Teen seeking Eagle Scout badge teaches first responders about service animals

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The relationship Gabe Maloney, 16, has with his service dog, Stanley, goes beyond man and his best friend

"He is a part of me. Stanley is Gabe, I cannot function one day without him," Maloney, who is working to become an Eagle Scout, said.

Maloney suffers from narcolepsy and can fall asleep at any time. Sometimes falling asleep for up to 16 hours at a time. Stanley's job is to stimulate Maloney' brain.

"He ensures that I am safe and he is constantly reading me to see what I'm up to and doing. Not only safe but awake," Maloney said.

In the year and a half they've been together, they've run into several issues.

"What really kicked this off is I went to an establishment and there was a police officer there who didn’t know the laws about the service dog." Maloney said. "He wanted to know what my disability was and if I really needed to have my dog in here. At the end he gave it up to the cashier to make the decision."

Maloney said he and Stanley were told to leave. Now he has made it his mission to help first responders and others understand the importance and laws for those with service dogs.

"What I say is if I came in with a prosthetic leg, would you have me take it off before I enter your store? Stanley is my prosthetic leg and I can’t go through a full day without him," Maloney said.

Independence Assistant Fire Chief David Shelley said Maloney's message was one his firefighters needed to hear.

"I learned quite a bit and no understanding or didn’t realize what services those type of animals provide to their people, like with Gabe and his disability and how it helps him throughout his life," Shelley said.

"First responders aren’t really taught how to deal with a service animal. We’re just taught that an animal might be a threat to us or the patient, if we have a patient," Glenda Knisely, Independence Fire Inspector, said.

And Maloney's presentations have made an immediate impact on about 100 firefighters so far.

"It gives us firsthand knowledge of that. You hear about these cases but for him to come in here and show us directly because he was affected by this because I was told to leave my dog outside but I need my dog here. This helps us to be better aware of those situations not to go in and knee-jerk react and think we need to remove that animal," Knisely said.

"The bond between an owner and his service dog is really unique and it’s special because it’s not every day you have something trust in you every day and step by step he is there to help you and you’re there for him as well," Maloney said.

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