WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, May 7, 2018 — The stories on the evening news are heart-rending and far too common: A veteran who fought for our freedom and is now coping with post-traumatic stress (PTS) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) is denied access to a restaurant, taxi or hotel because of his or her service dog. It’s something that happens every day to our retired servicewomen and men, and uncounted others who rely on a service animal to help them navigate the struggles of the invisible wounds of war.
To combat this problem, American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization which has been supporting the U.S. military for more than 100 years, and Mars Petcare, the world’s leading pet nutrition and health care business, have joined forces to produce two free service dog training videos [LINK] designed to help train business and retail employees to better accommodate veterans and other patrons who have service dogs.
A survey by American Humane suggests employees are ill-informed and unprepared to accommodate the unique needs of customers with service dogs. Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of retail employees said they never received training from their employer on the questions they are legally allowed to ask customers to verify an animal is a service dog.
These new training videos provide helpful information and guidance about how employees can properly and lawfully attend customers with service dogs in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and include business owner and veteran testimonials. The downloadable videos are available free [LINK].
In 2016 Mars Petcare and the Schultz Family Foundation, among others, helped fund an ambitious effort led by American Humane and leaders in the veteran, service dog, veterinary, hotel and transportation fields to create the first national training standards for service dogs. These now-complete national standards are being utilized to better serve veterans grappling with PTS and TBI, and a new national registry is being developed to help verify legitimate service animals in a pilot program by American Humane and the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations (NAVSO).
“Working to create national standards for service dogs is just the start of our critical partnership to support veterans and others who rely on their help,” said Jam Stewart, Mars Petcare vice president, corporate affairs. “Our BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program focuses on creating a world where pets are welcome across our communities, and when it comes to service dogs, that mission is more critical than ever.”
“There is a great deal of confusion around service dogs that can lead to discrimination against our nation’s veterans and others with disabilities,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “By providing business owners and employees with the key information they need to properly serve those who have served our country and those who need our help and understanding, we hope to improve access for those with legitimate service dogs and reduce the possibility of public confrontation.”
About American Humane
Founded in 1877, American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, has been a pioneer in the development of animal-assisted therapy, and has been helping the U.S. military and military animals for more than 100 years. For more information about American Humane, please visit www.AmericanHumane.org.
About BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™
BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ is a program of Mars Petcare US, the world’s leading pet nutrition and health care business, created to help communities become more pet-friendly by bringing the voice of pets and their owners to places of influence and advocating for fewer pets in shelters, more pet-friendly places, and happier, healthier lives for both people and pets. Mars Petcare works with key partners, businesses and local governments to better understand how to improve communities by: providing safe and welcoming shelters that lead to forever homes; encouraging pet-friendly, responsible homes for pets; welcoming more pets into local businesses, and giving pets plenty of park space to play. For more information about Mars Petcare and BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™, visit www.bettercitiesforpets.com.
About Mars Petcare
Mars Petcare is a diverse and growing business with 75,000 Associates across 50+ countries dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™. With 75 years of experience, our portfolio of almost 50 brands serves the health and nutrition needs of almost half the world’s pets – including brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, NUTRO™, GREENIES™, SHEBA®, CESAR®, IAMS™ and EUKANUBA™ as well as The WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition which has advanced research in the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Mars Petcare is also the world’s largest veterinary health provider through a network of over 2,000 pet hospitals including BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, PET PARTNERS™, and VCA™. We’re also at the forefront of emerging innovation and technology for pets, pet owners and veterinarians, with WISDOM PANEL™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker, and LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator and COMPANION FUND™ programs that drive innovation and disruption in the pet care industry. As a family business guided by our principles of mutuality and freedom, we are privileged with the flexibility to fight for what we believe in – and we choose to fight for: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™.