2001-Sun Apr 23 11:58:42 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
You're probably pretty familiar with service dogs. But did you know that many other species are being used to help people with all kinds of disabilities and issues?
While the Americans with Disabilities Act only recognizes dogs and miniature horses as service animals, that doesn't stop these people in need from getting support from their preferred working animal.
The story of Judy Zappia and her service animal, a capuchin monkey named Sophie, will likely leave you with tears in your eyes. After leading a very active life Judy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and is now wheelchair bound. Her husband George is her full-time caregiver, but Judy needed help with day-to-day tasks like picking up the phone.
Judy lives in Vermont where monkeys are allowed to be trained as service animals under limited circumstances. She worked with Helping Hands, a non-profit organization in Boston that breeds and trains small capuchin monkeys to work as service animals for patients with limited mobility.
Daniel Greene depends on his 5-foot long boa constrictor Redrock who Greene believes helps him control his grand-mal seizures. Greene told The Seattle Times that Redrock alerts him to pending seizures by giving him a hug and the seizures return unchecked when Redrock is not draped around his neck — such as at night when the snake is in its cage.
Ann Edie, who has a visual impairment, uses a guide miniature horse named Panda. According to the New York Times, Edie has owned several service dogs but one of them didn't work out so well and Edie was dragged across lawns and into the street when the dog chased cats, squirrels and other dogs.
She's had better luck with Panda, she notes, because miniature horses are less aggressive. According to the Guide Horse Foundation, one of the benefits of miniature horses over guide dogs is that they can provide service longer. The average lifespan of a guide horse is 30-40 years, says the foundation, whereas guide dogs have a useful life between 8-12 years.
Cosmie Silfa relies on his iguana, Skippy, to help him stay clean and sober. Silfa carries around a letter from his psychiatrist stating that the lizard helps him to maintain a stable mood as she provides companionship and motivation for him to stay well as he struggles with depression and addiction.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.