A lot of people think that a service dog is one size fits all. It. Is. Not. Just because you see someone in a handicap spot who is able to walk just fine, does not mean they are not disabled. Some people have hidden disabilities that are not always seen by the naked eye. For example, not everyone with PTSD has to had served in the military. When someone asks "Well I know someone who is disabled, and he always has to have his service dog with him, so why is yours not with you?" that's pretty much the equivalent of saying "Well you look perfectly fine, clearly nothing is wrong with you, so are you faking?" Then again, most of the general public isn't taught proper etiquette and manners revolving around disabilities, so rather than get upset, we just bite our tongue. This is another reason why I created this site. For education, to those who are ignorant and simply just don't know.
Ableism is a term that is defined by discrimination against able-bodied people. Sadly it's very common. Everyone whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or in any other way who are disabled, deserve the same amount of respect as another human being. To put someone down because they have autism, are in a wheelchair, have PTSD, and or any other condition is just dehumanizing. Those with disabilities have enough to deal with on a day to day basis regarding their health alone, but to add to that be it in public or private just makes things harder for them. Take for example this Twitter post from Golem Gabi
You should never have to justify yourself to anyone about your disability. EVER. It is your private information, it is your right to disclose or not disclose. Globally 1 in 7 people have a disability, and of that seven, 80% of them have a hidden disability. Disabled World has some great examples of these. A hidden disability is a disability you don't recognize at first glance, and isn't obvious. Anyone who demands to know why you are disabled, is suffering from entitlement. If it's only ok to be respectful to the disabled when you can physically see the disability, that's entitlement. No one else gets to say if you are disabled, except in certain scenarios if they're your medical professional.
So how can we help? How can we advocate? The Hidden Disability Store 🌻is an amazing conversation piece and a way to start! You can also read our page of New To Service Dogs and Types of Dogs to educate yourself.