Problems With Early Neutering of Some Dog Breeds – The Animal Doctor

The Animal Doctor by by Dr. Michael W. Fox

DEAR READERS: A reported 45 million Americans traveled by air and road this past Memorial Day weekend, while others are on ocean cruises or racing motorboats on inland waterways. It appears there is no concern over the carbon footprint of such activates and the burning of fossil fuels that contribute to the climate crisis. What of the birds killed by planes, the marine mammals injured and killed by motorboats and all manner of wildlife killed on our roads?

With sufficient disposable income to afford such activities, the prevailing attitudes of “business as usual” and “pleasure before principle” give a poor prognosis for the quality of life that future generations will inherit.

DEAR DR. FOX: In March, I visited a local store with my service dog, Skipper. Skipper was wearing his “service dog” jacket. It was 11:45 a.m. and there were no other customers in the store. However, there was trash strewn all over the floor, apparently left by two small children, who appeared to belong to one of the employees. The kids obviously had the run of the store. There were five male employees standing within a few yards of me and Skipper, all staring at their phones.

When we walked in, the two children rushed Skipper and started to grab and pet him hard, like children do. I immediately pulled him back and tried to protect him while telling the children he was a service dog and could not play. They continued to pull his tail and hit him, and even threw a paper pad at him. He responded as he was trained, and I grabbed my phone and left.

At no time did any of the men try to control the children or help me. One even stood behind the counter, laughing. If Skipper had tried to protect himself or snapped at them, he would have been the one in trouble.

When I contacted the corporate office, I got no response at all. These men will continue to disrespect disabled people, with apparently no consequences.

Under Florida state law, not only does a store have to allow entry to a service dog, but it must not create an environment that prevents the dog from doing its job. I am 82 years old and prone to sudden fainting from a herniated disc in my neck. Skipper is trained to alert me when I am about to pass out and to help revive me, which he would have been unable to do in this situation.

I know that fake service dogs have turned people off, but legitimate, trained service dogs should be respected. A trained dog like Skipper would cost $30,000, plus two to three years of training, which I would not be able to do again at my age.

Please tell your readers that if they have any problems in a store, they should call the police immediately and insist they file a report and press charges. I have filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint with the Department of Justice, requesting charges against the men for failing to assist in an emergency and failure to provide a safe place for a service animal to perform its duty.

My life depends on Skipper, and he has never let me down. — N.L., Wellington, Florida

DEAR N.L.: Your account is most distressing, and you were quite correct in filing a complaint. The lack of responsiveness from the corporate office speaks louder than words: It’s sheer ignorance, and evidence of what I call the empathy deficit disorder.

Most children have a natural capacity to empathize with and respect animals, but young children still need to be taught how to behave around them: to control their excitement, be quiet and stand still. Otherwise, animals in their presence may become frightened, even defensively aggressive.

There is a temptation to see assistance dogs, such as yours, as something to pet, in part promoted by so-called “comfort” dogs at various events and post-trauma treatment centers. This may cause some confusion in the minds of the uninformed.

Some proprietors of stores, unfamiliar with the law that allows assistance dogs on their premises, may even try to turn them away. But just standing there and allowing children to rough-handle your dog, I find inexcusable. I can imagine their thinking: “Let kids be kids,” and “After all, it’s only a dog.”

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at

Problems With Early Neutering of Some Dog Breeds – The Animal Doctor

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