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Are some dog owners cheating the service dog system?
03-05-2014, 05:06 AM,
#1
TreeClimber Offline
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Are some dog owners cheating the service dog system?
I live in California and this has been on the news quite a bit the last year. Recently, they held hearings in our state capitol to discuss the issue. That issue is pet owners pretending their dogs are service dogs so they can take them anywhere they want.

I'm not sure if this law is nationwide or only pertains to California. However, a business owner can only ask a person to show proof if the dog is a problem (urinates on the floor, bothers other customers, etc.) Otherwise, they don't have the right to ask.

Evidently, some people who bring their dog into businesses make the claim without the outward proof. Others, go as far as getting a vest that looks like a service dog vest so that no one will question them.

It appears the reasons people are doing this is a) because they don't want to be separated from their dog and b) because they can. I haven't seen it outside of pet supply stores, but others have told me that more and more people are taking their dogs into department and grocery stores, restaurants, and other places where we would normally not accept the presence of a dog, except for a service dog. My Mom saw a woman this weekend at Target with a dog in the basket of the shopping cart. It had no service vest. Not only is there the risk of a problem arising (someone comes to pet your do), but what about hygiene issues? The dog may slobber all over the front of the cart. It might even pee. I doubt the dog owner would make any attempt to clean up afterward.

I worked with someone who trained service dogs. The training was intensive. It takes a lot to get a dog certified as a service dog. They have to be in control at all times while on duty. So, I can't imagine that anyone could really pass off a family pet as a service dog. In many ways, it harms those with legitimate service dogs. If we are some place and a dog is behaving badly, and we think it is a service dog, we might be inclined to frown upon future service dogs that we come across.

I'm curious if anyone has noticed people attempting to pass off their dogs as service dogs. Is this a California issue or is it an American (maybe worldwide) problem? I simply don't understand why people think this is appropriate or ethical. Unless a business says it's dog friendly, there is no reason to assume your family dog would be allowed.

Here is an article on the topic:
http://www.examiner.com/article/fake-ser...sacramento
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03-05-2014, 07:23 AM,
#2
Atlanticgrl Offline
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RE: Are some dog owners cheating the service dog system?
I believe you are correct in that many people are attempting to pass of their average family pet as a service dog. There are sites online where, for a certain amount of money, one can procure a "service" vest for their animals. Not right, but it's there.

There are also dogs that are certified as "therapy" dogs. This is a less intensive certification than for a service dog. It's usually for dogs taken into say, retirement homes or children's hospitals as "therapy". Then must be well behaved, friendly to all and again under control when in those environments. Some claim they need their dog with them at all times as "therapy"...for example on a plane the dog would be allowed to sit in the owners lap as opposed in a crate on the floor because the owner needs it for comfort to fly.

That being said, getting these vests without proper certifications does demean the integrity of the real thing. Many people these days, like with their children, feel that their pets should be allowed everywhere the owner goes just because they want them there. They are expecting everyone to accept their animal, regardless of behavior because they feel entitled. Just as there are places that are inappropriate for children or require children be behaved, so there are for animals as well. The world is not your living room or backyard, respect those around you when in public.

And for the record I am an animal lover and do take my dog into the pet store or somewhere such as Home Depot. But he is well trained, polite and I do not let him run up to strangers assuming everyone loves my dog as I do. If someone asks to pet him I will allow it. And he has never defecated in doors.
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05-03-2014, 08:29 AM,
#3
Kteabc Offline
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RE: Are some dog owners cheating the service dog system?
Falsely claiming your dog is a service dog is against the law and punishable with fines and sometimes confiscating the animal. Service dogs are highly trained animals for people with disabilities covered under the American's with Disabilities act. Not just anyone can get a service dog, plus most service dogs have identifying collars, vests, tags, or harnesses and the owner has paperwork or identification. Many people confuse service dogs with therapy dogs or emotional support animals. Therapy and Emotional support animals are only covered by the Fair Housing Act, meaning no landlord can refuse to rent a home or apartment because of the animal. Almost anyone can get their pet "certified" as an emotional or therapy dog. Almost any doctor can write a letter stating your dog, or any pet really, is emotional support for you or is theraputic. It is unfortunate that people abuse the service animal label while there are disabled people out there that could highly benefit from a service dog and have a higher quality of life.
I recently witnessed a young girl claiming her dog was a "service" dog in order to check into a hotel for spring break. Fortunately she did not have the proper paperwork and they turned her away where she was later cited by the police for having a dog on the beach. The police educated her in the matter and she claimed she felt bad and would never do it again.
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05-04-2014, 02:07 AM,
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KittyReeves Offline
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RE: Are some dog owners cheating the service dog system?
I work in a shore town, and we have people bring in their dogs ALL. THE. TIME. There are some many people who bring their dogs in, that we've given up telling them to please leave. The mall I work on has a strict no dog policy, yet, people are strolling around with their dogs constantly. These people don't even bother trying to pass them off as service dogs anymore, they just bring their dogs in. Ugh.

My aunt trains service dogs for a living, and it drives her nuts when people try to pass off their pets are service animals.
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05-05-2014, 01:05 AM,
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Happyflowerlady Offline
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RE: Are some dog owners cheating the service dog system?
I am sure that some of the dogs that come in this way have probably not gone through a service dog training; and short of checking out each supposed service dogs authorization papers, there really is no way to tell if they are or aren't certified.
There is also an authorization that people can get that have no medical issue, but do have an emotional/mental issue; so they need to have there dog along with them to basically keep them on a level mentally. If the animal is not there, they are distraught. It is kind of a companion dog designation, and allows people to take their dog along with them when they travel as well. These dogs do not have to have any special training since they don't do anything except keep their owner company.

Probably, some of the dogs that are being used this way are not actually licensed either, but again, unless you ask for verification each time, there is not much a store can do, and it is often better to just allow the pet than create a big fuss.
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