Man advocates for service dogs

Local News

SAVOY, Ill. (WCIA) — One man is advocating for service dogs. It’s his dog that’s inspired him to get the word out about the dogs and possibly create more laws.

Phantom has saved his owner, Scott Christenson’s life three times in the last year and half.
That’s what has made it hard for them to be separated. 

Scott Christenson and his dog, Phantom, have a strong bond. 
Phantom isn’t an average pet.
He’s just under two years old and he’s a trained cardiac service dog. 

Scott Christenson was recently admitted to Carle for an acute kidney injury, on top of having other medical conditions.

“I have an inserted loop monitor on me and even when I had a stroke, it didn’t know it,” Christenson. 

But Phantom did. 

He’s able to identify when Christenson has a medical emergency. 

Even this morning he related to me of a high blood pressure warning and they were able to catch it here,” says Christenson.

While Christenson was at Carle, there was as issue involving Phantom.

Carle says it follows ADA laws and part of their policy says, “Staff should be prepared to offer reasonable assistance with service animals, however, the supervision, care and maintenance of the animal remains with the person.”

He wants stricter policies, maybe even more legislation.

“Carle could be the real leader in the gold standard for how to set this whole process up and make it a comfortable situation with a service dog,” says Christenson.

Now he and Phantom are at the Champaign Urbana Nursing and Rehab where he’s the first resident to have a service animal.

“Many of the peers, the staff have been very receptive to this and are embracing the newness of it and that excitement,” Champaign Urbana Nursing and Rehab administrator, Jeremy Rieman. 

Phantom’s presence has even helped other people.

“We kind of get the benefit of learning what it’s like to work with a service dog, but also see the therapeutic side of that as well with not only Scott but the other individuals that live here,” states Rieman. 

That’s why Christenson believes they’re the way of the future. 

“The abilities of these dogs just keep doubling and multiplying every year and it’s just outstanding what they are doing,” states Christenson. 

Outside of being a hero everyday, Phantom enjoys geese watching and keeping the squirrels away.

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