My disability does not need sympathy  

I say this having recently read what I considered to be a very offensive post on social media. The post itself was bad enough but the comments that followed it were unbelievable. 

The post read along the lines of “whilst I have great sympathy with you and whatever your disability is being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can let your dog foul (I’ve toned it down) on the footpath and not clear it up, if you can’t clear it up you shouldn’t have a dog” Then there was a link and photo to an extending pooper scooper type device available  from a national store. 

This post caught my eye for a number of reasons. 

  1. As a disabled person I do not want sympathy, and nor do any other disabled people I know, we want respect, understanding and to simply be treated fairly. 
  2. So being treated fairly and equality does rightly mean disabled people are not exempt from cleaning up after their dogs so why did this annoy me so much. Well there are many other posts about people letting their dogs foul and not clean it up. Not once have I seen a link to a pooper scooper or dog bag, not once have I read I have sympathy for the able bodied ‘lazy’ person who….. 
  3. Comments made read this is why disabled people shouldn’t have pets or children. I kid you not (pun intended) a story that started about a man not clearing up dog poo got to this. One person claimed more than 50% of dog poo comes from guide dogs as their owners can’t see to clear it up. 

    Usually I wade into these type of arguments trying to educate about disability and empathy and understanding,  but I just found myself saddened that 73.7% (yes I did the maths) of the comments were derogatory, insulting and offensive not about the poo being left behind but about disabled people and disability. When did we become a nation who, not even knowing the facts can and do abuse people with disabilities so openly. There are many ‘working’ dogs that help people with a range of disabilities and they all have to have a lot of training, certain sized areas at home in which to exercise and a number of other checks in place to ensure the placement is correct. 

    If we move away from working dogs, what about someone like me, I was happily going along healthy, exercising enjoying life when another person takes me out in a car and changes my life forever. Are people saying, at that point when the doctor says oh by the way you’ll be in a wheelchair, or we had to amputate, or you’ve lost your sight or hearing and so on, that they should finish the sentence by saying we’ve called the police and rspca so your children and pets can be removed too! 

    Get real people, a disability isn’t something people want sympathy over, nor is it a barrier that should prevent people from leading a happy and fulfilling life. The barriers themselves are physical things put in by others, stairs, high kerbs, steps in to houses/shops, narrow door ways, dog parks/exercise areas that are inaccessible and such like. We are all human, he may have run out of bags, he may simply be among the small % of bad dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs. 

    I do know however as a disabled parent with two children I am immensely proud of that I do not want society’s sympathy I want its action to make the world accessible to all, for people to care for all and most of all instead of slamming people on social media all the time get out in the world and talk to people, help those who ask for it and live your life educating yourself by speaking to people who are different to you as we are all UNIQUE  

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