Troubling trend of people pretending a pet is a service dog continues

The trend of passing pets off as service dogs I’ve shared in the past shows no signs of stopping. Normally, service dogs wear vests that they earn after a lengthy training process, and are allowed to enter any public business or institution. Unfortunately, the ready availability of service dog gear in stores online and people’s willingness to run a scam is resulting in suspicion of people with legitimate service dogs. You may wonder why a person would pretend they are using a service dog. Often it is to gain increased access, either for the dog or the owner. I recently had a friend recommend to me that if I ever wanted to travel by plane with my dog, I ought to buy a service dog vest online in order to avoid the hassle of checking my pet.

Pets who don’t have the rigorous training of a service animal are often given away by bad behavior, such as barking or biting. And yet there’s not much a business can do once someone has decided to pretend their dog is a legitimate service dog. In fact, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses can only ask two questions to individuals with service dogs: “Is this dog assisting someone with a disability?” and “What physical task has the dog been trained to perform?”

As explored in this news story by WKMG Local 6, the impacts of people passing off pets as trained service dogs are manifold, not only from an ethical perspective, but in regards to safety and fairness as well.

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of DisAbility Rights Galaxy.

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Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.

One response to “Troubling trend of people pretending a pet is a service dog continues

  1. This trend is indeed terrible and I have met many people who have a service dog because of their emotional needs. Of course, that’s what service dogs are specifically trained not to give. Probably the only way around it is to have a licensing procedure, but of course that will add to the expense for true service dogs.
    This is just an extension of what we had seen with the handicap parking placard. New York City controls this problem by making it essentially impossible even for someone with disabilities to get a placard. It’s going to take me four months to renew mine because they don’t accept proof of residence accounts in my wife’s name, so I have to close my utility accounts and reopen them in my name, and then await a bill

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