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Service animals

Labrador guide dog.

Service animals do some of the things that people with disabilities cannot do for themselves. A service animal may:

  • Guide people with visual impairments (for instance, a Seeing Eye dog)
  • Alert people with hearing problems to sounds, like doorbell
  • Pull wheelchairs
  • Carry and pick up things for people who have a hard time moving around
  • Respond to medical crises, such as seizures caused by epilepsy

Most service animals are dogs. But other animals also can be trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. For instance, miniature horses are trained to guide the blind and pull wheelchairs. Cats can be trained to pick up dropped items and alert people with hearing impairments to important noises.

You can get a service animal through an organization or a private trainer. Sometimes you have to pay for the animal, and sometimes it’s free. You may have to put your name on a waiting list.

Here are some resources:

 

Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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