We’re all told to not interrupt service dogs while they’re working. It makes sense, if you see a service dog walking along with their owner, you shouldn’t distract them by going up and petting them because they’re in the middle of a very important job. But what if you see a service dog alone? Or even still, what if you have a service dog come up to you? What do you do then? Most of us probably wouldn’t think much of a lone service dog on its own, and probably ignore it. But that is the one instance in which you should pay attention to a service dog because it could spell life or death for someone.
And here is why.
When Melissa Hope fell onto the ground alone, her service dog immediately did what it was trained to do – it went to go look for help. While Melissa’s tumble was merely an accidental trip, her service dog was still thought that she was suffering a seizure, so it did precisely what it was supposed to do.
However, when the dog went to get help, the woman that it had found, was unaware of what was happening. Not knowing that the service dog was actually working and doing an important job, the woman shooed it away. She didn’t know that the dog was trying to get her attention to find help for Melissa.
This instance led Melissa, a Twitter user, to post a PSA for people to better understand what service dogs are trained to do. She wanted to make sure that everyone knows that when a service dog approaches you, it’s because their owner needs help, and you need to help them.
Within her PSA, Melissa explained her situation, clarifying why lone service dogs need to be taken seriously.
She wrote, “Don’t get scared, don’t get annoyed, follow the dog! If it had been an emergency situation, I could have vomited and choked, I could have hit my head, I could have had so many things happen to me.”
Her PSA made the rounds on social media, as people began to share and support her message, making people more aware to the workings of service dogs. Some people encouraged others to learn more about what service dogs do, as well as others who shared with own personal experiences.
There were many pet associations who got behind Melissa’s PSA, commenting on their support.
It should be noted that most service dogs will wear either a special harness or brightly-colored vest. Therefore, if you see one without their owner, that is because the service dog is seeking help for their owner – it’s what they’re trained to do.
Melissa’s PSA was the blunt wake-up call that many people needed in order to better understand how service dogs function. And it’s so good that she posted that tweet, as it’s a very valuable bit of information to know – especially since it could end up saving someone’s life!
BONUS VIDEO: A missing service dog is reunited with its family after going missing on Fourth of July.