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Old 01-07-2011, 12:06 AM
lizzybeth727's Avatar
lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Central Texas
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Originally Posted by Sweet72947 View Post
Would you trust a person who functions at that level to handle a dog on their own?

Originally Posted by Sweet72947 View Post
Should there be (is there?) an age cutoff for who can handle service dogs?
No, there's not. But public schools have special rules that the general public does not have, regarding anything that can be considered a distraction for other students in the school. That's how they can get away with dress codes and other such rules. With the right student/teacher/classmates/school, it COULD work.... But there are so many variables that I'm not sure it actually would work.

In general, I'm totally against kids handling service dogs by themselves in public. As a service dog trainer, I KNOW how difficult it is to control all the distractions in public; the amount of mental energy it takes to be able to handle your dog around all these distractions. You have to be extremely proactive, make quick decisions, be prepared for difficulties, keep your dog as your #1 priority at all times.... And that's in ADDITION to remembering all the cues and dealing with your disability. I've met a lot of great kids in my life, but I've met very few who have the maturity and sense of responsibility to be able to handle a service dog in public.

My organization's cutoff age is technically 18; but we've turned down several 20-somethings because we don't feel like they have the maturity or sense of personal responsibility to handle a service dog independently.

I also think that organizations who place service dogs with children do it for the PR and donations. I personally know a few organizations who, a few years ago, had extremely low numbers of people applying for service dogs, so they began training dogs for children and now are overwhelmed with applicants. The more applicants you have, the more donations you can get, plain and simple.

/stepping down from soapbox.
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