I have a problem with "Service" animals - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-12-2010, 03:20 AM
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Where I work I see people, with "service" animals everyday. There are times when I feel so strongly that I wish I could just snatch the poor animal and run off with them. In certain cases, these dogs are not treated very well and in many cases are not given the exercise or attention they need. I try to block it out when I'm at work for the simple reason that there is so much else I have to concern myself with (like not getting stabbed) that I try not to let it get to me.



A few days ago there was a guy who was just being mean to his "service" dog and it really pissed me off. I mean, I was just crazed. So, I put him on the radar with my coworkers to keep an eye out for that and make sure if he crosses the line it's addressed.



Anyway, it was this incident that really started me thinking about what a crappy life this animal and the a great many of the other "service" animals I see all the time have. As a Vegan animal lover, I don't put the human animal any higher than any other animal. I think it's wrong that an animal should sacrifice it's ability to flourish and be happy to "serve" a human animal who has some sort of difficulty in life. I understand what a great help animals can be to these individuals and I also realize that there are times when these animals are very well cared for and I also realize the population that I work with is in some ways different from the general population, but I still have problem with the idea of "service" animals in general.



I guess i'm posting this just to check myself to see if I'm not coming from Neptune on this or do other people share this sentiment in any way.

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#2 Old 03-12-2010, 03:30 AM
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How about a guide dog for a blind dog? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/8168311.stm



Its my understanding that the majority of service animals are actually rescued from animal shelters so if its a choice between being put down and spending years in a close bond with another human then I would think the latter would be best. I would also think a service dog would get a lot more attention than the usual family pet as the human relies on the service animal and therefore interacts with it more than others.
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#3 Old 03-12-2010, 03:36 AM
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Incorrect, at least for guide dogs for the blind in Australia and America it seems.



Quote:

Where do Guide Dogs come from in Tasmania?



Royal Guide Dogs Tasmania provides Guide Dog Mobility services for all Tasmanians who are blind or vision impaired. We source puppies from established Guide Dog Breeding colonies in Australia and New Zealand. Sometimes we will supplement our program from quality local breeders. It is important to ensure we have dogs of suitable temperament for Guide Dog work. All training is conducted here in Tasmania by our Guide Dog Mobility Instructors.

And from a US site





Quote:
Q. How many puppies do you produce each year?

A. Approximately 230 puppies per year ( 70% Labradors; 15% Golden Retrievers, 15% German Shepherds).

Q: What breeds of dogs are used and why?

A. Both genders of three breeds (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds) are used by G.D.A. with equal success as guide dogs because they meet the three basic requirements: willingness, health and temperament. The three breeds also provide an ample variety of sizes to ensure proper "matching" with the blind master. GDA has used other breeds in the past, but with less success than the breeds currently used.

Q. How often do you breed your dogs?

A. The female dogs are bred one time a year, and the male dogs are bred about four times a year.

Q. Do you use crossbred dogs?

A. At this time G.D.A. does not crossbreed any dogs. All dogs used in our program are purebred. With purebred dogs we are able to consistently produce dogs that are physically and temperamentally sound and properly suited for our needs.

Q. What happens to the breeding dogs when they retire?

A. The dogs are sterilized and the foster family is given the first option to adopt the dog. If they choose not to adopt the dog, then G.D.A. gives the dog to an approved individual/family that is on our 4-5 year waiting list to adopt a dog in our Adoption Program.



Hearing dogs, and seizure detection dogs, often come from shelters, though. "Seeing eye dogs" are treated like workers.

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#4 Old 03-12-2010, 03:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

How about a guide dog for a blind dog? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/8168311.stm



Its my understanding that the majority of service animals are actually rescued from animal shelters so if its a choice between being put down and spending years in a close bond with another human then I would think the latter would be best.

Good point.



Quote:
I would also think a service dog would get a lot more attention than the usual family pet as the human relies on the service animal and therefore interacts with it more than others.

Yeah and see, I guess this is why I'm checking myself on this by posting. I see a lot of really negative interactions between people and their service animals, and people treating them like tools. It maybe just because I see people in really stressful situations and so my viewpoint is skewed. I'm hoping that's the case and that my small sampling is not the case in most instances. I was using this thread to check my assumptions against other people's impressions and experiences so I could catch myself if I was forming a faulty assumption based on the limited cases i interact with regularly.

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#5 Old 03-12-2010, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by New England Vegan View Post

In certain cases, these dogs are not treated very well and in many cases are not given the exercise or attention they need.

Can you please back this up with some type of articles/facts/etc? Otherwise I'm assuming this is just your personal opinion. If that is the case, please remember service animals are only doing service for an alloted period of time, and the rest of the day are considered a pet/companion animal. Service animals are trained that once their service gear is put on, they're in service-mode, when it's taken off, they're not.



Quote:
A few days ago there was a guy who was just being mean to his "service" dog and it really pissed me off.

What was he doing?
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#6 Old 03-12-2010, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by bluegrrrl79 View Post

Can you please back this up with some type of articles/facts/etc? Otherwise I'm assuming this is just your personal opinion. If that is the case, please remember service animals are only doing service for an alloted period of time, and the rest of the day are considered a pet/companion animal. Service animals are trained that once their service gear is put on, they're in service-mode, when it's taken off, they're not.



That is true. Many of the breeds used for guide dogs and other service dogs genuinely enjoy working.

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#7 Old 03-12-2010, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegrrrl79 View Post

Can you please back this up with some type of articles/facts/etc? Otherwise I'm assuming this is just your personal opinion.



?



No, it just totally my opinion/experience.



Quote:
A few days ago there was a guy who was just being mean to his "service" dog and it really pissed me off.



He was yelling at the dog and jerking it pretty forcefully. He also won't allow anyone else to interact with his dog.

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#8 Old 03-12-2010, 03:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiz View Post

That is true. Many of the breeds used for guide dogs and other service dogs genuinely enjoy working.

Well even besides that, my point is that they're not working constantly, they're only "working" when they're walking the person somewhere. And then after that, the gear comes off and they're just a regular pet. A girl at my school has a seeing eye dog, the dog walks her to class, and then she takes the gear off and the dog is allowed to interact with students and play with her toy during class. She knows though that once she puts the gear back on, it's time to walk. Other then that though it's not like she's inhibited from anything.



So in essence, their job is to...walk from place to place occasionally. I personally don't see how that would be detrimental to a dog, since they enjoy walking anyway.
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#9 Old 03-12-2010, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by New England Vegan View Post

No, it just totally my opinion/experience.

If that's the case, can you please not spread untrue things? I mean you can say in your personal opinion, however it doesn't really seem like you're basing this off of anything, unless you have seen this happen first hand and have just not shared the experiences on here....



Quote:
He was yelling at the dog and jerking it pretty forcefully. He also won't allow anyone else to interact with his dog.

Actually it's extremely important for people to NOT interact with the dog while it's working, because it can create dangerous situations. From what I hear, this is a huge problem with people not respecting the person's rules to not interact, which is extremely disrespectful.
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#10 Old 03-12-2010, 04:03 AM
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I think I can relate to what NEV is saying as I think its how I feel about heavily trained dogs in general. 'A well trained dog is a safe dog' they say but the training process can appear to be very very harsh sometimes. The harshness of the training is what I have a hard time with.
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#11 Old 03-12-2010, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by bluegrrrl79 View Post

If that's the case, can you please not spread untrue things? I mean you can say in your personal opinion, however it doesn't really seem like you're basing this off of anything, unless you have seen this happen first hand and have just not shared the experiences on here....





Actually it's extremely important for people to NOT interact with the dog while it's working, because it can create dangerous situations. From what I hear, this is a huge problem with people not respecting the person's rules to not interact, which is extremely disrespectful.



I would ask that you read the posts I've made very carefully. Please note the reasons I have given for making the post and what I hope to gain from it before you start hammering away at me. Thanks.

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#12 Old 03-12-2010, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by New England Vegan View Post

I would ask that you read the posts I've made very carefully. Please note the reasons I have given for making the post and what I hope to gain from it before you start hammering away at me. Thanks.

I'm not hammering away at all, I thought I worded that very politely, I even said please. And I did read your post carefully. You stated that animals are mistreated, however admitted it was just your personal opinion, so I suggested you not state things that way.
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#13 Old 03-12-2010, 04:59 AM
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They did. S/He said "in certain cases". This is true, and there is no denying that. Some people do treat their service animals badly, some well, some like beloved companions, some like an expensive car - treated well but with no real love, and then some people adore their service animals. The OP saw what they perceived as mistreatment, from personal, eye witness accounts, and asked for another perspective - I thought that was clear in their post.

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#14 Old 03-12-2010, 10:55 AM
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I see service animals that are usually treated very well by their humans. I mean, they aren't mauling all over them when they are working and they don't let other people interact with them, which might seem "not nice" but that is how these dogs work, and need to work without distraction and confusion. They are in work mode and don't want anyone poking at them. Service dogs often get WAY more exercise than housepet dogs because they go everywhere with their person.



Honestly I can't think of anything my dog would like better than spending all day going everywhere with me(her pack)
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#15 Old 03-12-2010, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiz View Post

They did. S/He said "in certain cases". This is true, and there is no denying that. Some people do treat their service animals badly, some well, some like beloved companions, some like an expensive car - treated well but with no real love, and then some people adore their service animals. The OP saw what they perceived as mistreatment, from personal, eye witness accounts, and asked for another perspective - I thought that was clear in their post.



I was mostly going off of this statement: "In certain cases, these dogs are not treated very well and in many cases are not given the exercise or attention they need.". I was just curious what cases these were. And yes, obviously there's always going to be that small element of people that abuse animals/children/whatever, but I was just curious if this statement was true and what it was based off of.
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#16 Old 03-12-2010, 11:34 AM
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I have a neighbor who is training a service dog. I have never seen an animal as well treated as this dog. There is an incredible kindness this young woman exudes and each time I see them together it breaks my heart to know that one day they'll have to separate because you can feel the affection and respect each hold for one another. I hope whomever recieves the gift of this dog as a companion treats him as lovingly.

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#17 Old 03-12-2010, 12:16 PM
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As puppies they bond with their trainers, come to know the trainer's home as their home, only to get ripped away from that home and family member to be placed into a situation where they will be treated as a pet when not working. Of course, being treated as a pet can involve anything from being allowed to sleep on the employer's bed to being hurled across the room for jumping on the couch.



After a lifetime of service, and who knows what kind of treatment when they are not on the job, when they can't be of any more use to the employer, they get removed from this place that they have surely come to know as a home to be replaced by a new "employee".



Yeah, I've got a few problems with "service" dogs myself.

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#18 Old 03-12-2010, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bluegrrrl79 View Post

Other then that though it's not like she's inhibited from anything.



So in essence, their job is to...walk from place to place occasionally. I personally don't see how that would be detrimental to a dog, since they enjoy walking anyway.



Yeah, this is why I routinely catch young humans, preferably after they're a year or two old. I raise them very nicely, but I make sure they do the dishes, cook me food, clean the house, and pull me around in my wagon around town (I save gas and car maintenance). They are home schooled by the older children and it works out nicely. Other than the schooling and their work, which they enjoy anyway, they're not inhibited from anything. I do not see how it is detrimental even though I keep getting a lot of guff from my neighbors and various people.

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#19 Old 03-12-2010, 12:35 PM
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Actually it's extremely important for people to NOT interact with the dog while it's working, because it can create dangerous situations. From what I hear, this is a huge problem with people not respecting the person's rules to not interact, which is extremely disrespectful.



It's very true. I always ask if it's okay if I pet the dog first, before just going up and petting them. I've seen people do that, and then get reprimanded.



This kind of belongs in this area, but at the same time kind of not. At the library I work at, we have a patron who has a therapy dog, who I always saw as a seeing eye dog. The weird thing is that the patron herself hardly ever walks the dog, her husband does. Even without the dog, she walks fine. That for some reason has always bothered me, but maybe it's because it's a fairly young dog and he gets a bit to excited at times. The other dog they had, they hardly ever brushed her, and it upset me. She was the sweetest dog ever, but her fur was sooo matted.

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#20 Old 03-12-2010, 12:50 PM
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Just to speak to the "don't disturb the dog while it's working" thing. Out of all the people I see regularly at work that have "service" animals only one them has a "seeing eye dog". Most of the people who have "service" animals have them as "therapeutic" animals for primarily mental health issues. (Let me clarify again, yes the many, and most I'm referring to are from my own personal experience and observations with the 10 to 12 people I see with "service" animals on a regular basis, I have done no clinic research or meta-analysis on the topic.) The owners of these animals have to provide official paper work, a copy of which we keep, in order for them to have the animal inside with them. I'm bringing this up because I think some people don't realize "service" animals are given to people for these reasons and not just for persons who are visually impaired. Yes, to be messing with a "seeing-eye" dog with out permission especially on a a busy street or something is not respectful.

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#21 Old 03-12-2010, 01:18 PM
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There are many problems, both practical and theoretical, with "service dogs."



re. guide dogs. Posts 1 and 3:



http://www.animalsuffering.com/forum...p?t=7&start=75

Quote:
My partner is blind, and we had a companion/guide dog trained

at one of the better schools with us for eight years.



IMO, animal rights supporters -- and even animal welfare supporters --

should not accept guide dog programs as they are now run. Some

blind people have good relationships with their dogs -- I think we did,

because we treated her first as a companion, and then as a guide --

but guide dog programs are open to many abuses. Being blind does

not make a person more aware, and some blind people treat dogs

as no more than "animated canes". I've heard of people who

leashed their dogs to a chair except when they were working them.

Because blind people (obviously) often can't give their dogs even the

freedom to run, and play with other dogs, and be off-leash, that

sighted "owners" can give their dogs, guides often live very

stunted lives that are "all work and no play." They only have a

working life of eight years or so, and then become "surplus", and

have to be rehomed, losing their human companion. The training

is rigid and difficult, and frustrates much of the dog's natural

behavior, and emotional and behavioral needs. Guides are more

intelligent and sensitive than most dogs, and so they suffer even

more from the Gestapo-like obedience demanded of them.



Some schools like the one at San Rafael keep legal ownership of the

dogs they place and have visits yearly to check up on them, but

some schools sell the dogs to the blind person, and the dogs have

no recourse if they are badly treated. I knew of one case where the

blind person walked his guide on burning-hot pavement that blistered

his paw-pads, kept the dog on a near-starvation diet, and only took

the dog out once a day to go to the bathroom. Other blind people

reported him, but the school did nothing, because the dog was

"owned" by the blind person, not the school. The SPCA didn't do

anything either. Welfare organizations are VERY reluctant to take a

guide dog away from a "poor blind person" and be seen as

insensitive to the needs of the disabled.



Blind people can use canes. My partner does now, after one

experience with the whole guide dog thing. Guide dogs are slaves,

even if well-treated ( and often they are not well treated ). Their

lives are often barren and harsh. We humans have no more right to

use dogs as slaves just because we are blind, than to use animals

as research tools because we are sick, or use them as food

because we like the taste of meat.

Quote:
It wouldn't hurt to find out more about your guide dog program. I'm

only familiar with the ones inthe United States, where there are

12 or 14 different ones, with varying standards. There is also, now, one

school that trains miniature horses as guides. Since horses live so much

longer than dogs, at least there don't have to be so many of them, and

they can stay their human's whole lifetime.



Things that I think are important to find out:



Is the dog allowed any "down time" to just be a dog -- run, play, play

with toys, socialize with humans and other animals, and so on? At

the school we knew, the dogs weren't allowed to carry things in their

mouths. Our dog was a Golden -- bred to carry things -- and she

suffered cruelly. She took to sneaking tiny things, like a little leaf, into

her mouth. It was a self-comforting gesture while she was under

the strain of learning. When we got her home, we gave her toys

to carry while "off-duty" and she stopped sneaking while "on-duty".

I, who am sighted, also took her for off-leash runs on the beach and

hikes in the woods, and trips to the park for play-group with other

dogs, but blind people can't let a dog off-leash in open areas, because

they can't see what is happening to the dog, so the dog often doesn't

get any free play-time.



Does the training allow for natural canine needs? At the school we

knew, the dogs were trained to relieve on concrete. In vain, we

said one can _always_ find a scrap of grass, even in the city. The

school refused to bend on the issue. Our dog, who had been trained to

go on grass, held her feces for FIVE DAYS in the dorm, and finally

defecated on the dorm floor in desperation. The trainer told my

partner to "discipline your dog". My partner refused. She had tried to

sneak out of the dorm at 3 AM to find grass for the dog, and had been

caught (being blind) and sent back to her room. Once she was home,

the dog never was forced to defecate on concrete again. Even in the

Tucson, Arizona airport, we found a little scrap of bare dirt for her.



Are there provisions for oversight of the dog's welfare, and can the

school take the dog back if the dog is being abused, as in the case

I mentioned above? Does the school give information on dog care,

nutrition, and emotional needs? We've known of a guide who was

fed "ad lib" by an overly "loving" owner, grew to over 100 pounds,

and died of a heart-attack at age six. We've known of dogs fed

sub-standard commercial diets which are mostly corn. In one case,

a commercial food company donated their brand of food to the school,

and in return the school told the human graduates that they MUST feed

their guides that brand, even though we knew of several dogs with

food allergies whose coats developed bald patches on the diet. Once

they were changed to a different brand of food ( on our advise), the

problem cleared up.



How are the dogs rehomed? It seems cruel to use a dog for seven

years, then send the dog away. Many blind people are poor, and live

in small flats, and have no room or money to keep several dogs.

What about the human/dog bond? We knew of one person who didn't

want to give up her companion, kept the dog working into the dog's

twelfth year, and was only persuaded to give up the dog when the dog

( severely crippled by arthritis) fell while trying to climb into a

bus and couldn't get up.



So, it is mostly a matter of common sense and common humanity.

Even if they don't object to guides on animal rights grounds,

people need to think about the dog and his/her welfare and needs

as much as the welfare and needs of the blind person.



You gotta love it when people happily volunteer "others" for a life of service. And you may or may not be "saving" a dog from a kill shelter, but that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with her and it's all good, because you "saved" her.

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#22 Old 03-12-2010, 01:21 PM
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You gotta love it when people happily volunteer "others" for a life of service. And you may or may not be "saving" a dog from a kill shelter, but that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with her and it's all good, because you "saved" her.



Yeah, love in a total sad way.

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#23 Old 03-12-2010, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by New England Vegan View Post

Most of the people who have "service" animals have them as "therapeutic" animals for primarily mental health issues.



It really doesn't seem like a good idea - if one cares about the welfare of animals - for mentally ill, unstable people who can hardly take care of themselves to be the sole caretakers and supposedly meet all the needs of a captive animal. Of course you've seen a lot of crappy treatment.
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#24 Old 03-12-2010, 01:59 PM
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Thank you, Irizary, for speaking on behalf of the animals as usual!
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#25 Old 03-12-2010, 02:17 PM
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It depends on the owner, as with most cases. Some of the dogs will be treated fantastically and as if they are a part of the family. Some won't be. Which is terrible, but that's how it is. As someone else has said, you should never interact with someone else's service dog. It is working, and you will just confuse it and you might cause problems or potentially put the dog and it's owner in danger.



What do you suggest these people use instead of an animal?
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#26 Old 03-12-2010, 02:21 PM
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What do you suggest these people use instead of an animal?



Canes, therapists, depends on their issue. In the link I posted, you'll see that the blind person can do with a cane and not a dog.

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there is also a really cool system that lets blind people hear their surroundings like sonar.
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#28 Old 03-12-2010, 02:38 PM
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What do you suggest these people use instead of an animal?



Why not use other humans?



Oh that's right, they'd have to be paid or it's slavery. So as long as it's another non-human animal there are no moral qualms...

I believe everything.
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#29 Old 03-12-2010, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoodedclawjen View Post

there is also a really cool system that lets blind people hear their surroundings like sonar.



I saw a show about a blind kid who would click to find his way around. He'd ride his bike and all kinds of crazy stuff.
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#30 Old 03-12-2010, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by nogardsram View Post

Yeah, this is why I routinely catch young humans, preferably after they're a year or two old. I raise them very nicely, but I make sure they do the dishes, cook me food, clean the house, and pull me around in my wagon around town (I save gas and car maintenance). They are home schooled by the older children and it works out nicely. Other than the schooling and their work, which they enjoy anyway, they're not inhibited from anything. I do not see how it is detrimental even though I keep getting a lot of guff from my neighbors and various people.

Sounds good to me! lol
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