SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The first week of August is observed as Assistance Dog Appreciation Week. Assistance dogs are crucial to their human companions, helping them with debilitating physical and mental conditions that can be life-threatening. These dogs could be guide dogs, signal dogs, or dogs trained to help people with a wide variety of disabilities. According to Assistance Dogs International, these dogs are trained to do three or more tasks to mitigate the effects of an individual’s disability. This is also a time to recognize their trainers, who devote substantial amounts of time to teach them the skills that they need to be successful in their work.
Maria Schwarz, who is a U.S. Navy veteran, and her service dog, Phoenix, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. She shared her military career, the circumstances that led to her needing a service dog, how she crossed paths with 4 Paws 4 Patriots, how Phoenix was paired with her, what her dog does to maintain her safety and well-being, and how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has impacted their lives.
Ally Johns, who is a U.S. Army veteran, discussed her military career, how she crossed paths with Canines with a Cause, what led up to her meeting Nacho (her service dog), how her dog has impacted her life, what she wants the public to know about handlers who are still training their dog, why people shouldn’t touch or call a service animal without permission, her thoughts about people falsifying their dog as a service animal, and what she would like people to consider if they donate a dog to a service animal organization.
Nichole and Chris Ranuio, who are dog trainers and handlers for Labs for Liberty, joined with their dog, Asher. The couple talked about the history of their organization, who their service dogs typically go to, how long they’ve been training dogs, how many they’ve worked with, what sparked their interest in this line of work, how long it takes to train a dog, and what they’re able to teach them.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Schwarz, Johns, and the Ranuios, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.