The Fake Service Dog: a Concerning Trend

“Do you train service dogs?” the voice on the other end of the phone asked. It’s become a more common question over the past few years, as more owners are learning that they can owner-train their own service dogs instead of buying a dog from an organization.

“Absolutely! We can help you with all of the basic training and begin doing some skills work, then connect you with a local service dog organization to assist with your final public access training. What sort of assistance skills are you hoping to teach your dog?”

“Oh, I don’t actually need my dog to do anything. I’m not really disabled. I just want to be able to take her with me to the grocery store and bring her on planes without paying the extra fees.”

There are plenty of dog-friendly places (like this Dairy Queen's patio eating area) where you can bring your well-trained pet. Stick to these locations, and don't try to pass your pet off as a service dog.

There are plenty of dog-friendly places (like this Dairy Queen’s patio eating area) where you can bring your well-trained pet. Stick to these locations, and don’t try to pass your pet off as a service dog.

“I’m sorry, but we can’t legally help you train your dog as a fake service dog. Only dogs who are trained to assist their disabled owner in day-to-day tasks are allowed into grocery stores or on planes like you described. Lying about the status of your pet dog is a serious crime, and I wouldn’t recommend that you pursue it. If you’d like some help polishing up your dog’s manners or even registering her as a therapy dog so you can volunteer at hospitals and nursing homes, we’re happy to assist with that.”

“Oh. Are you sure it’s illegal? Because my friend paid a trainer to certify her dog as a service dog, and she doesn’t have any sort of disability. My dog’s really well-behaved, and I would like to take her everywhere with me.”

And that’s the rub of it… there are unethical trainers and organizations out there that do just this, “certifying” fake service dogs so that people can bring their pets with them everywhere. If this idea appeals to you, I would strongly advise you to think twice. Lying about your dog’s status is a serious offense, and can not only result in legal troubles for you but also makes it that much harder for the people who really need their legitimate service dogs.

So, what is a service dog? Service dogs are trained animals who assist people with disabilities in their day-to-day lives. It’s not okay to ask what disability the person with a dog has, but you can legally ask that person two questions. First, you can ask them whether the dog with them is a trained service dog. If the dog isn’t, it can be asked to leave your business or workplace and has no more rights to be there than any other pet dog. If the dog is a true service dog but is disruptive or dirty to the point of posing a safety or health hazard, even a trained service dog can be asked to leave. A dog who eliminates on the grocery store floor, for example, does not have to be allowed to continue assisting his or her owner in that store. Asking a service dog and his or her handler to leave your business because you’re not comfortable with dogs, though, would not be appropriate. Service dogs are allowed to enter businesses unless and until something truly unacceptable happens.

You can also ask what tasks the dog is trained to perform for the owner. True service dogs perform trained behaviors that help their owners navigate daily life. These tasks will vary depending on the disability the person lives with, but may include retrieving items, opening doors, bracing or pulling the owner, alerting to sounds or strangers approaching, letting the owner know about that person’s impending seizures or migraines, pressing buttons, forestalling panic attacks or flashbacks, and many more. True service dogs are trained to perform these specialized skills so that their owners can enjoy more freedom and a better quality of life. If you see a service dog or a service dog in training out in public, it’s important to treat that animal much as you would treat an inanimate piece of medical equipment such as an oxygen tank or wheelchair. Don’t try to interact with or distract the dog unless you’re specifically invited to do so, and respect the right of the owner to have their medically-necessary dog with them unmolested. Give the dog space from children or other animals so that he or she can focus on his work, which is often very physically and mentally demanding for these special dogs.

But what if you truly do have a disability that would be helped with the assistance of a service dog? Can you train your pet dog to perform service tasks? It’s possible, but it depends a great deal on your dog. Many dogs simply do not have the physical structure (solid hips, elbows, eyes, heart, etc.) or mental soundness (eagerness and ability to learn; friendliness towards people of all ages and sizes and to all animals; solidness in the face of noises, traffic, crowds, food, and other distractions; and ability to focus for what may be hours at a time without getting distracted). Take an honest look at your dog or better yet, have an experienced trainer evaluate your dog for you to make sure that what you’re asking is reasonable and fair to your dog. Asking a dog who’s not cut out for service work to take on those tasks is incredibly cruel. Remember, even dogs who are specifically bred and trained for service work sometimes flunk out of their programs. If your dog was not acquired with this purpose in mind, it’s important that you honestly evaluate whether you should be asking him or her to take on this responsibility before you start.

But what if you don’t have a disability? What if you just want to bring your pet with you? There are plenty of pet-friendly stores that will happily accept your well-trained companion. Check around your area, and give your business to the stores that welcome your dog. Many home improvement stores, bookstores, banks, craft stores, hobby shops, and clothing stores will allow well-behaved dogs if you ask politely. Stores and restaurants that prepare or sell food often aren’t able to be quite so welcoming due to health code policies, but many of these as well as coffee shops and bars will allow your polite pooch to accompany you where outdoor seating is available.

You can also consider training your friendly, stable adult dog to become a therapy dog. Therapy dogs do not have the same rights as service dogs, but trained teams who have passed a test and become registered with a national therapy dog organization are permitted to volunteer at hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, and other places where a connection with a friendly animal can be helpful to others. Therapy visits can be hugely rewarding for dogs and their handlers, and there’s always a big need for these specially trained dogs to spread some comfort and cheer to those who could use it most.

After several more questions to see whether I would consider bending my rules for her, the caller hung up, frustrated. I wasn’t willing to say her dog was a service dog for any price, nor would I recommend anyone who might. I reiterated how unethical passing a pet dog off as a service animal was, and hoped that the caller got the message. Faking your need for a service dog is every bit as taboo as taking a handicapped parking space when you don’t need it.

Have you ever heard of someone passing their pet dog off as a service dog? Did you call them on their behavior? Please share your stories and tips in the comments section below, and consider sharing this blog post with your friends to spread the word about the fake service dog problem. Enjoy your dog in and at the places where it’s appropriate for you to do so, and be thankful that you have the independence not to need him for more specialized assistance. Pet dogs have a very important job too, and respecting your dog’s place is a great way to respect the amazing individual he is.

108 responses to “The Fake Service Dog: a Concerning Trend

  1. I hear this happen all the time in German shepherd and pit bull circles I’m familiar with. The main problem I see though is that people are searching for a way to get their pets into housing they would otherwise be banned from. Many people will lament that they cannot find an apartment, for example, that allows German shepherds or pits or Akitas or…name your breed. If the dog is a service dog, the housing complex cannot refuse the dog entry. So people will try and pass their dog off as a service dog and enjoy the fact that the complex cannot ask what the person’s disability is. I, for my part, suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, and have terrible nightmares and panic attacks. When my ex and I split, I did consider getting my German shepherd Shelby certified as a service dog for this issue so I could have the freedom to move. Shelby has an uncanny ability to wake me up from night terrors, for example. However, after careful consideration and discussion with my trainer, I decided against it and opted to leave Shelby with my ex, despite the fact that it broke my heart. Shelby has fear and anxiety issues of her own, and she just doesn’t have it in her to be a “true” service dog (in that she isn’t able to deal with people, so even if I had her in my home to help me with my nightmares, I couldn’t take her in public to help me with my panic attacks). I didn’t want to fake it for the reason you mentioned: People really need their service dogs and if too many people who don’t have a disability abuse it, the people who struggle from disabilities will suffer.

  2. Thank you for writing this. As much as I adore dogs, I’m really bothered by people who abuse this privilege for their selfish purposes. Their often-poorly-trained dogs risk ruining access for dogs who are legitimately providing a service. I’ve seen yappy (clearly not a service dog) at restaurants and heard people brag about how they’ve used their “fake” service dog status to get into apartments which don’t usually allow pets. I’d like to take my dog with me everywhere too. Too bad I’m a responsible and honest person, huh?

  3. One of the problems is the lack of a federal / standardized agency for testing dogs, their handlers AND the trainers of these dogs. Here in Tucson, there are 2 agencies that train “service dogs”. Some use volunteers &/or paid staff. Both have their own criteria, both “certify” their own dogs, and have their own vest designs, etc. (I don’t know if there is a criteria for assessing trainer knowledge.) Until there is a place where ‘the buck stops’, this honor system way of using service dogs is going to continue to fail. The worst part of course, is the folks that truly need these dogs are becoming the losers.
    Ironically, many of the therapy dog groups do a better job.

    • The problem with the vast majority of agencies that train and certify service dogs, charge astronomical fees for the dogs. Most disabled people can’t work and depend on ssi/ssdi and cant afford to pay for a trained service dog or certification.

    • Diane Alexander

      I work for Handi-Dogs in Tucson. We are a non-profit 501 ( c )( 3 ) founded in 1973, We are one of the oldest service dog training organizations in the US. Our “owner trained” model is unique. Our program uses professional trainers who work with clients in classroom, home and field settings. Volunteers work in the classroom with clients under the direction of the trainers.We follow the guidelines established by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) which is the “gold” standard for service dog training. We offer financial aid for our training program.
      Part of our mission is education and outreach so that the community understands the important role that service dogs play in the lives of people with disabilities and chronic health conditions.

  4. This has become an issue in Las Vegas as well. People are getting poorly trained dogs documented as “service dogs.” I had someone tell me about web sites that provide “certification” for $100 (with no training to accompany the certification). The dogs cause problems in the businesses they go into, making businesses less friendly towards real service dogs. I’ve heard of one case where a fake service dog tried to interact with a real service dog. The fake service dog apparently became aggressive toward the real service dog.

    I think it is a very selfish and bad idea to pass off your dog as a service dog, unless they actually are one. Like Carey said, there needs to be standards for service dogs, at the very least at the state level, with appropriate certification on the vests worn by the dogs.

  5. This is an illuminating post! I didn’t know much about the requirements for service dogs before. I agree that it is selfish of people who try to pass off their pets as “service animals” if they don’t really need that kind of service. I work in emergency management and this could be a problem if people needed to access shelters. I’m sympathetic to wanting to take a pet everywhere (especially in an emergency situation), but it presents a risk if they aren’t properly trained.

    I was at a farm (that hosted a corn maze, pumpkin patch, etc for October) the other day and a woman was bawling the manager out because he had the audacity to ask if she had certificates for her “service dogs” (two chiweenies), because non-service dogs were not allowed on the farm. I didn’t know the full details, but it didn’t FEEL legitimate and her sense of entitlement and the way she spoke to him made me very uncomfortable.

    • It is actually a violation of federal law for a business to require any form of certificate or “proof” that a dog is a service dog. Which doesn’t mean those dogs were legitimate, but the business was absolutely in the wrong for asking for certificates. There is no valid certification in the US.

  6. I absolutely don’t understand this desire to have your untrained animal designated as a service dog. Who in the world wants to take their pet everywhere they go? I sure don’t. It’s like with my kids – I love ’em to pieces but dang, I’m sure glad to get away for an hour every once in a while.

    Or is this some kind of weird “prestige” thing?

    • Exactly! My daughter does have a service dog and it’s a lot of work bringing him everywhere, like having another child. And when we run into fakes, it can be dangerous for him.

      • It’s really interesting to see you guys mention that, because that’s been my experience too, to an extent. I work for an organization that does service dog training for veterans, and since I’m slightly more knowledgable than the average person now about training dogs for service, I had it in mind to train my recently adopted dog to be a service dog for me. I’ve been working on taking her out to some public places and into a few of my usual haunts (like coffee shops where they know me and aren’t likely to be confrontational about me bringing the dog in), with her in a “service dog in training” vest, ready to whisk her out at the first sign of trouble, since she’s only just beginning her training.

        I was hoping to train her for tasks to assist me in public with a pretty serious anxiety disorder… but the more I worked on it the more I found that trying to do the work with her was only making me more anxious, not less. I had to worry not just about my own state of mind but about my dog’s as well, I had to worry about how businesses and patrons would react to her, the attention that comes from having a dog with you all the time… and since my anxiety is largely social and also results in endless worrying, I was only making myself worse. I finally decided to give up on training her for that work, because I don’t think she’d provide the relief that I was hoping for, and I’m not sure she’s turning out to have the constitution for it. (Though she did really well with everything I asked from her, she’s displayed just enough nervousness about all the new environments and situations that I think asking her to go everywhere with me all day would just be way too much for her.) I was also getting way too goal-oriented with her and I think pushing her harder with training than I should have… I’ve greatly reduced the frequency of our public trips now, mainly making our outings to places where we can take a long walk and have a good time, and I’m enrolling her in a few courses for trick training and other fun stuff I think she’ll enjoy, and we’ve got a much more harmonious and much less pressure-filled relationship already. :D

  7. I use a service dog for multpile disabilities. Everyone talks about having certification and having an ID, but no other citizen has to show an ID card or certification card to walk into a business, so why should I because I’m walking (or wheeling depending on my abilities that day) in with my dog? What about people who can’t afford to pay for the certification if it passes? It segregated us even more and makes us feel even less like equal citizens. Yes, right now I get gawked at, pointed at, my dog gets pet without permission, and people ask me rude questions about what’s “wrong” with me that I need a dog to help me daily. But at least I don’t have to show an ID every time I want to walk into every single business I want to frequent.

    • Thanks for saying this Lisa… I don’t want to have people gawk and ask questions

    • Yes Lisa I understand the trouble if you have to carry certification or ID but we have to have ID to drive car and be on the road. If there is some kind of ID maybe that would eliminate the ones passing there dogs off as being service dogs. With places that sell food or groceries there are health codes that need to be addressed. I feel there should be some form of clearly seen ID to identify a true service dog so people don’t have to ask.
      I had my dog at a local carnival with saddle bags on and I heard people say that she was a service dog.

  8. I have multiple disabilities that my dog assists me with as well. And I agree with Lisa, in that I do not want to be required to show ID every time I want to enter a business to be “allowed”, when every other person enters without having to show ID. (even other people with disabilities that choose to use hearing aids, or a cane can enter without showing ID because the chose a medical device that was not a hearing dog, or balance dog).
    I also do not want a teenager being paid minimum wage deciding which ID is legit, and which is not. Because I guarantee there will be just as many “fake” IDs as there are “fake” service dogs. Then there will be more requirements, more rules, and we will be loosing more rights, and freedoms to stop the “fake” ID cards.

  9. So even if there is one federally mandated criteria, it would take that easy to “fake” ID card to get passed all the criteria. And the “criteria” just means my service dog will cost more, and take longer to get; leaving the people with “fake” IDs
    to come and go while we sit at home waiting for our turn to get a dog that meets the federal criteria.

  10. I get this exact same request – at least every month or two. This is an excellent article – I especially like the advice to treat any service dog the same as one would medical equipment – because that is what they are! I would add that to falsely represent a dog as a service dog is a FEDERAL CRIME – i think punishment is up to $5000 and may include jail time. Thank you for this article.

  11. Federal law directs people to ask questions about the dog, not the person with a disability. “is your dog a service dog?” “what specific tasks does your dog provide for you?” Federal law also says that you can only question a person if it isn’t apparent that the dog is a service dog (i.e. a guide dog for the blind is obviously a service dog given the harness he or she wears). What if there were an obvious way to identify legitimate service dogs; a state or federal seal on a service dog vest, collar, or harness? That would eliminate the need to ask questions of many service dog users and help identify those not recognized by the entity. In many states, all dogs are required to be licensed, service dog or otherwise. If that process were a bit more involved, could it not help clarify the issue? Obviously, if a dog weren’t wearing the identifying equipment, the two questions outlined in the ADA would still assist business owners in determining if they are required to grant access to the dog. Do you think this would weed out a significant number of illegitimate service dogs and their owners from the public eye.

    Conversely, what if there was a special license for trainers of service dogs? (like there is a special license to be a doctor, accountant, etc to protect the public from snake oil salesmen)? would that help eliminate the issues?

    • Because when I am walking down the street, and my dog has her harness, people have the gall to ask me tons of personal questions about my dog and my disability (which isn’t easy to see). Sometimes, I want to be able to walk around most places without a badge that says DISABLED on my forehead (or dog).

      Also, one of my dogs tasks is much easier to her without a harness on…

    • Requiring a special license for service dog trainers might result in undue hardship on a person with a disability who needs a service dog. What if there are no licensed trainers in their area? What if they have the ability to train their dog themselves?

    • Brian you can buy fake ids and whatever the dogs wear. I know someone who is NOT disabled and a multi-millionaire and has both. He flies frequently first class with his dog. Where do you turn them in?

    • The only reason a state law really helps you is if your service dog is certified and you want to press criminal charges against a person or business.

      Otherwise 5he federal law supercedes the state laws.

  12. I agree with Inness Pryor, true service dog owners are very proud to show off their dogs certifications. I would be very suspicious of a person not willing to show their service dog certification. I am in the process of training a Parsons Russell Terrier as a diabetic alert service dog. She is ready to test for certification now but I am waiting until April to make sure she is 100%. I do enjoy taking her to places with a lot of distractions, but she is always in her vest with her I.D. card attached.

    • “True service dog owners” are NOT proud to show off their certificates. One, because there is no valid certification in the US, so actual service dogs have nothing of the sort to show. Two, because those with disabilities don’t want and aren’t legally required to carry any kind of proof around with them, no more than a person with a cane is required to show any kind of certificate saying they need a cane. My medical and disability issues are between me and my doctor, and are absolutely none of your business, and none of the business of anyone who wishes to ignore federal law by requiring a “certificate” of any kind.

      • Absolutely, and what about our veterans with PTSD? It doesn’t show, but just the act of being singled out and asked for ID could cause a major mental health issue for this vet. Is it really worth it if the animal isn’t causing an issue?

    • Not every service dog is certified. So when people that do have certification for their dogs go around flashing a certification card it only makes it more difficult for people who’s dogs are not certified.

      Businesses begin to expect that they can ask for certification and deny a disabled person because they dont have one.

    • Certification is NOT required. People are allowed to train their own service dogs. That does not make them any more or less of a service dog. One can easily buy a service dog “certificate” for their pet online. Does that make that untrained pet a service dog because that person “bought” a service dog certificate to wave around? NO. It is the training that makes a service dog a service dog. Only a disabled person can bring a service dog into public places with them. Real service dogs are trained to perform a task or work that assists that specific disabled person live a more independent life. A piece of paper can’t give that to a dog and a person.

    • I have a service animal, and I even went through the trouble to register him with the state of NC. Furthermore, my trainer offered me an ID card for my dog. Yet, I will still flash a manager a copy of the federal law over pulling out my dogs paperwork. No paperwork is necessarily “legitimate,” and I’ve even been told that the paperwork I have on my dog is fake! So you’ll come to find that many handlers will refuse to show their papers because often their papers are denied anyway.

  13. In the US, there is NO valid certification. All certifications shown to “prove” that a dog is a service dog are invalid, and given to anyone who is willing to pay for one online. It is more useless than a Continental Kennel Club registered dog. True service dog handlers know that certifications are not required to be shown, and don’t want to be stopped a million times due to their disability. I absolutely will refuse to show any certification on my service dog, because there isn’t any. The only times I would be required to show any proof of disability would be when asking for a reasonable accommodation from housing or a workplace, or when flying with a dog whose immediate purpose as a service dog is not clear. For which I have a doctor’s note. But I certainly will not carry that note around and show it to whoever asks, because it is my private business, not yours, and not the business of any store or restaurant I might go into. I will answer the questions set out in the ADA, and nothing more.

  14. A trainer in my area is “certifying” dogs as service dogs. For a fee of $150, you get a certificate and a dog tag.

  15. My dog alerts me to blood sugar changes. He learned to do that on his own; there is a breath and urine change that he recognizes. He’s a Sheltie and they are sensitive to their owners and naturally stand-offish w/ strangers. I don’t want to take him everywhere (no need in stores and such, usually) and i see people who do, but, I do want to take him on plane trips etc where I will be gone awhile. I have a DR note for that. The fake IDs are everywhere and such a sad scam!

    • UrbanCollieChick

      You are lucky to have such a great dog. ANd your point brings up my one pet peeve. Planes. The world is NOT as open to dogs as a paragraph here would suggest, at least, not in my views. Tons of parks, beaches, stores, and more, don’t allow dogs even on leash or even if well behaved. Tons of buildings and homeowner associations refuse any dogs at all, dog over 10 pounds or dog of certain breeds or types.

      And planes..well, it seems lousy that all dogs constantly have to risk being in cargo to fly. At least, the dog can get delayed or sent the wrong way. At worst, they can die. What if you have to go overseas for work? What if you have no one available to watch the dog for a month? I’m tired of dogs not being allowed on planes. Honestly!

      I understand and agree that cheating may cause issues for people who really need these laws to protect them. But instead of simply being angry, perhaps we should examine WHY people cheat.

      I’m in the USA BTW. At least in many European countries, some places have more relaxed rules on where dogs can go. Makes me want to retire to one of those places at times.

      • If you are going to own a pet then be responsible. Quit whining you need to fly everywhere with it because you don’t. Have it boarded somewhere or find a friend to take it while away. If you can’t do that then consider getting rid of it until you can be responsible enough to provide for it. The airlines don’t owe you the “right” to take it on a flight unless it is covered by law. My son is allergic to dogs and has to get doped up on allergy meds to take a flight now because of the selfish people that have lied so they can have their emotional/therapy dogs in the cabin instead of the hold where they belong.

  16. I love taking my dogs with me to as many places as I can, but at the same time, if a dog is not trained very specifically for service animal tasks, being in some situations can be extremely stressful for the animals. People think their dogs want to go with them everywhere, and in some cases, they do, but as the human, you have to make the judgement call that certain scenarios (parades, big parties, crowded stores, sports games, restaurants, etc.) might stress out your dog, who would rather be at home sleeping in his bed.
    If you pay someone to “train” your dog for “service animal certification” just to take them with you places, not because you have an actual need for a service animal, you’re an asshole.

  17. Nice article. Wish you would go a little deeper and differentiate not only between Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs, but the now widely popular Emotional Support Dogs. While I agree ESD’s are needed for some people, I also believe the dogs need to be required to be temperament tested and required to pass the same type of testing as Therapy Dogs. Too many people are using this as a way to take their dogs with them everywhere too with ill mannered, poorly trained, and/or aggressive temperaments. ESD’s do not have the same rights as a Service Dog either. They too will ruin it for those who truly need an ESD.

    • Service dogs are trained to do work or perform tasks that assist his/her handler’s specific disability. They are allowed to go anywhere with their handler the general public is allowed. A Therapy dog “usually” goes through a TD organization for training and certification, but Therapy dogs are just pets that the handler wishes to bring to nursing homes, Rehab centers, hospitals and such for the positive effects it has on the patients in such a facility. Therapy dogs do NOT have the same access rights as service dogs. They are invited to the facilities they visit and are often only allowed when they are scheduled to visit. The handler does not have to be disabled to own a Therapy dog. An Emotional Support Dog is also a pet. Sometimes called Companion Dogs, these dogs are allowed into “No pets” housing and on planes with their elderly/disabled handlers with a Dr.’s note saying the right things. However, they do not have rights to public access like service dogs and their disabled handlers. If a dog only provides comfort, emotional support, or just “makes me feel better”, it is not a service dog but an emotional support dog. Does that help clarify it a little?

  18. In Australia a person with an assistance dog must carry a letter from their doctor stating that they require an assistance dog. Store owners can request to see this letter. I assist people in the training of their dog and it is a very lengthy and full on program. To avoid fakes we ask for a letter from their Dr before starting, and we do issue I’d cards with a photo of dog and handler after discovering that a couple of our clients relatives were taking the dogs out with them.

    • I personally do believe that the laws in America are a bit too loose. I understand that the intention is to protect the handler’s privacy, but the law is still too open. I personally asked my doctor’s opinion before ever getting my dog. I also carry paperwork (though not required, and illegal to request) because I do feel like too many people abuse the law. I am willing to provide my dogs rabies information as well as his training information. Doing this validates my dog’s status without violating my privacy.

  19. Having worked in the service industry, I have seen people who are not disabled state their dog is a service dog as we are not allowed to ask what the disability is or ask for papers. I have no problem with service dogs for those who need them but don’t abuse it.

    • I wonder how you conclude that people “are not disabled” as many people with legitimate requirements for a service dog do not have VISIBLE disabilities. Be careful about your conclusions.

  20. In all the articles I read no where does anyone address how difficult it is to get a guide service animal. Most people with disabilities are already poor because they don’t interact well with the public. I claim my Pitt bull as a service animal every single day. Yes I have a mental disability, yes this is diagnosed by a doctor, yes I trained her myself to fit my needs, no she was not trained by a stranger that she doesn’t trust. Yes she’s saved my life on numerous occasions. Do I need her to wear a vest to exploit my business for the public? Hell no. I also don’t need your questions or concerns. If she acts out of character then we will discuss it. I work hard every single to battle my disability and to keep her on course last thing I need is a group of people making it more difficult.

    • Jessica, your combative attitude is more the issue. Personally I do feel an SD should wear a vest or bandanna or something to identify them. I find that it does cut down on questions from those who are on the short end of Darwin. However being combative and belligerent does not help anyone, least of all you. And yes I will question anyone coming with a pittie simply because those are the ones who come in with their dog on a chain and then proceed to tear up a store, terrify people and attack my dog. My own attitude is being polite and answering polite questions, not rude ones! I do not owe anyone an explanation as to what my issues are but I do owe common courtesy and a polite request as to what she does for me. There is also a world of difference between an emotional support dog and a PTSD dog as well as one trained for certain mental conditions. My own response is usually yes, she is a trained Service Dog who is a medical alert and she helps me maintain dignity and the ability to come out and do the things others take for granted.

    • The owners (of service dogs) I know and have worked with generally choose to identify them as service dogs (with a vest or bandana or some marker) so that they don’t get asked the questions (at least by the educated) – and so that if people go to pet etc their dog they can explain “no , this dog is working”. Unfortunately they are burdened with the sometimes overwhelming and almost always annoying task of having to educate the uneducated. Most do this with grace and thereby leave one more person in the world educated on how to handle people with service dogs in the future.

      You are only required to answer 1) is your dog a service dog and 2) what service does it provide. How you choose to do so may greatly affect how that person you interact with views service dogs and their owners in general in the future. I hope it is more nicely done than the tone in your comment.

    • I’m combative because it’s always the people who have no idea what people living with a disability go through on a day to day basis that start and make comments. You basically put my ptsd anxiety relief Pitt bull in a category based off breed alone (discriminate much?). And I’m used to that but your ignorance on the breed isn’t my fault. Obviously you are more inclined to flaunt your disability and use it to your advantage than someone like myself that just prefers to enjoy life without the judging publics 2 cents. I stated that if my dog acted out of character I would expect questions and would genuinely comply to whatever the business or the person was asking. I’d even go through the steps and details and id show them her task versus just talking about it. But it’s not fair that I should have to do this upon arriving at each story just because the media has everyone hyped up on vicious Pitt bulls or because another person’s animal destroyed something or because your ignorance has you scared. You wouldn’t just walk up to a Stranger with a cane and ask them about their medical problems then have them explain their medication. Why should I have it done? Because I need a service animal to get by? Well that sounds like I’m being treated differently solely because at my side there is a beautiful Pitt bull minding her own business making sure I’m ok at every second.

      • Based only on the public’s general perception of bully breeds like Pit bulls, I would not have one as a service animal. I have enough crap going on in my life. I don’t want the breed I choose to add to my stress. I don’t want to have to not only educate people about service animals but also educate them on Pit Bulls as well. I don’t want to deal with the extra access issues having a Pit Bull or similar breed would certainly cause. I just want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Is it fair? No. I deal with discrimination enough by having an invisible disability. I don’t need to add to my fight. It is not right, but we have to really weigh out our options, and sometimes we do not like what the options are. That is simply my opinion though.

      • Thanks for that, but she’s worth every second I have to defend her. Glad my mother decided i was worth putting up with. That since i have a disability I wouldn’t add to her already stressful life. Pitt bulls were breed originally as nannies for children with Their gentle nature and protective instincts. It is society that has turned them into the bullied breed. She helps other people become aware of the breed and crushes the generalization of the bad rep they have. I encourage people to interact with her. She loves to learn as she teaches. Win win for us all..

  21. For all the popularity of dogs in this country, it is about the most dog unfriendly place in the world. Perhaps if we were allowed to bring our WELL BEHAVED companions to more public places we wouldn’t be tempted to lie and cheat to keep them with us. Just saying…

    • Alice, well behaved is in the eye of the beholder! After all, we are seeing a great number of very badly behaved children now and those are the same people who often have very badly behaved dogs too! Unfortunately, a very large number of these problem dogs are the little breeds and sadly to say. a decent number of pitties. Where I am there is a big issue with street bred pitties who are dangerous in temperament and there is a certain element of the population who enjoy bringing their pits in on fight chains, declare them service dogs and then proceed to terrorize a store and people. Managers are too afraid to say anything at all to these people so the problem gets worse. Wish it would be possible to get through to people! Many people tell me there is no way they could get their dogs to behave as well as mine do but I tell them it is just a matter of training and expectations….

      • UrbanCollieChick

        Badly behaved kids still get to go everywhere, and hardly anyone says anything because of what the late great comedian George Carlin used to call “Child worship.”

        And badly behaved kids can be way worse than problem dogs.

    • UrbanCollieChick

      I agree Alice. Two rights don’t make a wrong, but I don’t hear nearly enough about people trying to see why people cheat, and what can be done to rectify this. Well behaved dogs should be allowed in more places.
      Yes, some people have allergies to dogs, yes some people have fears, but on those issues, where does one draw the line? Some people are so allergic to peanuts that being within so many feet of one can cause a reaction. So does that mean one day I won’t be able to bring a bag of peanuts into, say, a shopping mall?

      BTW, people with dog phobias sometimes lie and say they have allergies too. Everyone lies. We need to find more constructive ways to deal with the root causes of lying. It would be less stressful for everyone in the long run. Less confrontation, fewer frustrations.

      If your dog is truly destructive or threatening, even when given space, then it’s understandable to not bring them everywhere. But restrictions on dogs today is not limited to such exceptions.

  22. I used to think that the idea of purchasing a fake certification to make it look like your dog was a service dog was inexcusable, and beyond unethical. Until my friend and I, both dog owners, traveled by air together. We took our dogs on the plane. Mine, a service dog, flew in the cabin with us. Hers, a “mere” pet, was forced to travel in a kennel in the baggage portion of the plane. It died during flight. I have since discovered that literally hundreds of dogs die during airline travel each year due to being relegated as cargo, and airlines know that pets in the hold are at a very real risk of dying during flight. There is no reason that our world should be set up to consider a non-service dog so unimportant that risking it’s life is perfectly acceptable, while at the same time acknowledging both the emotional and financial value of a service dog. Fake service dogs may put me, and my dog, and my access at risk, but I’ll tolerate it, if it means somebody’s beloved friend can accompany them safely when necessary. I can’t imagine anything less than that being reasonable or right.

    • UrbanCollieChick

      Thank you Magsak. To be honest, I’d be less angry about ALL of this if only dogs were allowed on planes. Not many dogs fit under the seat. There’s barely any room for a guinea pig under there!

  23. Thank you for this! There is a dog walker/pet sitter that goes to some of our local dog parks and advertises he has a friend who will print out the paper work for 50$. It makes me so angry!

  24. I have had my fully trained service dog for years. Over the years my service dog has been lunged at, snapped at and “attacked” in airports, restaurants and stores by fake service dogs. Real service dogs are trained to just sit there and ignore the other dogs. I do not look like I have a disability. PTSD cannot be seen. (No I was not in the military). When I have people tell me you aren’t blind why do you need a dog and want me to tell them my medical history, it can become unsettling when they do not accept my brief answer “my dog is a medical alert dog.” I do have a FT job and 99.9% of my co-workers have no idea of my personal life. My boss is terrific and since I am in an executive position, she tells clients I am training the dog. Unfortunately in this day and time if you have PTSD it is looked down upon by a number of people. I have friends that fly with their dogs and pass them off as service dogs. They are very well trained dogs, but are not service dogs. They do not want to pay the HIGH cost and risk the dangers of putting their dogs in cargo. They do know how I feel about it though.

  25. A service dog is not a pet, but a tool. Asking for a certificate is just wrong. When someone enters a business with their wheelchair, also a tool, they don’t need to show a certificate. People using fake service dogs are selfish and self serving.

  26. I’m a fan of a certain country rock group and one day I was on Twitter and I noticed a picture of this particular guys dog on the plane with them wearing a service dog vest. I then , now that I look at it foolishly asked oh I see your dog is now a service dog what services does he do for the disabled she replied back he doesn’t he’s not a service dog but we got him trained so he can fly with us…this just burns me how people take advantage of the situation in the system just like how I’m sure a lot of us were brought up in school it only takes one person to ruin it for the whole class I was born with spina bifida I now cannot get my dog trained to help me in public because first of all she’s a Jack Russell and I was told that she’s too small plus too hyper , she’s very laid-back she does have her moments of Jack Russell but 90percent of the day she’s very laid-backabout 10-15 years ago I discovered that I have panic attacks I was at a country concert and completely lost it and now I still have them once in a blue moon but I wasn’t diagnosed with panic attacks therefore it’s not a medical necessity for me to have a dog so now my Jack Russell is just your comment every day Pet.I was on my way back to my van from shopping the other day and this lady come up to me with her little Yorkshire, she was bragging that she took her dog into the stores because it fit in her purse nobody said anything I proceeded to tell her that she was very lucky she didn’t get caught that it was against the law she proclaimed she didn’t know anything about this law. I’m sure she did she just pretended like she didn’t. these guilty people they know the law , they just find a way around it and get away with everything that a law obiding citizens would normally get in trouble for.

    • I personally would make a point of letting every media i could get to listen to me that said person is faking their dog as a service dog. Celebrities hate that kind of publicity.

      • Aurelia Stone

        I had a pomeranian as a dibetic alert dog for over 10 years until she djed in May.I bought another pom puppy to train to take her place. I have never had them wear the vest because of their long coats, but do have a laminated sign that I attach to the front of my cart and another “service animal” patch attached to the leash handle. Though not required, it sure makes life easier going into restraunts, etc. and saves a lot of questions, from other patrons as well as management.
        In North Carolina, service animals in training are afforded the same rights and privileges as fully trained animals.
        My dog is only10 months old, but sits quietly through meetings, at restaurants, at work, in the hospital, etc. so that many times people do not know the dog was there until I get up to leave. I am sure that it will be many months before he will be fully trained to alert to my medical need, but this part of his training, acclimating him to all the situations he will be expected to be in, is just as important.
        For the sake of others, I carry a blanket for him. He knows to stay on the blanket whether it is in a chair, the floor or wherever. This helps keep any hair away from others. He also gets brushed daily and goes to the groomer on a regular basis. I want us to be ambassadors for service dogs, not another reason for business owners to resent these dogs.

        Any dog which is misbehaving can be removed from the premises, though the owner does not have to leave (to me, that begs the question about how much service the dog really performs), and I have asked a store manager to have another dog removed from a store because it was becoming a danger to mine. He questioned if he coud legally do that, so I showed him the DOJ guidelines for businesses and he had the dog removed. I feel that the more people we can educate, the easier life will be for us and our dogs

  27. Went to a restaurant the other day and a couple came in with their small dog. We complained because it was seated on the bench and allowed to sniff the table. The customer told saff it was a service dog. This gal read the menu to her dog, fed it food off the plates and silverware. I love dogs and think service dogs are fabulous for disabled people who really need them but this couple displayed in appropriate behavior with their dog. Cant believe people get away with this.

    • My dog, a pom, sits on the bench or a chair at restaurants so he doesn’t get stepped on or kicked. However, he lies down with his head under the table and knows that he will never get any food while in the restaurant. Many times after we are seated nobody even knows the dog was there until we get up to leave. If we have any meat trimmings, they are given to him after we get back to the car. Those people you saw were insensitive boors who give legitimate service dogs a bad name.

  28. Can a small breed be a service dog? A young lady came on my bus today with a Chihuahua and said “he’s a service dog”. I rolled my eyes, but didn’t call her on it. Should I have?

    • Yes, any breed dog can be a service dog, including small breed dogs. For people who need medical alerts (diabetes, seizures, etc) small breed dogs can be the right choice for that person. That’s just one example of what small breeds can do. Remember, not all disabilities are visible, so you can’t tell by looking at someone if they are disabled or not. If you are what we call a “gatekeeper”, someone like a bus driver, manager, the person in position to question a service dog’s legitimacy, research ADA laws so you know what you can legally ask to verify service dog status.

      • My 10 pound Papillon (now deceased) was a fine service dog, and did all the lower level chores i could not do myself, from my power wheelchair. He tugged open doors and drawers, fetched items, made the bed, put laundry in the front loader, transferred it to the dryer, pulled it out of the dryer and dropped the clothes into the basket. He tugged off my clothing. From my lap in the wheelchair, he activated power door openers and elevator buttons. He worked at my side, and remained on the floor quietly under a table on his mat in restaurants.

        It took two solid years of full time training before I considered him “Bombproof” in public. The task training was the easy part, but being able to handle the stress of ever-changing environments, and ignoring distractions — takes time. Small service dogs serve their disabled humans in many different ways, But a well-trained service dog will remained focused on the owner, quiet, and display impeccable manners in public.

        It is getting harder now, with under-trained pets being passed off as service dogs. I give other dogs a wide-berth with my latest Papillon service dog-in-training, during public access field trips. I’m saddened by the lack of integrity of so many people who take under-trained dogs to public places, whether they are “fakes” or not. When my service dog is put at risk when an under-trained dog lunges at him, it puts his life and my independence in great jeopardy.

    • Absolutely small breed dogs can be service dogs. I have a 4.5 pound chiweenie that alerts me to ocular migraines and asthma attacks.

      I alsobuse a 100 pound aussie/german shepherd to assist me with pickingbup dropped items, mobility, and counter balancing.

      Im a wheelchair user so my big dog also helps me transfer onto toilets, beds and so on.

      And before you ask, yes its legal to use more than 1 service dog at a time within reason.

    • Yes, any sized dog can be a service dog, so long as he/she is capable of performing the necessary tasks. I realize many people use “service dog” as an excuse to bring their adorable pocket-dog with them. However, I personally have a teacup poodle who assists me. He is fluffy and adorable and I constantly have people rolling their eyes at me or calling him “fake,” and it is truly degrading. So, please use caution and common sense before making snap judgements about a dog because of its appearance. Also remember that animals may have bad days just as people do.

  29. Thank you for this article. I did not know it is illegal and I know of several people who have “fake ” service dog. They said all you have to do is to pay for a certification. Thanks for setting the record straight as it never seemed right to me that someone who did not need a service dog could get their pet certified. Now I will speak up.

  30. I completely agree with everything said in your article. I always confront people i see with any k8nd of animal in a store where pets arent allowed.

    I simply go up to them and say, oh what a beautiful service dog what task is it trained to do that assist with your disability.

    It usually throws the faker completely off, and they will usually say im not disabled. To which i say, if your not disabled, and thats not your service dog yhen your not allowed to have your dog in the store.

    They usually confront me about my service dogs. I simpley tell them i have multiple disabilities that my dogs are trained to assist me with.

    If they don’t leave with their pet dog then i tell the stores mgmt and security about the person and dog. Then i go about my own business.

  31. A better reply would be to such people wanting to train fake service dogs and claiming their friend (or family member) did this and they’re not disabiled would be, “Are you absolutely sure your friend doesn’t have a legitimate disability? Are you a physician?”

    Then secondly, “why are you accusing your friend of committing fraud upon the public and telling strangers that you want to break the law, too?”

    I hear from so many of my invisibly disabled or later-disabled service handler acquaintances that their family and friends really don’t believe they’re “disabled” or :”disabled enough” to benefit from service dogs.

    I owner-train because I (still) can, and because I have complex needs that most organizations that train hearing dogs (my main disability) cannot accomodate unless they also trained medical alert and physical assistance dogs. Many of my friends have been given hearing dogs by service dog organizations which were not physically or temperamentally fit for the work, with very little follow up.

    For that reason, I can easily say my first dog was trained to a standard beyond that offered by a few major organizations.

    My current service dog in training I regard as extremely green, but have been told by people who see service dogs on a regular basis in my area (for medical alerts) that he appears very well behaved already at a young age.

    The “Fake service dog” hysteria hurts a lot of legitimately disabled people. Let’s face it– the real problem is people handling service (real or fake) dogs poorly in public. And also, many people behaving as though service dogs are therapy dogs to be petted by any stranger.

    Poor behavior:
    – Letting your dog ride in carts, or up on others’ furniture (unless doing a task you cannot do for yourself for you)
    – Taking a dog you know to be fearful, snappish, shy of stranger in public at all. This alone is grounds for businesses to exclude you: if your dog presents a risk to others, you will be kicked out and you will make life harder for other service dog handlers.
    – Coddling a dog’s negative reactions as “alerts” or “warnings” or letting your dog aggress at other dogs while on leash. (This is a huge washout, but a lot of leash aggression is actually taught by the owner. If you’ve never had a dog behave well on leash, you NEED training before you work with a service dog, even one from a program.)
    – Not disciplining your dog if it ignores your commands or misbehaves in public. THis does not have to be punitive, but you must be consistent and firm in the rules or the dog will forget/ignore them.
    – If you are not physically able to (and this is now a problem for me) to resettle a dog, this is where you begin to consider recruiting additional training help for your handling skills, and getting obedience rock solid, getting a program-trained dog that will work with your limitations (dumber dogs take longer to train, but might never challenge you as quickly, for instance) , or realizing maybe you are not cut out to handle a dog in public.

    As a non-service dog handler, you can certainly NOT let your dog rush up to greet any working dog (or any pet dog, really– a lot of them don’t appreciate the rude behavior and will snap), and if you see a service dog team distracted by your dog barking its head off, do not assume they’re fake (they could be legitimate but still green, and the dog not suitable after all), and leave the area with your dog; you may be endangering others’ safety.

    Do not ever extend a hand to pet, or otherwise touch a service dog without getting a FIRM “yes you may” Silence does not mean consent. Do not “help” a disabled person by blocking the service dog from doing a task it was asked to.

    Thanks muchly. I hate these people who think it’s cute to have a fake service dog, but it’s actually much more stressful than people realize to work a service dog in places never designed for dogs to go in, and to try and run errands with a dog.

    It is most certainly not a lighthearted walk for most of us. I use a service dog because the benefits outweigh the negatives for me. If I were able and not disabled, I would not even think of it for one second.

  32. As a High School project my Daughter volunteered to be a Guide Dog for the Blind Puppy Raiser. This was a family event and legally business did not have to allow the two dogs that we were raising into them as they were not yet qualified as Service Animals. Lucky most establishments around us knew of the many Puppies in Training who were with there host families for 18 months and allowed the “Guide Dog in Training” in to their businesses so we could train and socialize these great animals. I think back to the times when we would walk into a restaurant and tell the dogs to “Kennel” at which time Tevin and latter Dill would go under the table lay day and go to sleep. They had been trained to leave human food alone and did not care what was on the ground or what fell on the ground. Latter when we were leaving the people around us had changed out and they were completely surprised to see a dog come crawling out from under the table stretch and assume it’s spot on the left side of which ever family member was escorting them at the time. With the increase in “fake” service animals out there I’m concerned with the impact it will have on animals like the “Guide Dogs in Training” who need to be exposed to the sights and smells and confusion that we all live in day after day. Both Tevin and Dill went back to complete the Guide Dog training and are now registered service animals guiding their masters around the world. For those that seek to take their pets with them and pass them off are as much of a danger to the real service animals as those that try to call, pet or just distract a service animal or a puppy in training.

  33. I think the ‘fake’ service dog goes back to the selfish people. A friend of mine NEEDS his service dog (PTSS) and there is no way I would jeopardize his access with his dog 24/7. I on the other hand have 2 SAR (Search & Rescue) K-9s and take them most anywhere I go. Took a lot of work with businesses I patron to explain the need for training in new surroundings, smells, etc. Most are understanding and want to help just asking for the K-9 to wear harness with logo when coming into the establishment. When we come into contact with a ‘service dog’ THEY have the right-of-way…we are just training. Granted some maybe ‘fake’ service dogs, but I am going to be a responsible dog owner.

  34. Oh my, oh my! Such passion about where and when to take dogs! I completely agree that only truly certified dogs should be allowed to “serve” but I also think that the certification agencies do not have the manpower to handle all of the legitimate requests for certification.

    I am a recent paraplegic. I did not ever think I would get a service dog as I knew the wait was terribly long and I honestly thought that there were people who needed them more than me. My husband is a veterinarian and a very well meaning client gifted me a service dog. My standard poodle, Guinness, is in formal training to finish off the requirements to be certified and won’t be tested until he reaches 2 years old. I was amazed at all the things he can do for me and I can’t imagine my life without him.

    I will proudly show an ID card for my dog. I will be very glad to share all of the things he does for me. I do not care if it is inconvenient. I do not care if I am scrutinized by the airlines. I am an ambassador for my service dog, whether I like it or not. Ask away!

    The people who pass off their pets as service dogs should be ashamed.

    • For those with invisible disabilities, even disabilities where extra stress only complicates the disability, endless questions, staring, even “stalking” is damaging. One panic attack will pretty much put an end to my entire day as it totally depletes my energy, both physical and mental, needed to proceed with life as originally planned. Not everyone receives a certificate or ID, but their dogs do fit the legal definition of service dog. In a day when it is popular to just BUY a service dog certificate and ID off the internet, even if it is for a pet, even paperwork from legit service dogs are going to be questioned more now. THAT is a big problem!

    • When I was officially able to start taking my dog with me, I felt the same way. I enjoyed the opportunity to educate others about my situation and about my dog. However, I have learned that many people simply refuse to listen. I took my dog to a restaurant when I first got his training papers from the state. I was still waiting on his vest, but legally you do not have to have a vest. When I was approached by the manager of said restaurant I pointed to his state-issued tag because I understood the concern of having a dog around food. The manager refused to accept his tag and demanded to see my papers (which by the way, is illegal) which he then declared were fake because they did not have my dog’s picture on them. Moral of the story: some people just don’t care. I truly hope you retain your passion and enthusiasm for education. Personally, I’ve decided that education sometimes requires much louder actions.

  35. I go to comic conventions where there are literally thousands of people crushed together and milling around, and more likely than not, they are wearing costumes that range from a change of clothing to prosthetic horns, capes, suites, and even massive wings! And every time, what do I invariably see? Five or six dogs wearing ’emotional support dog’ vests, cowering beside their owners, pressed against them, tails tucked, terrified out of their poor little minds. It makes me so mad. I don’t care if it’s a legitimate service dog or not, I respect your right to come enjoy the convention as much as the next person, but don’t torment your dog just because you made them a cute costume. Even if you have a legitimate service dog, that kind of environment can be deeply traumatic. I’m not saying all dogs would do poorly in that situation, I’ve seen several legitimate service dogs at cons doing just fine, but those are people who know their dogs and know what the dog can and can’t do. If you know your dog won’t do well in a situation, legitimate or not, don’t take them! It’s animal abuse, pure and simple.

  36. About 20 years ago I read an article in the NY Times about people who wanted to have dogs in their “no pet” apartment buildings/co-ops/condos, and got a doctor or therapist to certify that the person needed an Emotional Support Dog. First time I ever heard that phrase, and ever heard of people working the system with a dog. Bigger question: why do so many housing options ban dogs? We had a terrible time finding a place in Arlington, Mass. that would take our 22 pound Corgi.

  37. I have a rental property and had a woman with a “service dog” apply to rent it. Then she said she had 2 service dogs… Great Danes. Really? 2 Great Danes? Good thing my property manager asked the “dog” questions. The applicant first contended she had certifications for the dogs, said she would fax them over. Then when reminded she had not sent them, she got defensive and belligerent. No, she didn’t get the house. Why do people do this and make it harder for those who need dogs?

    • There is no such thing as a certification for a service animal. The only way to verify a service animal is a letter from their physician.

  38. It really pisses me off that people would do this. I have a service dog that serves as emotional support. Since my disability requires that I take a lot of medications, my psychiatrist suggested this as an alternative to antidepressants.I still have bouts of depression, but thankfully having Porthos has helped to control them enough so I don’t have to take antidepressants. Now the problem that I see with people faking a service animal is how people like myself are treated. I recently rented an apartment and the office staff acted like I was lying about my dog being a service animal. They said that they had people coming in and faking service animals. I took them a letter from my doctor which they followed up by calling my doctor and verifying. Even after my doctor verified, they were still a little mean about it like they didn’t believe Porthos was a service animal. We can blame all these fakers for being treated this way.

    • I can completely relate! I have a small dog as a service animal because I am currently in college. I figured a smaller dog would eat less food and would also be easier to herd into a car for long road trips. Yet, I am forever hearing comments that insinuate or flat-out refer to my dog as nothing more than a fashion accessory passing as a service animal with a fake vest. Trust me, I didn’t put in all of the time, effort, energy, money, etc. so I would have a universal fashion accessory.

  39. I have at least 20 different diagnosis, ranging from physical to mental/emotional. I have been checking into getting my 2 dogs, that I have raised, registered as Emotional support animals and discussed this with my physician as well. I am just waiting on my letter from them. I take very few medications and with the new, stricter laws, no narcotics or hard medications, which as a once practicing nurse, I do not like to take pills after giving so many our over the years but know I have to to be able to function most days. I have non-service related PTSD, bipolar I and adult ADHD and I am not on any medications for them at this time due to I have side effects with all that have been prescribed. My dogs have been a major blessing. They have taught themselves things, adjusting to my health. I am unsteady walking and we had stairs into our bedroom at our previous residence. They would allow me to go down the stairs first and wait for me to tell them to come down. They do not get very far from me at any time. We will take them to the lake or river with us to go swimming or fishing but we do not take them out in public. Too many people like to come up to any animal and pet it, no matter if given permission or not. I was checking into registering my animals long before we had to move, due to our landlord selling the house that we were in, and moving into a dump he had. It is hard to find a place that accepts animals. My wanting to register mine as emotional support animals has nothing to do with the move but in a way, is a plus if we move again. I am usually home by myself a lot and if it was not for my babies, my getting up to take them out and spending the time with them during those hours alone, I would be in much worse shape than I am. I have controlled some of my conditions fairly well on my own for most of my life but my health keeps going down and my fur kids are a huge blessing when I am down or hurting really badly. I have to get up and move around to take care of them, which in turn reminds me to take care of myself.

  40. I wish the airlines would allow me to buy a seat for my well-behaved, 40-lb agility dog. I wouldn’t mind being restricted to flights at less-busy times and to seats in the back of the plane. He would just lay on the floor under “his” seat and be almost-invisible to other passengers. I have dog-training friends more than halfway across the country and driving 4 or more days to visit them (with my dog) keeps me from doing it. I do know of some agility and herding competitors who have claimed fake service dog status. I deplore this, but understand that they are afraid of losing their dogs if they’re in cargo. Personally, I just get in my car and drive. And drive. And drive.

  41. Oh yes. I deal with this frustrating situation on an almost daily basis. I don’t know why people think they can fool me, not only as a professional dog trainer but also a registered nurse. I do not have a lot of tolerance for people feigning illness or disability or parading their pet dogs around as service dogs. I continue to try and educate as many people as I can to hopefully help raise awareness so the public will begin to hold these people, both pretend service dog handlers and pretend service dog trainers, accountable.

    • I have a well-trained, well behaved service dog (that meets federal law’s definition of service dog) that assists me with my disability (as the law defines disability) She has been trained to do tasks and work that help me be more independent and more a part of our community. She is owner-trained. I am not a professional dog trainer, but I did go through a training program where I live. Not every area has this kind of program. How do you define a pretend service dog handler and pretend dog trainer??

  42. I am in Australia and I have an Assistance Dog (our name for Service Dogs). Because my disability is not visible, everyone just assumes my girl is a Guide Dog puppy in training (she is a Labrador x Kelpie). But the really frustrating thing is seeing people with their little dogs in the basket of their mobility scooter or in a carry bag. These dogs are NOT AD’s – no jacket and they hide the dog whenever they see security. I was at my local shopping centre last week and my dog was lunged at by one of these little critters. She looked at it as if to say “you got a problem” and the owner simply laughed. I reported the incident to security but nothing happens. There is no training provided to retail staff to advise them on how to handle these situations.

  43. I truly wish people like that could experience a month in the life of someone with a service dog. I promise you that it’s more that just sheer enjoyment of having your pooch with you everywhere. It’s kind of like having a child with you because even though you may depend on your dog, your dog also depends on you. Also, it is RIDICULOUS how many people will walk up and distract your dog or start petting them without even acknowledging the owner. But my absolute favorite thing in the world is when you say, “He’s working. Please don’t pet him,” and every person in the vicinity turns on you because you don’t “look” disabled, or because your dog isn’t a “typical” service animal. Surely, I must be lying. I’m simply posing him as a service animal to keep from the inconvenience of leaving my dog at home. Seriously people?? Not all disabilities are visible. Furthermore, my disability isn’t really any of your business (thank you 4th amendment) nor your concern.

  44. Reblogged this on Kachine and Company and commented:
    This is one of the most frustrating things I encounter. As a person who needs an ESA, which is not a true service dog but pretty close, it annoys me to no end. There may be a day when Noodles needs to certify her skills and become an actual service dog. Many of the tasks she performs for me already would qualify her to be a service dog. She already steps in and distracts me when I am starting to have a panic attack. She wakes me up at night if I am having nightmares which will then lead to panic attacks. She has her own three step system for this too! If whining doesn’t wake me up, she then noses me. If I am in so deep that her cold, wet nose doesn’t wake me, she jumps on the bed to whine, nose bump me, and lick my face until I wake up. We have never had to go further than that! I have taught her none of these things. She does them on her own because she is an amazing dog! I have not yet taken the next step because I don’t feel like I need to. I haven’t had a panic attack in a store for over a year now. Yes, I have had some triggered by nightmares but that is not likely to happen in a public setting!

    Along with folks seeking training so they can call their dog a service animal, there are many, many websites where you can buy “certificates” for your dog. You get tags, sometimes vests, and lots of official looking papers all for one price, which is hundreds, if not thousands less than actually going through the training. These sites tell you that your dog will be added to the national service dog registry (which does not exist at this time although a movement is in place to have a VOLUNTARY one) and no store will be able to deny your dog access! You can bring your dog with you on an airplane or on the train! No landlord can deny you housing! News flash: These sites are huge scams. It takes so much more than a tag to make a dog a service dog. These fake dogs are making it harder and harder for those who actually need a companion for assistance and for those of us who might need one in the future. Also, yes a store can deny even a certified service dog access! If the dog is disruptive, destructive, or overly dirty, the handler can be asked that the dog be removed. Is this likely to happen with a trained dog? Maybe, but probably not. Everyone does have bad days though. Is this likely to happen with an internet certified fake dog? You bet your boots! If the dog hasn’t had even the basics of obedience, how can they be expected to behave in such a distracting and overwhelming place? And with that one bad experience, the store owner and employees will be even less welcoming to the next real service dog who comes through!

    Bottom line is, would we love to take our dogs every where we go? Absolutely! Do the majority of us need to? No. I would love nothing more than to take Shaak Ti the Wonder Noodle to every single public place I go. But I don’t need to. So I don’t. She is just as happy in the car, curled up in her crate (temperatures permitting of course!), waiting for me to return from grocery shopping.

    Please think twice if you have been contemplating doing something like this. If you know someone who has bought one of these kits, call them out! Show them that it is a crime. You will be helping to make the world a more friendly place for the real service dogs out there!

  45. Before start your dog training you must avoid these 7 myths about dog training.

  46. I am a manager in a food store. It is against health code to allow non service animals in our stores. We welcome real service dogs in our stores. They are usually very well behaved and usually wearing credentials. The trend to take your fake service dog everywhere makes it difficult for the people who truly need to have their animals with them. The trend is rampant. I have to approach customers on a regular basis to asked them to take their chihuahua or yorkie out of the basket where the next customer will have their food. If it is a true service dog they need to carry it or it needs to be on the floor.

  47. I work in the casino industry and we see a lot of dogs coming in and the owners all have the same “disorder”. with the law stating that they don’t have to show an proof, they have learned that all you have to say is the dog lets me know I am going to have a seizure and there is not a thing any one can do about it.
    It is absolutely wrong when we have to let some homeless person bring their very dirty dog into our restaurant because their dog “Alerts them to seizures”

    The fact that they have learned they can take advantage of this is deplorable.

  48. Casino man, how do you know the homeless individuals are faking it?

    There are a whole lot of people with disabilities who have legitimately trained service dogs who are not quite homeless, but just one catastrophe or one paycheck from becoming part of the homeless population.

    To assume that a homeless person is faking their disability in order to bring a pet dog into the casino is a heartless assumption, and tells me far more about the kind of person you are.

    Of course it’s impossible that anyone who happens to be homeless could possibly have a dog that was actually trained to mitigate their disabilities, right?

    “There but for fortune,” Casino man. Perhaps you could count your blessings that you have no medical needs that prevent you from working and being able to afford housing rather than assume that a homeless person has no right to bring their service dog into your place of business.

    You did not mention that that dog was doing something inappropriate. Did it sniff the floor while walking? Did it scarf food off a table it was passing? Did it jump on people, not display proper service dog public behaviors, or show any reason that it was not a properly trained dog?

    If so, share what you have observed, not your assumption that being homeless equates not having a real disability, or that their dog was not a service dog. You are certainly aware that if the dog is not displaying appropriate public access manners, that you may ask the disabled person to leave and come back without the dog.

    Your post, however, sounds simply elitist, without substance, and horribly biased against those who find themselves homeless. And THAT, Casino man, is what is, as you say, “absolutely wrong.”

  49. my dog is trainable.
    i not aware of all behavoirs in public places, like bench on train, i allowed as my service pet has issues but her issues simliar as mine, she give me awareness that help my medical issues…
    my communication has limits and she assist alway when need her work…
    please help me direct her appropriate for laws on, pulbic transport and within law how o respond to people anyone bus store dr when she is helping me an they my believe she a pet..
    i have several issues just ingaguaging converseation effect my medical issues..
    thank you for your time and any help also..
    thank you
    barb

  50. As a business owner who is presented with numerous shady people daily, I have concerns about several customers that appear to be taking advantage of the rights afforded to service dogs and their owners. Should the person in question have their animal with them at all times? To me, it seems if a service animal is truly needed a person would not leave their animal at home while they walk to the store. Any input would be great. TIA

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