A young woman’s post about her service dog being ignored when he was trying to get help is going viral and is serving as powerful lesson as to what to do if you are approached by one without his/her owner.
Raider and his mom Tessa Connaughton, 20, live in San Francisco. Tessa has epilepsy and Raider is trained to go get an adult to help her if she has a seizure.
While out shopping recently, Tessa had an incident where she fell while out shopping and Raider thought she was having a seizure. She was alright but she was alarmed when she followed after him and saw that the woman he was trying to alert, was ignoring him.
“I found him trying to get the attention of a very annoyed woman,” she wrote on Tumblr. “She was swatting him away and telling him to go away.”
What she witnessed prompted her to write the following:
SERVICE DOG PSA
So today I tripped. Fell flat on my face, it was awful but ultimately harmless. My service dog, however, is trained to go get an adult if I have a seizure, and he assumed this was a seizure (were training him to do more to care for me, but we didn’t learn I had epilepsy until a year after we got him)
I went after him after I had dusten off my jeans and my ego, and I found him trying to get the attention of a very annoyed woman. She was swatting him away and telling him to go away. So I feel like I need to make this heads up
If a service dog without a person approaches you, it means the person is down and in need of help
Don’t get scared, don’t get annoyed, follow the dog! If it had been an emergency situation, I could have vomited and choked, I could have hit my head, I could have had so many things happen to me. We’re going to update his training so if the first person doesn’t cooperate, he moves on, but seriously guys. If what’s-his-face could understand that lassie wanted him to go to the well, you can figure out that a dog in a vest proclaiming it a service dog wants you to follow him.
Her post quickly went viral, spreading all over social media as a Service Dog Public Service Announcement (PSA).
After reading Tessa’s post, many people admitted they didn’t realize that this is what they should do.
Most people are aware that they shouldn’t approach or pet a service dog without their owner’s permission as it can have serious consequences. But many people didn’t realize that they should pay attention to a service dog if they are alone and trying to get your attention.
The simple rule is if a service dog approaches without a person, follow them. Tessa humorously gets this point across by writing: “If what’s-his-face could understand that Lassie wanted him to go to the well, you can figure out that a dog in a vest proclaiming it a service dog wants you to follow him.”
Tessa told BuzzFeed News that she’s overwhelmed but happy that people are spreading the message so that people will know what to do in similar circumstances. She also indicated that she will be training Raider to go to another person if the first person he approaches ignores him.
Share this message to help educate others as to what to do.
Do you know what to do if a service dog approaches you without a person?
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 19, 2018