By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- People love dogs. They're furry and friendly and when dog owners are out with their pet for a stroll, they can expect to be stopped frequently by animal lovers wanting to say hello.
But not all dogs are simply pets; some are working hard to protect their owners and Laurie Volpe, certified service dog trainer, wants the public to know how to react to these special animals.
On Nov. 7, Ms. Volpe will be presenting an educational chat about service dog etiquette at the Blake Library in Stuart. She will be talking about the roles and purposes of service dogs, how to act around one, and even how they are trained.
She will also help business owners know what to expect when a service dog is present in their establishment and how to spot a family pet that the owner has made to look like a service dog for their own benefit, an illegal practice.
"There is an enormous need for education and information on what exactly service dogs do, as well as why they are allowed out in public with their person," Ms. Volpe said.
Among the information she will present is how to respect a service dog owner's privacy by not asking them questions about their illness or disability, the different types of service dogs and how to treat them.
"I see the need for educating the public on how one should conduct themselves while in the presence of a service dog team, such as how critical it is to not speak to, look at or pet the dog as it distracts them while working, which could be life threatening," Ms. Volpe said.
It will also be an opportunity for the community to learn more about epilepsy and seizure disorders. Most of the dogs she has trained in the last year and a half have gone to individuals with those disorders through the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. November is also National Epilepsy Awareness Month.
"There are still many inaccurate myths out there about the decease," Ms. Volpe said. "Public education is also necessary for business owners and first responders as to how to care for someone having a seizure."
Residents, business owners, local law enforcement, community leaders, everyone is invited to attend the presentation that begins at 6 p.m. at Blake Library on Monterey Road on Nov. 7 to learn more about the function of service dogs in society.