Maine's community of disabled asks relief from 'comfort animals'

Service dogs vs. comfort dogs

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Service dogs are expensive and extensively trained to perform a specific task, which mitigates a disability for its handler.

Lynn Merrill is such a person. Legally blind, her life is eased by her service dog Libby who can perform amazing tasks from finding doorsm, to warning about elevation changes to safely crossing streets.

However, "comfort animals" can and frequently do cause problems for Libby.

A comfort animal is a dog, snake or even a monkey which eases its owner's anxiety. These animals are often taken to public places as if they had the same status as service animals. Often poorly trained, comfort animals distract service animals from doing their jobs.

Comfort animals cannot be refused housing. For example, an apartment complex which does not allow pets could not refuse a person with a comfort animal.

However, comfort animals are not allowed where they are often seen: in Maine stores, theaters and restaurants.

Business owners, fearful of lawsuits, usually allow comfort animals into their establishments.

The Pine Tree Dog Association is asking for greater consideration from comfort dog owners, specifically that they not be taken to public places.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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