Lately, the issue of “fake” service dogs has been a hot-button topic of conversation.
One of the most controversial points of the argument is that the laws in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), created to help those with disabilities, enable dishonest people to bring untrained dogs into public under the guise of being a “service dog.”
The ADA aims to protect people with disabilities from discrimination by guarding their privacy. In the case of service animals, store and restaurant employees cannot legally request documentation, ask about the person’s disability, or ask to see the dog demonstrate its trained “task.” They can only ask whether a dog is a service animal and what tasks it is trained to perform (but again, they cannot ask to see it). What’s more, service animals are not legally required to be identified as such by wearing marked harnesses, vests, or collars.
Sadly, selfish people who want to take their pets into public take advantage of these laws because, quite frankly, they can get away with it. However, this can cause major problems for those who actually depend on their service animals every single day. You may have heard stories of dogs posing as service animals who’ve distracted or even attacked other dogs or people in places where normally pets don’t belong.
In a Facebook post that has been shared over 14,000 times, one woman details the story of a family with a son who has autism, and the damage that “fake service dogs” have caused. The post, by Elise Lalor, reads:
Your untrained emotional support dog just stole something valuable from a young boy. I am so upset at you.
Yesterday one of our Autism Service Dog teams was turned away from a restaurant while they waited for their table.
The reason was restaurant staff gave because previous “service dogs” and “emotional Support animals” have nipped at, and scared the restaurant staff.
The family with the service dog we trained, who have passed our initial public access test in 2015 and recertified in 2017 were asked to leave. Is this legal? No, but the family was embarrassed, the child who needed the service dog was upset and escalating because of being asked to leave, and it was not the time to fight.
The boy who needs the Service Dog is distraught and feels it was his fault the family was asked to leave. He now no longer wants to go anywhere with his service dog for fear of being asked to leave, and having attention put on him. I can not even begin to tell you how far back this scenario can set back a child on the spectrum.
So when you put a vest on your dog so you can take him out to dinner and think “it is not hurting anyone, what is the big deal” think again. This is YOUR fault. YOU! The one with the untrained ESA that nips at people, the one with the “Service dog” vest you got off an on line catalog. STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT.
Your selfishness just destroyed the confidence it took a little boy with the help of his Service Dog years to overcome.
It’s a powerful message, and a perspective that many people may not have considered.
What do you think about the issue of “fake service dogs”?