54. Service Animals

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Jose Luis was taking the train to work one day when he noticed a woman with a big German Shepard getting on the train. This made him nervous. What if that dog attacked someone? Jose Luis didn't know that people could bring pets with them onto trains. It seemed unsafe. He stepped closer to the dog. The German Shepard seemed friendly enough. Just as he put out his hand to pet the dog, the woman stopped him.

"Please don't pet him. He's working," the lady told him. Jose Luis didn't understand. The woman explained that she was blind and that the dog Hampton acted as her eyes, helping her navigate her way around the city. The woman pointed out the special vest that Hampton was wearing. The vest was printed with the words "service animal".

Jose Luis had never heard of service animals before. "Service animals like Hampton are allowed into public places that most pets are not. Hampton is more than a pet. He helps me be self-sufficient and do the things that I need to do in the city," the woman explained. The woman also told Jose Luis that service animals had to go through special training so that they learn how to behave in public places and do not get distracted. "People need to help too though, by not petting him," the woman added.

The woman continued to explain that service animals do not just help the blind. Some animals act as therapy animals. Therapy animals go into hospitals and nursing homes. These animals lower the stress levels of people who are very sick or who have just had operations. They also encourage people to recover. Therapy animals are especially popular in children's hospitals. Dogs really can be man's best friends.

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