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Best friends fur-ever! Service animals at the Library

dog paw resting on human hand / patte de chien posée sur une main d'un humain

Fri, Oct 29, 2021

With no disrespect to cats (or cat-lovers!), the loyalty, affection and selflessness of dogs make them best... candidates for service animals!

Guide dogs and service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities. They perform a variety of tasks, including guiding people who are blind to alerting someone about their low blood sugar. While the bond between a service animal and their owner may be very strong, service animals are not pets. 

With one of our values being inclusion, OPL is happy to welcome people who have service animals. Following certain guidelines when interacting with someone who uses a service animal can help create a mindful space for everyone around. First, it’s important to remember that these animals are working. It is discouraged to attempt to pet or feed the animal. If you really want to pet a guide dog, always ask the owner for permission first. Their owner is accountable for their care and actions. Second, never distract, call or attempt to get a service animal to follow you. They have been trained to assist their owner, who is able to give them the direction they need. Lastly, the Library may ask for a service dog to be removed from a branch if a disruption occurs and interventions are not effective. 

Like the beloved children's book character, Clifford the Big Red Dog, we know dogs try very hard to be good and even if they make a mistake, we love them unconditionally. As the fun and friendship of Library Month draws to a close, the Library is pleased to give away free tickets to the new Clifford the Big Red Dog movie. Check out this blog for more details before the contest ends on November 1.

Another way that animals help us out is by providing comfort and security. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals, because they do not have training for specific tasks. In previous years, OPL, in partnership with Ottawa Dog Therapy, held See Spot Reads – an initiative to assist children in improving their reading and communication skills by using therapy dogs as reading companions. Dogs may not be able to read, but they make great listeners with their non-judgmental presence. Another program, Exam Cram, had dogs from Ottawa Dog Therapy visit the library to be hugged on and loved on by students who wanted to alleviate stress during exam season. OPL rejoices at the thought of possibly hosting similar events again in the future.

Enjoy these kinds of programs for free with a library card. Sign up for one online today!