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This is a hot button issue for me. If your dog is not a bonafide service dog, he or she should not be misrepresented as one. Seems to be something that bears repeating. AKC Legislative Analyst Sarah Sprouse did so very well recently.

Misuse of Service Dog Privileges Hurts the Disabled and Responsible Dog Owners | AKC Dog Lovers
Misuse of Service Dog Privileges Hurts the Disabled and Responsible Dog Owners
Posted on October 1, 2014 by americankennelclub
By Sarah Sprouse, Legislative Analyst, AKC Government Relations

Would you lie to get a handicapped parking placard? Would you fake an injury that required the use of a wheelchair to obtain special services? Would you feign a life threatening illness to qualify for a Make-A-Wish trip?

Most people would never do these things because they harm those who are truly disabled and need special assistance. However, it appears than many people do not feel the same way when it comes to service dogs. Sales of fake service dog vests, patches and backpacks have skyrocketed in recent years, allowing owners who outfit their pet with this gear to enter restaurants or ride as a service animal in an airplane cabin, or claim other special accommodations intended for people with disabilities. This behavior is just as dishonest and damaging as the examples above.

The American Kennel Club has always been a strong supporter of service dogs and strongly condemns the misuse of privileges intended for service dogs. AKC club members initiated the use of dogs in wartime that led to the development of dogs to assist the disabled. AKC supports the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws that assure special accommodations for individuals with service animals. Dog enthusiasts take pride in the accomplishments of these amazing animals and applaud their contributions to society that help disabled individuals live more independently. This makes the abuse of these laws all the more distressing.

Bringing untrained dogs into situations for which they are ill-equipped puts everyone at risk. Recently, the California legislature held a select Committee hearing on the problems created by fake service dogs. Testimony at this hearing provided several examples of how these dogs create dangers both for those with legitimate service dogs and for the public at-large. Canine Companions for Independence, a leader in the service dog arena, has started a petition to restrict the sale of these vests and identification because of the problems they are creating.

Service dogs are trained to behave submissively when they encounter another dog. They are socialized to know to lie out of the way under a table in a restaurant or stay at their owner’s side. They are trained to not react to noises and disturbances that upset other dogs. Untrained animals fraudulently presented as service dogs in public places have been known to start fights, get up on restaurant furniture, relieve themselves in stores, and damage property.

Perhaps the most disturbing effect of this trend is that it is those with legitimate service dogs are being denied access to public places where they have the right to go because of the poor behavior of pets and their owners who fraudulently attempt to pass them off as service dogs. It’s easy to understand how business owners who have had bad experiences with ill-disciplined “service dogs” can become wary of all dogs and resist allowing legitimate service dogs into their place of business.

Due to the broadness of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act it is very difficult to address this problem legally and few of us would want to see additional impediments for those with service dogs. Therefore it’s up to dog owners to behave with integrity and honesty. AKC looks to those who compete in AKC events and belong to our clubs to be leaders on all issues related to responsible dog ownership and this is no exception. Please think about the benefit that service animals bring to those with disabilities and the potential problems that misrepresentation of a dog as a service animal can create. Let’s be the first to honor specially trained service dogs by respecting the laws that enable them to do their jobs.:amen:
 

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I wonder, who thought it was a good idea that officially recognised service dogs don't need official service ID? "Och sure, this will never become a big stinking problem! A country half full of people who'll defend any selfish jerk move with 'freedom' would never abuse this!" :crazy:

I get that people in need of service dogs should not be shouldered with more responsibility, but it's outright ridiculous that unscrupulous people can waltz right anywhere with their dogs because no one on the premises has the right to question if their dog truly is a service dog.

And if I've misunderstood something, feel free to correct me. I find it sometimes hard to fully grasp some things because in many ways, animal ownership culture is so different in the US.
 
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Hmmmm... if I'm not allowed to question people dragging around sketchy 'service' dogs, nobody's told me. So I might question them. And not as 'a word in your shell-like'. More like in a voice that can be heard by other people in the vicinity. Polite, smiling, and embarrassing.
 

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I agree completely even with my confession of having recently told a person at Lowes that Lily was "working." I was careful not to say she was a service dog and let the woman draw her own conclusion, which honestly was probably that she was a service dog. She really had been working with me that day and I just didn't have the heart to make her wait in the car for me. also every other person who works at this particular Lowes has always made her feel welcome with no explanation needed. On hot days I have spoken with employees there who have said something along the lines of "we are so glad when we see people bring their dogs in on hot days."

I would never "fake" taking her places like planes, restaurants, etc under the guise of her being a service dog. Just like with a handicapped license plate for parking, faking it can be cruel to those who really need that accommodation. Having watched many clearly able bodied people park in handicapped spaces over the years while also watching my own dad (he was a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart decorated veteran of the Pacific theatre in WWII, now buried in the sacred ground at Arlington) struggle to get in and out of his car makes that a hot button issue for me and the service dog problem is an exact parallel.

I once had to explain to a woman who had put a dog bed into a supermarket shopping cart for her little poo something that unless the dog was a working service dog it wasn't allowed in the store! She was very surprised, but I explained that it was a public health law and she said thank you very much and promptly returned the dog and the bed to her car (and thankfully it wasn't a hot day).
 
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She really had been working with me that day and I just didn't have the heart to make her wait in the car for me.
There's the problem in a nutshell. 'Heart' doesn't enter into my decision to leave Tonka in the car. He will wait where I leave him. He doesn't care.

I might not have taken 'working' as an answer. If she doesn't have a vest on, and you tell me she is 'working'... I would probably laff. If she does have a vest on, I might ask what she is working at... and be looking carefully at the wording on her vest to see if it matches.

I despise scammers... out to get 'just a little more' for themselves.

Not you, Lily... just people in general.
 

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This is a topic that infuriates me as well. I had two service dogs, my Tpoo Carmel that died and Branna, before she reacted to the rabies vaccine and had to retire. The amount of work that went into training them was rigorous when they passed their Public Access Test it was a blessing and relief. To see people with ill mannered dogs in stores make me so mad! They didn't put their blood, sweat, and tears into training their dog, they just paid a few bucks and BAM! A miraculous service dog! Errrrrrrr ???!

Now I really don't care if they are a true service dog as long as the dog is well mannered and trained properly. that is not my business and that is what the law is their to protect, but if they are not trained and the handler is not in control that is an entirely different thing.

I once saw a woman with a pomerainian in Target when I was with Carmel. She had the dog on a flexi lead, I can understand that in some cases, but the thing that really pissed me off was she let the dog wander and used the entire length of the flexi lead to explore. He then proceeded to lift his leg on each end of the isle that they passed!!! I was so pissed! I really wished I had the guts to confront her or explain to a manager that they actually did have the right to kick her out.

The question I have is what do you do/ say to people with obvious fake service dogs? I would appreciate any advice.
 

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Sigh. If only there was a simple solution... I have a service dog with a vest and multiple large patches and his state issued Service Dog tag, and I limp (worse on some days than others). I trained service dog teams for several years, so am rather picky about the dog's behavior in public. And yet, I have endured questioning that ranged from merely nosy to very illegal. Most days I try to be as civil as possible while educating the public about proper service dog etiquette. On some bad days, when the explanation does not work, I have just walked away... and have been followed and harassed. It was and is so very frustrating.
 

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+(...) They didn't put their blood, sweat, and tears into training their dog, they just paid a few bucks and BAM! A miraculous service dog! Errrrrrrr ???! (...)
HOW can that be LEGAL?!
 

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Sigh. If only there was a simple solution... I have a service dog with a vest and multiple large patches and his state issued Service Dog tag, and I limp (worse on some days than others). I trained service dog teams for several years, so am rather picky about the dog's behavior in public. And yet, I have endured questioning that ranged from merely nosy to very illegal. Most days I try to be as civil as possible while educating the public about proper service dog etiquette. On some bad days, when the explanation does not work, I have just walked away... and have been followed and harassed. It was and is so very frustrating.
If I saw a limping woman with a well-behaved dog in an accredited looking vest the only thing I would say to you is 'hello'. You could easily be civil, say 'hi' back... and that would be it! :)

It's perfectly allowable here for me to take Tonka into a hardware store and pet food stores. But mostly if people go to pet him he ducks his head. So the snobby twit gets to stay in the car! ;)
 

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I wonder, who thought it was a good idea that officially recognised service dogs don't need official service ID? "Och sure, this will never become a big stinking problem! A country half full of people who'll defend any selfish jerk move with 'freedom' would never abuse this!" :crazy:

I get that people in need of service dogs should not be shouldered with more responsibility, but it's outright ridiculous that unscrupulous people can waltz right anywhere with their dogs because no one on the premises has the right to question if their dog truly is a service dog.

And if I've misunderstood something, feel free to correct me. I find it sometimes hard to fully grasp some things because in many ways, animal ownership culture is so different in the US.

I've actually thought a lot about this same concept. Why isn't there a registration agency for service animals? I personally believe that the answer lies somewhere between "education" and "dishonesty". Education being, teaching "store" employees what to look for, a certain vest, or patch, a specific tag... And dishonesty being that it is just too easy to fake such a thing. Of course the fact that people with disabilities don't want (and shouldn't have to) explain and prove themselves.

Already a majority of workers don't understand what constitutes a service animal. (Honestly, I'm not so sure I understand myself.) or what the difference is between a Service Animal and a Therapy Animal and most people don't understand that the 2 aren't the same thing and don't have the same rights (right?)

Personally, I believe that either animals are allowed or they aren't. And I feel that if there are places that need to include service animals then there needs to be a governing agency and there needs to be some way to prove the animal belongs (wrong word) to the governing agency.
 

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In the UK service dogs have to be accredited by a recognised organisation, ot they are not service dogs. Psychiatric support dogs are not yet recognised, for example. I can see the pros and cons of both approaches, but it should not be beyond the powers of human ingenuity to come up with a solution, I would think - especially with microchips and smart phones and all the other technology we have, a smart tag linked to the microchip and readable by a hand held scanner, perhaps?
 
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In the UK service dogs have to be accredited by a recognised organisation, ot they are not service dogs. Psychiatric support dogs are not yet recognised, for example. I can see the pros and cons of both approaches, but it should not be beyond the powers of human ingenuity to come up with a solution, I would think - especially with microchips and smart phones and all the other technology we have, a smart tag linked to the microchip and readable by a hand held scanner, perhaps?
I'd think since many of the places where dogs are entering already have scanners that scan bar codes, like grocery stores and restaurants, it wouldn't be difficult to implement a registry where the dog would be issued a tag that could be scanned by the scanner already in place without having to buy separate equipment. Or have a card that can be swiped like a credit or debit card. I wouldn't have an issue with showing a photo ID (driver's license or other formal ID) to match with the card as a protection against a lost or stolen tag/ card being used by someone else.
 

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There's the problem in a nutshell. 'Heart' doesn't enter into my decision to leave Tonka in the car. He will wait where I leave him. He doesn't care.

I might not have taken 'working' as an answer. If she doesn't have a vest on, and you tell me she is 'working'... I would probably laff. If she does have a vest on, I might ask what she is working at... and be looking carefully at the wording on her vest to see if it matches.

I despise scammers... out to get 'just a little more' for themselves.

Not you, Lily... just people in general.
I was really being an anthropomorphic softie that day! She would have waited no problem, but I had already had her wait an hour while I gave a puppy lesson to an incompletely immunized GSD.
 
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Remington has passed public access tests, and is a wonderful service dog. He alerts me to changes in my BG, and I could not take long drives without him, nor could I live alone without him. I carry an insurance policy on him as well. I have been asked all sorts of questions. Some are legal, such as is he working? When we traveled to TN back in 2012, I found that some places were really good with service dogs and know the laws, while others did not. One store stopped us, and asked what he did, why it was necessary to have him and wanted me to check my BG in front of him (being the store manager). We have also had great experiences, there is a restaurant in Austin that is close to my Mom's house that we eat at when I go home. Their manager sat down at the table and talked to us and asked questions the first time I took him in, but always prefaced it with "you don't have to answer, but I am curious". It was nice to educate someone who really did want to know. I do carry ADA cards, with the law printed on it, and hand them out if I am given problems. I think as a whole people are curious and sometimes don't know how to ask without it coming out wrong....

As for people that use vests on untrained dogs... well I have to think that there is a bit of a psychological problem there... Why would you fake a disability? I love Remington, but would rather not worry about my health than take him everywhere...
 

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I've recently had to educate myself as thoroughly as possible in all of this, as most of you know, Quinn is in training and already working as my ESA & Service Dog, and splitting my time between the US & Canada I've had to learn the way both systems work. There are a lot of flaws in all the ways that are being used, and personally so far I don't see a "best" way each has their pros and cons.

For the US:
1) Emotional Support Animals - Requires no certification, or formal/informal training, only a recommendation from a Doctor. Limited rights, but supported and defined by the ADA. Status allows having a dog in residences that normally do not allow them, and air travel accompaniment. If the dog is destructive or dangerous, the special allowances can and should be revoked.
2) Service Dog, Assistance Animal - Requires no certification, or formal training. Should have a recommendation from a Doctor, and MUST provide tangible work that enables the person to function in the environment. No requirement for a harness, obvious identification patches, or ID Card. Must be well behaved, non reactive, non destructive, and non-dangerous to other people or dogs. Special privileges may be denied if the handler is incapable of keeping control, or impacting other patrons in a tangible negative health or safety aspect. Business owners may ask if the dog is working, and what work they perform.

Canada:
1) Service dogs must be formally trained, and certified in order to be recognized as working animals. The behavior requirements are the same, and in general (though I'm still learning) the questions asked of you are the same.
2) ESA's are not recognized within Canada.

Other:
1) Therapy Dogs - This term confuses a lot of people. This actually is defined as a working team of a dog and a handler. The handler is NOT the subject receiving therapy, but works with the dog to interact with patients. The team is certified for working together with medical & psychiatric patients.

But as you can see from the above, its much different and in Canada the official nature is very good in the sense of at least there is something concrete. The down side of course is the increased cost due to training and certification, and these do not take into account the type of service dog being trained/certified. In Canada as well, I have to say that from my own experience the people in stores are much better trained than here in California as to what is allowed and isn't. But then again, pet dogs are not allowed very many places in BC, Canada, as they are here in California so its just very different culturally when it comes to dogs. In the US, its nice that we have looseness and a preservation of the broad and general rights to enabling the disabled via service animals, but the frustration of all the imposters/fakers/poorly trained dogs out there is the dark side to that. In my situation, it has been great in that I'm able to do most of the training myself, acclimate Quinn to working as she's growing up, and not required to walk around with official designation of HEY HERE"S MY SERVICE DOG! which can be a bit uncomfortable for someone like me who's new to all this, and sometimes a bit intimidated by having the public markings and having an invisible disability.

But anyways, just some of my thoughts.

Dan :)
 

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dan, in the u.s. i actually think the looseness of the regs re service animals comes down to two issues driving the legislation: first, a genuine belief that persons with disabilities should be treated with dignity and not have to be subjected to excessive scrutiny in living their lives. second, i think what would be required in the way of a regulatory mechanism could be far more costly to get up and running and maintain. if you say certification is a requirement, who does the certifying? and given usg bureaucracies, how long is it going to take someone disabled to get through the obstacle course? in france - at least years ago - there was a requirement that before getting a driver's license, one had to have formal training. of course this created a niche market for driver education schools that seemed to take an inordinately long (and probably costly) time to achieve the goal of producing a trained driver. (and anyone who has driven in france can testify there are still quite a few maniacs on the road.)

what the ada did was put the onus on businesses and other places of public accommodation to learn the law and administer it. there is no service vest/id requirement. there is a requirement that the owner be disabled as defined under the ada and that the dog perform a service clearly related to the disability. both owner and dog can be removed from the premises for disruptive behavior, but cannot be denied initial access. as annoyed as i get with the worst of the false claimants (and we have had to deal with a few in my condo association - including facing them down over threatened extortionate lawsuits), i think it actually makes sense (for now) for the law to be administered at the grassroots level. certificates, like vests, can be faked. but unlike the man-on-the-street, retailers have a vested (no pun intended) interest in learning the law and in learning to treat the disabled with dignity. that's a start.
 

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dan, in the u.s. i actually think the looseness of the regs re service animals comes down to two issues driving the legislation: first, a genuine belief that persons with disabilities should be treated with dignity and not have to be subjected to excessive scrutiny in living their lives. second, i think what would be required in the way of a regulatory mechanism could be far more costly to get up and running and maintain. if you say certification is a requirement, who does the certifying? and given usg bureaucracies, how long is it going to take someone disabled to get through the obstacle course? in france - at least years ago - there was a requirement that before getting a driver's license, one had to have formal training. of course this created a niche market for driver education schools that seemed to take an inordinately long (and probably costly) time to achieve the goal of producing a trained driver. (and anyone who has driven in france can testify there are still quite a few maniacs on the road.)

what the ada did was put the onus on businesses and other places of public accommodation to learn the law and administer it. there is no service vest/id requirement. there is a requirement that the owner be disabled as defined under the ada and that the dog perform a service clearly related to the disability. both owner and dog can be removed from the premises for disruptive behavior, but cannot be denied initial access. as annoyed as i get with the worst of the false claimants (and we have had to deal with a few in my condo association - including facing them down over threatened extortionate lawsuits), i think it actually makes sense (for now) for the law to be administered at the grassroots level. certificates, like vests, can be faked. but unlike the man-on-the-street, retailers have a vested (no pun intended) interest in learning the law and in learning to treat the disabled with dignity. that's a start.
I totally agree with you Patk on the points you brought up. Administration, and the way the US Government works is a very good point in why and how the laws were constructed and put into use. I do have to say that from my perspective, I much prefer the way we have it in the US with the ADA, even with its pitfalls and dark side. It really truly does secure the rights of the disabled from a legal aspect, even if its as muddy & grey and subject to abuse as it is.

And when it comes to the Vests, Harnesses, Patches, ID Cards, etc. I'm really torn by this too. In one sense its great they are easy to get, and a reasonable price, but the fact that they are abused so commonly, and are basically informally a requirement now is a real drag. If you don't have visible designation as Service Dog, you are going to get hassled. If you do, there's still a good chance but not as likely. So it reinforces legitimate people using them, as well as those abusing the laws and privileges. When it comes to privacy for someone with an invisible disability, it makes it an even harder decision.

Also of note, being a US Citizen, while in Canada they respect our ADA laws. It is not required, but it is respected. So this means that if you fly with your ESA dog to Canada, the hotel you are staying in is not required to host you with your dog, but is likely to accommodate you. When it comes to airlines and flying with ESA's all direct US flights in and out must respect ADA law. I've heard people have had issues with connecting flights though internationally. When it comes to Service Dogs, in Canada they do not require me to be officially certified, and they respect the ADA. If I was a legal permanent full time resident though, that would be another story.

Live and learn though :)

Dan
 

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I agree completely even with my confession of having recently told a person at Lowes that Lily was "working." I was careful not to say she was a service dog and let the woman draw her own conclusion, which honestly was probably that she was a service dog. She really had been working with me that day and I just didn't have the heart to make her wait in the car for me. also every other person who works at this particular Lowes has always made her feel welcome with no explanation needed. On hot days I have spoken with employees there who have said something along the lines of "we are so glad when we see people bring their dogs in on hot days."

I would never "fake" taking her places like planes, restaurants, etc under the guise of her being a service dog. Just like with a handicapped license plate for parking, faking it can be cruel to those who really need that accommodation. Having watched many clearly able bodied people park in handicapped spaces over the years while also watching my own dad (he was a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart decorated veteran of the Pacific theatre in WWII, now buried in the sacred ground at Arlington) struggle to get in and out of his car makes that a hot button issue for me and the service dog problem is an exact parallel.

I once had to explain to a woman who had put a dog bed into a supermarket shopping cart for her little poo something that unless the dog was a working service dog it wasn't allowed in the store! She was very surprised, but I explained that it was a public health law and she said thank you very much and promptly returned the dog and the bed to her car (and thankfully it wasn't a hot day).
Lowe’s is pet friendly. Home Depot is not.
 

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I agree completely even with my confession of having recently told a person at Lowes that Lily was "working." I was careful not to say she was a service dog and let the woman draw her own conclusion, which honestly was probably that she was a service dog. She really had been working with me that day and I just didn't have the heart to make her wait in the car for me. also every other person who works at this particular Lowes has always made her feel welcome with no explanation needed. On hot days I have spoken with employees there who have said something along the lines of "we are so glad when we see people bring their dogs in on hot days."

I would never "fake" taking her places like planes, restaurants, etc under the guise of her being a service dog. Just like with a handicapped license plate for parking, faking it can be cruel to those who really need that accommodation. Having watched many clearly able bodied people park in handicapped spaces over the years while also watching my own dad (he was a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart decorated veteran of the Pacific theatre in WWII, now buried in the sacred ground at Arlington) struggle to get in and out of his car makes that a hot button issue for me and the service dog problem is an exact parallel.

I once had to explain to a woman who had put a dog bed into a supermarket shopping cart for her little poo something that unless the dog was a working service dog it wasn't allowed in the store! She was very surprised, but I explained that it was a public health law and she said thank you very much and promptly returned the dog and the bed to her car (and thankfully it wasn't a hot day).
Lowe’s is pet friendly. Home Depot is not.
 
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