PTSD a factor in retraining service dogs

The Mayors Council for People with Disabilities hosted a forum on Sept. 27 to discuss a new Wyoming law that will charge people with a misdemeanor and a $750 fine for those who attempt to pose their pets as service animals.

Michelle Woerner, CEO of K9s 4 Mobility, said that former service dogs have been attacked while they’re working. Such events can cause these service animals to develop PTSD, which makes it hard to retrain the animal, if they can be retrained at all.

“I’ve had to retrain several dogs over the last 20 years that basically have PTSD because they’ve been attacked,” Woerner said “When a dog goes into a store and they get attacked, the next time they go into a store, they’re scared.”

Maggie Sims, from the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, explained that the American with Disabilities Act requires both public and private businesses to allow admission to people with any type of service animal. Businesses have the right to ask whether the person needs the dog for a disability, and what task the dog is trained to perform.

Claudia Horsburgh, a local resident who trains service dogs, said that she doesn’t think the law goes far enough in regards to people bringing pets into stores.  She noticed that it is difficult to do meaningful training with service dogs while other dogs are around.

“I don’t see any protections for the service dogs in training. I think perhaps the law needs to be more closed,” Horsburgh said.

Chris Brown, director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, said that if tougher regulations were to fall into place, they would have to happen at a federal level instead of state level.

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