In 2016, an American Airlines passenger accompanied by a Labrador retriever flew into Kansas to continue her trip home to Mississippi. Lisa McCombs, a war veteran who served in the United States Army, was prevented from boarding by an airline employee who claimed that Jake, the passenger's canine companion, was not a bona fide service dog. McCombs took American Airlines to court, where she explained that Jake was trained to detect anxiety attacks she suffered due to post-traumatic stress. The veteran had the documentation required by airlines to allow Jake to board the aircraft, but the airline employees did not allow McCombs to access her laptop and print the files.

Court records related to the aforementioned incident indicate that Jake is an emotional support dog trained to help McCombs deal with PTSD. In the past, service dogs were mostly trained to assist those who live with visual impairment; however, specially trained canines are becoming more common and accessible to people who need them. Here are three reasons why more of these dogs are being trained:

Mobility, Vision, and Disability

Inclusion and awareness of people who live with disabilities was one of the most important social developments of the 20th century. Dogs can be trained to perform numerous tasks to help people with sensorial, physical and emotional disabilities become more independent and navigate the complexities of modern life. Service dogs and the humans they assist are protected by the American with Disabilities Act and organizations like USA Service Dogs help those in need pair with a dog.

Emotional Support

The lives of people who suffer from debilitating anxiety conditions in certain situations can be greatly improved by the assistance of an emotional support dog such as Jake, the previously mentioned Labrador retriever in the service of a woman who served her country during wartime. These dogs and their masters are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act. These dogs have proven to be very effective for patients who have not completely overcome their anxiety conditions.

Therapeutic Sessions

Patients who are on bedrest or whose medical conditions do not allow them to enjoy mobility can be accompanied by therapy dogs that mostly serve to lift their spirits. The connection made between therapy dogs and their patients is very touching and amazing. Some therapy dogs are permanently stationed at hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice care facilities. These dogs can be certified with proper documentation; however, they are not yet protected by federal laws.

Years of research and practice in the field of training dogs as specialized companions are not only making these canines more common but also more beneficial for the humans they serve.

Author's Bio: 

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.