota pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.” The FHA states, “Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal.”

So, FHA is more all-encompassing to ensure fair housing for everyone. It covers people with disabilities who need a service dog to perform tasks and people who need animals (any type) for emotional support. It overrides “no pets policies” by landlords.

FHA provisions are also built in in case the animal may be considered a danger to others or property. Property owners – if the disability is not apparent – can ask for documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability. The law does protect civil rights because landlords cannot ask for medical records or the nature of the disability.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Before we move on, we wanted to touch upon Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD), as approximately 15 states have statutory definitions of either disability or service dogs that are intentionally worded to exclude PSDs. If a person with a disability and a fully trained PSD qualifies under the ADA, they would still have regular protections under the ADA, but no additional ones provided by the state. These dogs are performing a specific task, such as:

  • Providing safety checks for, or calming, individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Sensing an anxiety attack and taking a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact.
  • Reminding a person with mental illness to take medications.
  • Preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors, such as self-mutilation.

It is certainly sad that psychiatric disorders are considered “murky” or go unrecognized in this day and age.

Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) was enacted to protect the civil rights and health of people with disabilities who use service animals, people with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), and people with PSDs to be able to bring the animal into the cabin. This law falls under the aegis of the Department of Transportation.

For service animals, airlines can do the following:

  • Request the credible verbal assurances of a qualified individual with a disability using the animal.
  • Look for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or tags.
  • Observe the behavior of the animal.

For ESA and PSD, airlines can request specific documentation and/or 48-hours advance notice that cannot be older than one year. It must state a mental or emotional disability that is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and a need for an ESA or PSD for air travel or at a destination. It must be written by a licensed mental health professional who provides care to the person, dated, with type of professional, and jurisdiction or state in which the license was issued.

Airlines are never required to accept snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders. Additionally, they can refuse an animal if it is not properly behaved. However, an animal cannot be refused if it just makes the crew or other passengers uncomfortable.

Conclusion

Some people sadly take advantage of the ADA, FHA and ACAA.

Regarding ADA, three loopholes appear to exist in the federal law:

  1. The ADA does not require that service animals be certified or licensed. Certification could be considered a barrier to entry and therefore discriminatory.
  2. A service dog does not have to be professionally trained, but can be personally trained. A professional training requirement may be considered a barrier to entry.
  3. Some state and local laws define service animal more broadly than the ADA.
  4. We have to remember that “trained for a specific task” is not the same as well-behaved – and this is where the ADA standards can fall apart.

As noted above, businesses have certain rights. However, businesses are reluctant to deny access to misbehaving service animals or ask if the animal is a service dog because they may pose their questions poorly. Then, they could be prosecuted for violating civil rights. People with disabilities who use well-behaved and trained service dogs are becoming rightfully angry and upset when people are taking advantage of the law.

In addition to the life-saving, emotional and functioning assistance service dogs provide, we need to remember the cost and number of years it took to get the dog to be specially trained. For instance, the full cost to breed, raise and train a service dog to help a child within the autism spectrum can be over $20,000. A guide dog for a person with a visual impairment is around $50,000.

Today, people with well-behaved and trained service dogs are pointing to people with ESAs or PSDs for making life more difficult for them outside of the home and on public transport and planes. In fact, the Advocates’ Service Animal Proposal wants to limit the rights of people with ESAs on planes. But, it is not a problem created by responsible people with legitimate ESAs or PSDs. It is only people who take advantage of the laws, as they are harming the civil rights and protections others desperately need.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

 

References

“Advocates’ Service Animal Proposal.” (n.d.): n. pag. United States Department of Transportation, 21 July 2016. Web. 18 June 2017. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/P4.SA%20Advocates%20Proposal%20072116.pdf.

“Air Travel with Service Animals.” (n.d.): 189-92. United States Department of Transportation. Web. 18 June 2017. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/AirTravel_with_ServiceAnimals-TriFold.pdf.

“Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA.” United States Department of Justice, 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 June 2017. https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.

“Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs.” (n.d.): n. pag. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 June 2017. https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=servanimals_ntcfheo2013-01.pdf.

“Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.” ADA National Network, 27 June 2017. Web. 18 June 2017. https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet.

“States Specifically excluding PSDs from State Definition of Service Dog.” Service Dog Central, n.d. Web. 18 June 2017. http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/464. 

10 Signs That a “Service Dog” is Actually a Fake

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

from Iheartdogs.com

You’re out shopping when you turn the corner to find a cute dog browsing the merchandise. Your first instinct tells you it’s someone’s service dog, but then something doesn’t seem right. People posing their pets as fake service dogs has become a widespread problem. Real service dogs can be any breed, their owners don’t always have visible disabilities, and they’re not required to carry any kind of identifying paperwork or distinguishing badge. This makes spotting the fakes exceptionally difficult, but if the dog is showing any of these behaviors, it’s most likely an impostor.

#1 – They’re Being Carried or Pushed in a Cart

 

Service dogs are trained in countless different kinds of jobs, but no matter what their specialty is, they always need to be alert and ready to work. If the dog is being toted around in a purse or getting a free ride in a shopping cart, they’re unable to perform their duty. There are exceptions, however, if a small dog is being held close to person’s chest. Some small dogs are trained to monitor certain bodily functions and need to be kept close to their owners.

#2 – They’re Not on a Leash

It seems ironic, but you’ll never see a highly trained service dog out in public and not on a leash. They’re more than capable of staying by their owner, but leashes are used to protect the dog. Always using a leash is a basic part of being a responsible dog owner.

#3 – They’re Pulling on the Leash

Because they’re always leashed while they’re working, service dogs have impeccable leash manners. They never pull and always stick close to their owner’s side. Dogs used for mobility and support assistance may lean into their harnesses as part of their job, but they don’t yank their person in different directions as they feel like it.

#4 – They’re Barking or Whining

Some dogs are trained to bark or whine as an alert to warn their owner of an impending medical emergency, like a stroke or panic attack. But besides these infrequent sounds, a service dog would never bark at another dog or whine out of impatience.

# 5 – They’re Sniffing Everything

All dogs rely on smell more than any other sense, and taking your pet on a walk usually involves a whole lot of sniffing. When a dog has a job to do, those scents are a distraction. Service dogs are trained to stay focused, and they won’t be careening down aisles sniffing everything on the lower shelves.

#6 – They Have Indoor “Accidents”

A dog that isn’t fully house trained should never be taken into an indoor public area. For male dogs especially, indoor accidents are not always accidental, and instead, it’s the dog’s way of marking a new territory. Whether they did it on purpose or not, urinating or defecating indoors is an unacceptable behavior for service dogs.

#7 – They Steal Food

Stealing food—whether it’s off a table, out of someone’s hand, or something they found on the ground—is a hard habit for pets to break, but resisting temptations is one of the first lessons a service dog learns.

#8 – They Look Nervous

Socialization is a major part of service dog training, and if the dog in question is the real deal, they’ll seem calm and confident no matter what’s going on around them. They won’t be spooked by loud noises or big crowds, and they won’t cower or tuck their tails between their legs.

#9 – They Seek Attention

Service dogs know they have a job to do, and they only have eyes for the person on the other end of their leash. They don’t put their noses into other people’s space seeking head pats or belly rubs.

# 10 – They’re Aggressive

Some service dogs are trained in protection, but that doesn’t mean they lash out at other people or animals without being explicitly told to. A dog that is growling, lunging, or showing other signs of unprovoked aggression is not a real service dog.

Fake service dogs put unfair scrutiny on the people who actually need their animals for medical or emotional purposes, and they’re an insult to the dogs that go through months of intense training to be good at their jobs. The service dog reputation is at stake, and it’s because some pet owners think “no pet” policies shouldn’t apply to them. If you decide to approach someone about their dog, remember to do so politely and realize they have no legal obligation to answer a long list of questions.

We Finally Know How Dogs Sniff Out Diabetes

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

From Gizmodo

George Dvorsky

George is a contributing editor at Gizmodo and io9.

For years, assistance dogs have been used to detect low blood sugar levels in their diabetic owners and warn of an impending hypoglycemia attack. Scientists have finally figured out how dogs are able to accomplish this feat—an insight that could lead to new medical sensors.

Dogs don’t so much see the world as they do smell it. Our canine companions can detect the tiniest odor concentrations—around one part per trillion. For us, that would be like detecting a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic sized swimming pools. This allows them to work as medical detection dogs, where they sniff out various forms of cancer and diabetes.

In the case of diabetes, specially trained dogs can tell when their owner’s blood sugar level is low—a sign of a possible hypoglycemia attack. For people with type 1 diabetes, low blood sugar can cause problems like shakiness, disorientation, and fatigue. Failure to receive a sugar boost can lead to a seizure and even unconsciousness. For some, these episodes occur suddenly and with little warning. When a diabetes detection dog senses that their owner is in trouble, they notify them by performing a predetermined task, such as barking, laying down, or putting their paw on their shoulder.

But how do these dogs know? What is it, exactly, that they’re sensing or smelling? This question has mystified scientists for years, but a new study by researchers from the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science and the University of Cambridge has finally provided the answer.

It’s isoprene. That’s what these dogs are smelling—a common natural chemical found in human breath.

The scientists recruited eight women with type 1 diabetes, and under controlled conditions, lowered their blood sugar levels. Using mass spectrometry, they looked for specific chemical signatures to detect the presence of certain molecules. Looking at the data, the researchers found that isoprene rose significantly during hypoglycemia (the medical term for critically low blood sugar levels). In some cases, the presence of isoprene nearly doubled.

Humans are oblivious to isoprene, but the researchers figure that dogs are particularly sensitive to the chemical, and can easily tell when their owner’s breath contains too much of it. As to why the body produces more isoprene during hypoglycemia, the researchers think it’s a byproduct of cholesterol production. Still, they’re not entirely sure why this chemical rises when blood sugar gets low.

Using this knowledge, the researchers would like to develop a medical sensor that does the same thing as diabetes sniffing dogs. What’s more, a handy breath device could replace the current finger prick test, which is inconvenient, painful, and relatively expensive.

It’s important that we don’t overstate some of the purported abilities of medical detection dogs. They seem to be pretty good at detecting certain cancers (e.g. urological cancers and breast cancer) and diabetes, but many of these accounts are anecdotal, and much of the research tied to these canine abilities is still in early stages. Claims that dogs can sniff out lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and even Parkinson’s Disease are still under investigation and are far from proven.

Still, it’s an exciting line of medical research that, like this recent study, could lead to new scientific insights and powerful new medical technologies.

Jane and Kiss named Volunteer of the year

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Kiss at OCMC page 1Jane Horsfield and her wonderful border collie, Kiss, were named Volunteer of the Year at Orange Coast Medical Center!  Congratulations Jane and Kiss!

K-9 Officer Robin Receives Protective Vest From the AHF

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

K-9 Officer Robin

Courtesy photo Monterey Park Police K9 Robin, with handler Agent Peter Palomino, recently received a $950 protective vest as a donation from nonprofit organizations Vested Interest in K9s Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation of Lake Forest

 

If you live in Southern California, you probably remember the story about the Monterey Park K-9 Officer Robin being stung by bees while helping to apprehend a suspect.

Thousands of people were praying that the beautiful black shepherd would survive the bee attack.  And, he did.

Officer Robin’s handler, Peter Palomino, wanted to protect his partner in other ways as well and put in a request to receive a bullet-proof vest for Robin.

The Animal Health Foundation who had partnered with another local police department to donate a vest was contacted by Vested Interest and donated a custom-made vest for K-9 Officer Robin.

 

Press Release from Monterey Park Police Dept.

On June 26, 2015, the Monterey Park Police Department’s K9 Robin was awarded a ballistic vest thanks to nonprofit organizations Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation of Lake Forest, CA who provided $950 for the vest. The vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by the Animal Health Foundation.” This is the second vest to be awarded to a Monterey Park K9 this year since K9 Veeda in May.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA. whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. Each vest costs $950 and has a five year warranty. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four legged K9 Officers. Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 1,395 law enforcement canines in 49 states with protective vests since 2009 at a cost of over $1.3 million.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. also announces their signature tank top is now available online for a $20.00 donation at www.vik9s.org. Proceeds will provide bullet and stab protective vests, for police dogs actively working without the potentially lifesaving equipments.

The organization orders the U.S. made vests exclusively from distributor Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, MA. who also does the custom embroidery on the body armor. Vests are manufactured by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.

New K9 graduates as well as K9s with expired vests are eligible to participate. The program is open to law enforcement dogs who are U.S. employed, certified and at least 19 months of age.

For more information regarding Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Tax deductible donations accepted via mail to: Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718 or via their website at www.vik9s.org

 

The Pasadena Star News wrote this story:

By Melissa Masatani, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

MONTEREY PARK >> A police K9 officer received a ballistic vest recently after the Monterey Park Police Department received the needed $950 in donations, officials said.

K9 Robin received the equipment June 26 from nonprofit organizations Vested Interest in K9s Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation of Lake Forest, Monterey Park police Sgt. Gus Jimenez wrote in a statement.

Vested Interest in K9s provides protective vests for $950 and offers a five-year warranty. Vests provide the law enforcement canines some protection from bullets, knife attacks and other dangers.

Robin’s vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by the Animal Health Foundation.”

This is the second such piece to be awarded to a Monterey Park K9 this year. K9 Veeda received one in May.

 

AHF Donates Vest to K-9 Officer Prinz

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Board Members Dr. Glassberg, Jan Vincent, Dr. Johnson and Jennifer Dentino meet Officers Baclit and Prinz

Board Members Dr. Glassberg, Jan Vincent, Dr. Johnson and Jennifer Dentino meet Officers Baclit and Prinz

Officers Baclit and Prinz

Officers Baclit and Prinz

AHF Donates Vest for La Habra’s Police Dog, Prinz.

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Prinz Police Dog

Prinz, one of La Habra’s two police dogs, will soon be much safer while on duty, thanks to a new ballistic vest that will protect him from potential stabbings or bullet wounds.

The vest, valued at $950, was awarded to Prinz by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation, a charitable organization located in Lake Forest.

“Prinz is just like a member of my family,” said his handler, La Habra Police Cpl. Nick Baclit. “I’m thankful that he will now be safer, when he is deployed in dangerous situations.”

Prinz is part of two K-9 teams at the La Habra Police Department. Each team is comprised of an officer and a police dog assigned to the patrol division where they are deployed to conduct area, perimeter, and building searches.

These highly trained dogs assist the officers in performing their duties in a safe manner, by alerting on the areas where suspects have concealed themselves in an attempt to evade capture.

Recently, there have been several high-profile cases where police dogs have been shot in the line of duty. The most famous is the Anaheim K-9, Bruno, who was shot and injured last March.

And on Sunday, Reiko, a police dog with the West Covina police force, was shot and injured during a standoff with a gunman. Bruno has since fully recovered and Reiko is expected to do the same.

The nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with providing this potentially life-saving body armor for their four-legged officers.

Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has, since 2009, provided more than 1,125 law enforcement dogs in 40 states with protective vests at a cost of more than $1 million.

The Animal Health Foundation is committed to improving the health and welfare of animals by supporting and promoting charitable, scientific, literary and educational activities.

How dogs protect humans from illness

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Dogs’ superior sense of smell allows them to detect compounds secreted through human pores that signal health problems such as low blood sugar or an impending seizure. Diane Papazian is grateful to her Doberman pinscher, Troy, whose incessant nudging at her left side led her to find a breast lump that was malignant. “Dogs are a wonderful part of the development of new technologies,” says veterinarian Cindy Otto, executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. “Their incredible sense of smell allows them to detect very low concentrations of odors and also pick out specific odors from a tapestry of smells that can confuse standard technology.” Philly.com (Philadelphia)

KIM CAMPBELL THORNTON
Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014, 3:01 AM

 DIANE PAPAZIAN was allergic to dogs and she didn’t especially want a second one, but her husband, Harry, persuaded her to let him purchase Troy, a 3-month-old Doberman pinscher. Not long afterward, Troy was in bed with the couple one evening and began insistently nuzzling Diane’s left side. It caused her to start itching, and that’s when she discovered the lump in her breast. It turned out to be malignant, but Diane is now cancer-free after a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.

The Papazians credit Troy with saving Diane’s life. And he’s not the only pet who has helped owners make such a discovery. A number of dogs and cats have alerted their people not only to various cancers and dangerous infections, but also to oncoming seizures, allergic reactions and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Our dogs and cats may not have been to medical school, but their superior senses of smell, as well as their habit of closely observing us 24/7, put them in the catbird seat when it comes to recognizing that something in our bodies has changed, even if we’re not always sure what they’re trying to tell us.

Scientific studies have confirmed the canine ability to sniff out lung, breast, bladder, prostate, colorectal and ovarian cancer, in some cases before it’s obvious through testing. They do this by taking a whiff of urine or breath samples from patients. Dogs have also been trained to alert people to oncoming epileptic seizures and assist them to a safe place until the seizure is over.

What’s their secret? Dogs and cats live in a world of smells, and their olfactory sense is far more acute than our own. Physiological changes such as lowered blood sugar or the presence of cancer produce or change volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted through the pores of the skin. Animals smell the difference and respond to it by licking, poking or pawing at the area.

Your doctor won’t be sending you out for a “Lab test” or “CAT scan” any time soon, but scientists are working to determine the exact compounds that dogs are scenting, with the goal of developing an electronic “nose” that could detect cancer

“Dogs are a wonderful part of the development of new technologies,” says Cindy Otto, DVM, Ph.D., executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, in Philadelphia. “Their incredible sense of smell allows them to detect very low concentrations of odors and also pick out specific odors from a tapestry of smells that can confuse standard technology. Unlike some of the other members of the animal kingdom with a highly developed sense of smell, dogs are also willing collaborators in our work.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/living/pets/20140427_Now__dogs_will_teach_you_to_heal.html#ZRUbuBu4pfE0YScA.99

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/living/pets/20140427_Now__dogs_will_teach_you_to_heal.html#ZRUbuBu4pfE0YScA.99

Service dog recovering after surgery; veteran anxiously awaiting her return

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

CTService dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and one pint-sized Chihuahua mix is deeply missed by her owner as she convalesces at Integrative Pet Care in Homer Glen, Ill., after back surgery. The dog, named Belle, developed a spinal disc extrusion that left her hind legs paralyzed on Thanksgiving, but she is slowly regaining the use of her legs after surgery. Her owner, Vietnam veteran Gary Jordan, says he misses Belle and hopes to have her home soon because she comforts him and helps him relate better to people. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model)

By Taylor W. Anderson, Chicago Tribune reporterJanuary 15, 2014

Vietnam veteran Gary Jordan is missing one of his most important troops: she’s a 3-year-old Chihuahua mix named Belle who’s trained to help him deal with his severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

The 69-year-old is coping while Belle — a service dog trained through a Chicago non-profit that since 2010 has paired dogs with vets with post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related brain injuries — rehabilitates from a spine injury that paralyzed her on Thanksgiving Day.

“How am I doing without her? Not well,” Jordan said. “Because she’s my service dog, and we’ve been with each other since February.”

Jordan has been driving several times a week from his apartment in Markham to Integrative Pet Care in Homer Glen to see Belle, who is learning to use her back legs again at the clinic after surgery. Typically, the two spend every moment of every day together.

Jordan and Belle are a team put together by War Dogs Making It Home, a charity that rescues dogs from animal shelters and matches them with veterans who need help.

“We save two lives at a time: one dog and one veteran,” said Eva Braverman, the agency’s president.

The dogs are trained to sense when its owner is stressed and comfort them.

Braverman said Jordan called her on Thanksgiving when she was cooking dinner for her family to tell her Belle wasn’t well. One of the dog’s spinal discs was extruding, and she became paralyzed. “I literally put $4,000 on two different credit cards to pay for the surgery,” she said.

Jordan is one of about 25 teams in the War Dogs program, where veterans bring their companions for training twice weekly for the first year and once a week the second. Veterans in the program have served in almost every major foreign combat since Vietnam, Braverman said. She said about half of the owners are Vietnam veterans.

The dogs learn the behavior of their veterans, moving into action when vets show signs of anger or stress. “I have to tell her, ‘Belle, I’m all right,'” Jordan said. “If it doesn’t look like it to her, she’ll just stay there (in my arms). She don’t leave.”

Dr. Amber Ihrke works at Integrative Pet Care in Homer Glen, where Belle has been resting after her surgery. The site, which opened in 2013, is the third in the group, which also has locations in Chicago and Hanover Park.

“In three weeks, she’s gone from essentially paralyzed to walking around the room,” Ihrke said as Belle tried to stand on her hind legs in an IPC room in Homer Glen.

Jordan chokes back tears while getting ready to see Belle again. Doctors say they want Belle to get back to Jordan’s home so the two can help each other, but she still has a ways to go before being able to jump into Jordan’s arms.

“She helps me stay calm where I can actually deal with people better,” Jordan said. “It just helps me be more grounded.”

Integrative Pet Care is hosting an open house Feb. 8 to showcase the new partnership with War Dogs.

twanderson@tribune.com | Twitter: @TaylorWAnderson

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

NYPD’s canine corps grows by leaps and bounds

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Police DogThe New York City Police Department increased its canine force from 60 to more than 100 dogs in the past decade, and the animals are part of the department’s bomb squad, Transit Bureau, narcotics unit and Emergency Service Unit. The department’s German shepherds can be equipped with cameras to relay information, and they live with their handlers. Daily News (New York)

The NYPD is going to the dogs.

The department has slashed the number of officers by 17% over the past 12 years, but its force of crimefighting canines has nearly doubled over that same period.

“The K-9 units have expanded, especially over the last five years or so, and there are no plans to stop that,” said police spokesman Detective Martin Speechley.

He declined to give the exact number of pooch protectors on the force, citing security concerns.

There are over a hundred police dogs serving in different NYPD agencies, a source says.

But more than 100 dogs now work in the Transit Bureau, narcotics, the bomb squad and Emergency Service Unit, according to sources. That’s up from about 60 a decade ago.

The growing furry force is part of a larger law-enforcement trend nationwide and in the military.

Many of the NYPD’s German shepherds can carry cameras on their backs to check out suspicious packages or give officers an inside view of a hostage standoff.

The dogs all come from Eastern Europe when they are between 18 months and 2 years old.

“That’s the perfect time to see if they have any psychological issues, and it’s early enough for us to train them,” Speechley said.

As for officer staffing, the NYPD has dropped from its high of 41,000 at the end of the Giuliani administration to approximately 34,000 today.

The starting pay for police officers is $41,975, which rises to $76,488 after 5½ years.

But it only costs about $1,000 to feed each dog annually.

And the NYPD wants to cut that expense too.

Earlier this month, the department began to look for a new wholesale food provider, records show.

Last year, the NYPD used $100,000 in federal grants to buy two kennel trucks equipped with spacious spots for dogs to hang out during an extended tour.

The dog’s handlers bring them home at the end of each shift. And adopt them upon retirement when they get too old to patrol.

The NYPD isn’t the only local agency with an expanding K-9 force.

The MTA’s police canine unit is one of the largest in the U.S., with 50 dogs in active duty patrolling the LIRR, Metro-North and Staten Island Railway stations.

The pooches are not immune to the dangers of the job.

In June, NYPD police dog Bear required surgery for fractured teeth after a wild subway brawler booted him in the mouth.

The injury occurred as the courageous dog came to the aid of a fellow officer trying to break up a fight among four women at the 4 line station at E. 59th St. and Lexington Ave.

rblau@nydailynews.com