Thursday, September 02, 2010

Cesar Milan's "Junior" Gets His Service Dog Certification

Cesar with Junior, displaying the USSDR paper and patch

Junior gets his Service Dog certification!
(My comments in Blue- Heather Gerquest and Rowena, SD-c)

Junior recently received his Service Dog certification...  
(USSDR is simply a service dog registry.  It does not certify a dog at all.) 
...from The United States Service Dog Registry (USSDR), an independent registry service that offers self-identification for Service or Assistance Dogs.
(A disabled person who uses a service dog does not have to register or certify their service dog with anyone.)

"I'm so proud of Junior," Cesar said. "He's been an amazing helper to me... 
(which is what a service dog does) 

...and so many dogs, and now he can continue to share his balance with the rest of the world in his service (which is NOT what service dogs do)."

Do you think your dog has what...
 (Maybe you do, but you must be disabled to have/ use a service dog.  It is not the dog that has access, but it is the disabled person that has the public access.)
...takes to be a Service Dog? 

Although not required by law, your dog should be trained to follow both specific and basic obedience commands, as well as display non-aggressive and sociable behavior in order to be considered an effective Service Dog. 
(Some service dog programs make it mandatory to train the dog  to perform at least 3 tasks or specific work that help mitigate your disability which you need to even qualify for a service animal)
It is recommended that any potential Service Dogs undergo at least 120 hours of professional training to obtain the necessary skills and demeanor. 
(Service Dog trainers and handlers recommend that anyone training a service dog should keep a diary that tracks your dog's progress and training.) 
USSDR suggests that every candidate complete the Public Access Test created by Assistance Dogs International, Inc., 
(There are other public access tests available as well... some more strict than ADI's. Look to the left and click on one of the public access tests links listed in Rosie's Favorite Links.) fully assess your dog’s ability to function as a Service Dog.

(It is not so much that I don't believe Cesar has a disability that would necessitate the use of a service dog as much as the information the article put out to the public is misleading.  One would initially believe that Cesar had some part in the writing of this article and thus the false information would have been okayed by him.  That is what really got me most.)

I'm confused. I didn't know that Cesar was disabled, let alone disabled to the point that he even needed a service dog.

People, this article is very misleading.

The legal definition of a service dog (read the updated definiton on the "What is a Service Dog" page, tab is at the top of this blog page) is any dog that has been trained to do work or tasks that help mitigate a person with a disability. A disability is any medical or physical condition that greatly limits one or more daily life functions. A service dog is allowed by law to go anywhere the general public can go. The disabled handler with a service dog is protected by state service dog laws and also Federal service dog laws which can be found in the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act. They are NOT considered pets, but are considered adaptive equipment. It is the disabled person who is given the access, not the dog. It is like a person with a wheel chair. You never see a business say "Sorry, we don't allow wheel chairs around here. You'll have to leave it outside". As well, the service dog helps the disabled person to function better and access goods and services in the community that otherwise they would not be able to do so.

Whether Cesar has an invisible disability or not is not for me to decide.  It is possible.  However it upsets me that this article was written so poorly.  It makes it hard for me to believe Junior is his service dog.  At some point he is going to have to come clean with the public and come out of the closet and disclose that he does indeed have a disability, and same rules apply, he doesn't have to tell a single soul what that disability is.  Them's the rules!

So as you can see from my intro paragraph, it takes more than a good dog to become a service dog. The person owning or handling the dog must actually have a disability. Some training facilities also want the service dog to learn to perform 3 tasks that assist their handler with his or her individual needs as a disabled person. Examples might be the work of a Guide dog, a medical alert dog (alerting to seizures etc), a "hearing" dog, a dog that works with a child or adult with autism, as well as a dog that helps people with psychiatric disabilities to alert and other priceless tasks. These are not dogs that are well behaved and get a certification to visit people in hospitals and nursing homes. That is called a therapy dog.

Please do not read Cesar's article about his now "certified service dog" and go out and sign Fifi up with USSDR. Also it is merely a registry. It doesn't certify your dog to be anything. There are (federal and often state) laws against people who fake a pet dog as a service dog, and some of the fines are large. And the worst part of it is that it makes it even harder for those of us that really need the use of a service dog. I know my service dog is a life saver and life giver. Without her assisting me on a daily basis I don't know if I'd still be here.

To check out the United States Service Dog Registry, click on this link-

Read what USSDR's REAL mission is and click the above link.

THIS IS FROM THE USSDR SITE:  Please note: Only individuals who are qualified to use a Service Dog under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are eligible for registration. Therapy Dogs and other  working dogs are not able to be  included.

The Friends of United States Service Dog Registry on FB  wrote....

"Thanks for posting this! We're very honored to have Cesar and Junior as part of this Registry. Cesar does have invisible disability and it is a private issue. He also knows quite a bit about Service Dogs and the ADA. He's worked with dis...abled individuals and Service Animals on training for tasks and completing Minimum Training Standards and Public Access Tests both privately and publicly. However the writer on his staff has used some incorrect language in this post. We'll contact Cesar's assistant tonight to make sure this is corrected."


Friday, 9/3/2010 USSDR UPDATE Regarding Article about Cesar and Junior:

"... ugh. It's been a busy day here! I've been on the phone with Cesar's assistant and she'd having the writer fix the blog's wording. Thank you for drawing our attention to this. I didn't even know about it until you posted it."

Later on Friday:

"USSDR: It's confirmed. Cesar usually reviews blog posts but was not given the chance to see this one before it went live. We have been promised this will be fixed tonight. Thank goodness!"

I have heard that a new article was posted on Cesar's blog and then was pulled.  To my knowledge a new article has not been posted and this issue remains unresolved.  Cesar needs to take this as an opportunity to educate people about what service dogs really are... like you must be disabled.
I have waited a very long time now and have not seen any kind of retraction or correction from the article written about Junior becoming a "Registered" or "Certified" service dog.  This is an irresponsible decision on Cesar Milan's part.

Here is what I had to say about that today:
So, to sum it up...  (from Sept 2010) USSDR tells the public that CM is indeed disabled (invisible disability).  However, CM has in no way tried to clarify the mistakes his assistant made in the blog entry that announced Junior becoming "certified" as a service dog with USSDR.  CM can be asked what his service dog does for him and that is not a violation of his rights, yet he has not responded to that either. Instead, whatever articles had been written were pulled.  Whether CM is disabled or not, that is not the issue right now as much as he did not try to responsibly post another entry to correct the misinformation his assistant (or whoever) posted which, at least to me, leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and still in question as to how honest CM is regarding this whole thing.