When it comes to service animals, we've all become extremely familiar and comfortable with the fact that there happens to be animals out in the world who have jobs.
Whether it's something as simple as a sheep dog herding the farm animals, or as complex as a dog being trained to sniff out bombs, we all seem to have a general understanding that dogs are intelligent enough to help us out in a variety of ways.
However, there is one woman named Wendy Turner Webster who has taken a controversial stance against the use of working dogs because they aren't capable of giving their consent.
Turner Webster claims that the "welfare" of the dogs is something that is not being considered when it comes to these animals as they "aren't capable of consenting to do the work."
"The welfare issues are probably two fold; the first is that they are bred specifically for the program, and the 25 per cent of them that don’t make the grade have to be rehomed," she stated. "They’re going into a system which is already bursting full of dogs that need to find a new home."
She continued by highlighting the fact that those in need of guide dogs may not be able to care for them forever. "The other thing is the concern as to what happens when the dog retires; not every guide dog owner can keep that dog. It’s the whole welfare issue around it. We need new technology."
People are understandably confused by her opinion, as the dogs that are trained to act as guide dogs and other service animals are typically well cared for and highly trained. While Pierce Morgan interviewed her, he asked her if she had consent to teach her dog even the simple tricks like sit.
Her response to his comments made it seem as though his opinion didn't affect her. "I know when I’m putting my animal, or any animal, in a potentially dangerous or vulnerable situation."
Turner Webster's opinion has been greatly criticized by the general public and even those who work on other forms of assistance for those who are visually impaired.
Project O.D.I.N. is a navigation system that was designed specifically for those with visual impairments, AKA making it a form of technology some may believe could replace guide dogs, but even they don't agree.
They tweeted a response to the controversy saying "Even ODIN is not able to replace the amazing work that the dogs do in keeping members of the visually impaired community safe and the dogs receive love and care in return! Thank you to our four legged friends."
Even ODIN is not able to replace the amazing work that the Dogs do in keeping members of the Visually impaired community safe and the dogs receive love and care in return! Thank you to our Four legged friends @guidedogs— Project O.D.I.N. (@ODIN_guidance) November 14, 2018
#Guidedogs #GMB https://t.co/YVfTMxNdQN
People who aren't associated with companies building technological advances also notice a clear problem with what Turner Webster says, as there is an emotional benefit that wouldn't happen without the dog.
It doesn't matter whether there's a technical replacement. Guide dogs have a good stimulating life with someone who appreciates them. It is good for the dog & the person they help & both get emotional benefit its not simply about the dog doing work & whether that can be replaced— Paul Williams (@Hambiuk) November 12, 2018
Another Twitter user pointed out that the guide dogs are probably one of the best things in the owner's life.
Not to be rude but this is seriously stupid. The animal welfare campaigner should go and sit in the house of a guide dog and see the love, affection and gratitude that is given to these dogs every day by their owners. They are probably the most important thing in the owners life.— Jamie (@jamiewarwick) November 13, 2018
It seems as though Turner Webster is going to have some issues finding support for her theory, but what do you think? Should guide dogs continue working as they have, or should they find a different solution?