Service animals are a common presence in Missouri’s metropolitan areas, but rural areas are a different story. A group called PHARM Dog USA, which stands for Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri, has placed dogs with disabled people 10 times since 2009, and operates in only three other states.
For at least one recipient of a PHARM Dog USA dog, the animal has made a world of difference. The owner of a 260-acre farm, the woman is legally blind. Her vision is limited to very close objects, and blurred shapes beyond that.
In 2012, she received a border collie from the organization that helps her control her cattle. Thanks to the dog, the farmer was able to maintain the life she had built with her husband, and expand her social world, including giving speeches on panels about farmers with disabilities, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. Her service dog “gave me back my self-esteem and pride,” the woman said.
Training a service dog for farm life means teaching them a different set of skills than they would learn for someone who lives in a city or suburb. PHARM Dog USA mostly works with Labrador retrievers and mixes, or border collies. The labs are trained to retrieve tools, carry buckets and open gates; the border collies act as shepherds, controlling and herding livestock.
Even when they are not able to help their owners earn an income, service animals can provide invaluable assistance. But these and other forms of aid cost money, which many people unable to work cannot afford without the assistance of Social Security Disability payments. An SSD attorney can tell you more.