Spotting REAL service dogs from the fakes

Spotting REAL service dogs from the fakes
September 20, 2013 by Sandy Robins
Leslie Smith and Isaac

There’s been a lot in the news lately about fake service dogs – people taking their dogs places and claiming that they need  emotional support from their canine, when, in fact, they just want to take their pooch with them wherever they go!
There is just one word for this – deplorable!
The people it hurts the most are those that have and need real, trained service dogs!
First off, a real service dog is a highly trained animal. From puppyhood, these dogs are taught amazing skills over a two-year period. How can you compare this to a spoilt pooch that yaps and can't even sit on command? Of course, I am not blaming the dogs being passed off as service dogs – it's the owners fair and square that are to blame.
The problem too is the fact that you can purchase fake credentials on line!
In California, it's a felony to pass off your dog as a service dog when it isn't. Now, here the law is to blame because its not being enforced!
Robert Misseri, president of a welfare organization called Guardians of Rescue that has a program called “Paws of War,” where they pair shelter dogs up with veterans suffering from PTSD or other psychological conditions says it best:
“Many veterans benefit from having a trained service dog with them, if they suffer from issues such as PTSD. Yet they are now being faced with additional stress because of people who are creating a rash of fake service dogs, leaving businesses unsure which are really true service dogs.”

Here are 5 things to know about fake service dogs:

•       Simplicity. Part of the problem is that there is no standard certification that dogs must go through to become a service pet. Because there is no official certification or process, people are able to obtain fake documents easily. One quick search online provides thousands of fake service-pet vests, leashes, patches, and 'certification.' For approximately $250, people can buy an entire kit that turns their dog into a fake service dog. For just a couple of dollars, people can buy individual pieces, such as fake documentation to carry with them.
•       Behavior. There is a big difference between the behavior a real service dog will display and that of a fake one. Real service dogs are trained to assist the person, not protect them. They are trained to be quiet, not bark or growl, and they are never disruptive. On the other hand, the fake service dogs have a hard time holding back. They can be disruptive or even pose a threat to those around them. Also, service dogs will never get on the person’s lap or on a chair; they are trained to stay on the floor by the person. They also will not go after other dogs to fight, as some fake service pets will.
•       Training. The training difference between a real and fake service dog is what truly sets them apart. Real service dogs undergo a great deal of training, and that is a costly procedure. Service dogs are considered a medical cost that has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service. They are trained to help with various disabilities, including diabetes, seizures, autism, and epilepsy, among others. It is estimated that the cost to train a service dog can total as much as $50,000.
•       Limitations. Part of the issue at hand, and why so many people are getting away with taking their fake service dog everywhere with them, is that businesses are limited on what they can ask the person. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the only question someone can ask is whether the dog is a service dog. Questions regarding proof of certification or proof of a disability are not allowed, under current disability laws.
•       Exclusions. As mentioned, real service dogs have been trained not to be aggressive. The DOJ reports that a business owner can exclude a service dog that is displaying aggressive behavior toward other people, including growling, acting vicious, or posing any threat to others.

As dog lovers and pet parents we need to speak out. This has to stop.

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Comments (1)

Sorry, I do beg to differ here. As someone who facilitated Pet Facilitated Therapy before there was a name for it, it's very important there be less red tape for all people to be able to have 'comfort dogs/cats/etc' with them in places. We are a 'rule orientated' society, in most parts of Europe, having ones dog with one at a restaurant, etc, is allowed, and even welcomed.
While I acknowledge 'Service Dogs' provide a very valuable service, I'm concerned that all these 'regulations' will just create more barriers, not less.
Sat, 09/21/2013 - 08:02

Dog of the Week!