Service dogs are amazing companions and life-saving best friends, but due to their cost and availability, the benefits of owning a service dog remain out of reach for many disabled people. Putnam Service Dogs believes that providing service dogs to people who will benefit from them, and can competently and humanely care for the dog, will improve quality of life and economic conditions for everyone (the recipient, their caregivers, family and friends).
Putnam Service Dogs is passionate about pairing trained service dogs with people who will benefit from their types of service dogs. Their mission is to change lives for the better by helping people with disabilities overcome the physical, emotional, and economic challenges they face.
The Main Factors that Influence Quality of Life
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion showed that people with disabilities are more restricted than healthy, able-bodied people in virtually every aspect of their lives. Depending on the nature of their disabilities, they may struggle socially, emotionally, physically, and financially. Overcoming these challenges is an important step toward an improved quality of life.
Social and Emotional Factors
Disability can take a toll on an individual’s social life in many ways. Limited accessibility may make it difficult for these individuals to participate in activities with their friends, leading to loneliness and social isolation. People who do not participate in regular social activities may experience depression, anxiety and a shorter life.
Depression and anxiety can exacerbate or even cause physical issues.
Individuals who have a physical disability may find it difficult to complete everyday tasks that able-bodied people take for granted. Hearing impairments can make it difficult to hear important alerts, such as telephone calls or even severe weather sirens. A slower pace, or uneven gait can make safely navigating through a crowded situation a hazard for people with physical disabilities. The crowd tends to jostle them, and rush them, not understanding their need to progress at their own pace and ability. With a service dog at their side, the crowd is more aware of the challenges they’re facing and interacts with them with more courtesy and patience.
The financial factors associated with quality of life are many. A significant number of individuals with disabilities lack gainful employment, and they must rely almost entirely on Social Security disability payments. In an inflated economy, these funds are often not enough to cover basic needs.
What are Some Common Economic Challenges for People with Disabilities?
People who have disabilities experience a wide range of financial challenges:
- Lack of Employment: Depending on the nature of the disability or illness, gainful employment may be impossible. Sadly, more than 51 million working adults in the United States do not have any disability insurance, and of those who do, 40% of their claims will be denied. This puts the disabled individual at the mercy of the government.
- Low Disability Payments: Social Security disability payments are very low compared to the average cost of living. As of 2023, the maximum disability payment is $3,627 a month, and only a very small percentage of individuals who qualify will receive that amount. The average amount received is a mere $1,250.
- Expensive Medical Bills: Disabilities can cause doctor visits, hospitalizations, and even surgeries. Even with health insurance covering 80%, the bills can quickly stack up.
- Expensive Medications: Many life-saving medications are either not covered by insurance companies or only partially covered, leaving it to the individual with disabilities to make up the difference. Medications can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thousands of dollars per month.
- Lack of Transportation: Even something as simple as transportation can lead to economic woes for someone with a disability. Being unable to drive – or unable to afford auto insurance and maintenance – can mean paying $20 or more for a taxi to the doctor.
- Dietary Restrictions: Some disabilities and illnesses require a very strict diet, which can quickly become expensive, especially on a limited budget that is already challenged by medical bills, medications, and transportation costs.
Ways to Improve Quality of Life
For able-bodied individuals, a good quality of life is the result of several factors, including good nutrition, spending time outdoors, being gainfully employed, socializing with friends and family, participating in hobbies, and getting enough exercise. For someone with a disability, these things may be extraordinarily limited.
There are several ways for individuals with disabilities to achieve improved quality of life. They all start with accessibility and affordability. Accessibility impacts the ability to visit public places where people would normally socialize, including restaurants and parks. Affordability ensures that people who have disabilities can get the medications and healthy foods they need to thrive.
Benefits of Having a Service Dog
Individuals with disabilities can experience several physical, emotional, and economic benefits from having a service dog. These assistance animals are specifically trained to help with mobility and balance disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, cardiac issues, vision impairments*, hearing loss, and much more.
Service dog ownership is an important step toward accessibility. With a trained service dog, individuals with disabilities have a new friend that is always there for them and makes it possible to achieve new goals. Service dogs can allow the enjoyment of a public performance, and they can help their person take a walk outdoors – both of which are important for improved quality of life. Science continues to recognize the impact that animal companionship can have on everyday life, and as a result, the demand for service dogs is on the rise.
The Economic Impact of Having a Service Dog
People who go outside and socialize more often tend to be healthier and happier, which leads to fewer health issues. When someone with a disability experiences fewer health issues, they spend less money on doctors, medications, and the transportation required to obtain care.
Service dogs assist individuals with disabilities to become more self-sufficient, which means they rely less on visiting nurses, friends, and family and more on themselves. A service dog can help their person feel stronger and more independent, and that sense of empowerment may even lead them to seek new employment or educational opportunities that bring about more independence.
The economic benefits from service dog ownership extend outward into communities, as well. Many individuals with disabilities rely on taxpayer-funded services like Social Security and Medicaid for their care, and when less care is required, fewer taxpayer dollars are needed. Any happy and healthy individual – disabled or able-bodied – is capable of making important contributions to society through volunteering, advocacy, or employment, and all of these have a direct impact on economies at every level.
While having a service dog provides many benefits for the recipient, there are also some costs involved by owning a service dog. The average cost of owning a dog is over $1,500/year now to cover veterinary costs, grooming, food, toys, and supplies. Putnam Service Dogs believes the benefit of owning a dog far exceeds their costs.
What You Can Do to Help
The first step toward an improved quality of life – including the financial aspects – is ensuring that people with disabilities have access to life-changing service dogs. These animals are extensively trained to assist their person to perform tasks that person isn’t able to perform for themself. They also provide unparalleled companionship.
If you want to make a difference in the lives of someone less fortunate than you, someone challenged by their disabilites, consider making a charitable contribution to Putnam Service Dogs. Your donation will support their efforts to train and place highly trained service dogs. Your donations will create happiness. You’ll change someone’s life and the life of the dog too!
*note: PSD dogs are not trained for or placed with people who are visually impaired.