Some People May Not Be Taking “Service Dogs” Seriously
The proliferation of online sites that sell service dog vests and the growing number of people exaggerating disabilities to have their pets nearby has created an explosion of service dog fraud. The deception is hurting the people who really need the help of service dogs such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. Training a service dog typically costs thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. There are also some dog trainers who offer instruction on how owners can train their own animals.
Veronica Morris , who suffers from bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says, “I would not be here today if it weren’t for my service dog, I could only go to work and home. I couldn’t go to the grocery store. It was too stressful. Too scary.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits business owners from banning service animals. However, suspicious owners can question the animal’s qualifications and whether they are really a service dog? However, the business owner cannot legally ask the dog owners for ID or certification, proof of training, a demonstration of the dog’s ability, or what kind of disability the owner has. However, says trainer Morgance Ellis, if the animal is misbehaving, a business does have the right to ask the owner to remove the animal from the premises, although the owner must be allowed to come back without the animal.
Attorney Jessica Peck believes fraudulent service dogs aren’t trained to be as well-behaved as real service animals, which is another way “abuse of the system hurts a lot of people. The problem now of course is people are saying: Enough; no more dogs.”
Morris agrees. “The dogs that are disruptive—that bark, and pee, and poop and bite and stuff like that—really damages our ability to go out in public and have goodwill from the public.”
To say that service dogs are important to people with real disabilities is a minor understatement. Let’s try to clean this problem up!