(KXNET) — Assistance Dogs International estimates that there are nearly 17,000 assistance dogs in North America.

Service dogs perform vital tasks, like guiding people with visual impairments, signaling certain sounds for those who are deaf, or alerting on cardiac episodes and seizures.

Kristina Reed, president of Reeds Service Dogs in Minot says service dogs can also help with invisible disabilities.

“We really focus on training our dogs for a lot of those issues that you don’t necessarily realize are needed. So, a big one that we work with is deep pressure therapy, which is where dogs lay on top of the owners or put a paw down and this helps alleviate any kind of stress,” said Reed.

It takes about one year of training for dogs to be able to perform the tasks.

This training allows both the dog and their future handlers to work together so that the dog will be able to alert to the handler’s triggers.

“It’s really important to have a service dog because they’re just like a medical device, they’re no different than insulin, they’re no different than a pacemaker, they’re there to assist an individual with a disability who maybe can’t go out into public without the dog,” added Reed.

It may be easy to confuse a service dog with an emotional support animal, also known as an ESA.

But an ESA does not perform specific tasks, instead, it simply serves as a support system in both everyday life and challenging situations, while a service animal is trained to complete tasks.

Giving the handler ease and peace of mind.

“They give people confidence and independence that they may not have ever had before or they haven’t had in years,” stated Reed.

Reeds Service Dogs does not charge for their services and is always looking for volunteers to help out.

For more information visit the Reeds Service Dogs website.