Living humbly in our community, Shanda Taylor Boyd is a war veteran and an activist for the importance of service dogs for retired veterans. Shanda and her dog, Timber, travel throughout the nation to share their story and bring awareness to the topic as many people don’t realize how important service dogs are in the lives of injured veterans living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
This became big news recently with incidents escalating where individuals on planes, trains, and other forms of transportations were bringing animals aboard claiming that they were their service animals. (See January 18, 2018 NBC story Delta sets new guidelines on service animals allowed on board). The Delta Airlines response not only impacted those bringing on board turkeys, possums and snakes, but also burdening those with legitimate service animals.
Such responses to the abuse of service animal accommodations unfairly affects veterans and others who desperately need their service animals aboard with them. After almost having her dog kicked off a flight, Shanda became an outward advocate for a new Washington State law ensuring that would not happen again to her or any person with a genuine service animal.
The new Washington State legislation Shanda fostered, House Bill 2822, targets the wrongful misrepresentation of service animals and narrows down who should be allowed to bring their animal aboard a plane or into a store or restaurant. In the words of the Bill, its purpose is to “penalize the intentional misrepresentation of a service animal, which delegitimizes the genuine need for the use of service animals and makes it harder for persons with disabilities to gain unquestioned acceptance of their legitimate, properly trained, and essential service animals.”
“The legislation is very critical to ensure only highly trained service animals are out here which benefits businesses as well as their patrons,” explains Shanda. “Timber is trained to behave well in businesses and to respect patrons and he receives this courtesy in return.”
Shanda’s advocacy keeps her busy and engaged with prominent individuals in government, such as former Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), Dr. David Shulkin, US Senator for Washington State, Patty Murray, Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee, and many more. Shanda has even been featured in a book, Pets and Vets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals that Help Them Heal, and has been in many influential videos, such as “Business Owners Guide to Service Animals.” Her activism has brought much needed attention to this important topic and brings more representation to real service dogs that have been trained, and their owners who have very legitimate reasons for needing their animals by their side at all times.
Shanda is an influential yet modest woman living among us who positively impacts the lives of many. If you do happen to see her on the streets of the Highlands, don’t hesitate to stop and say “hi!”
Photo (top): Issaquah Highlands resident Shanda Taylor Boyd and her service dog, Timber witness the signing of Washington Substitute House Bill 2822, signed into law on March 22, 2018 by Governor Jay Inslee.