Fake Service Dogs

Charli Saltzman

There is a current scam going on. Well, some call it a scam. Some pet owners are passing their dogs along as service dogs by buying harnesses and vests on line and obtaining legitimate-looking service dog documentation and certification for their pet dogs. You may ask, why are they doing this? For one thing, they want their dogs to go anywhere with them in public. Also, because service animals are allowed to ride free inside the cabin on an airplane, some pet owners want their pets to fly free as well. The problem with this is that these pretend service dogs are in fact not service dogs, therefore if a dog is not appropriately trained as professional and real service dogs are, a dog could be put under a lot of stress. When a dog is under stress, it is possible for the dog to cause injury to himself, the owner, or someone else. A professional service dog has extensive training in many different areas including subways in New York, restaurants, and public malls. Fake service dogs are dogs that, while they may be well-behaved, were not trained according to the service dog standards. Now, think about the problems this could cause for guide dog users.

Some of these people have been found out. What if that keeps happening? Pretty quickly, it is going to be necessary for a person with an actual disability who has a service dog to have to provide proof that their service dog is, in fact, a real service dog. Now wouldn’t this be a pain? And it wouldn’t be fair for people who really do use service dogs. We shouldn’t have to pay the penalty for pet owners who break the law by skirting past service dog regulations. Now, it is important to recognize the difference between registered therapy dogs and fake service dogs.

People often need that emotional support from dogs. That is why it is possible for a person to register their dog as a therapy dog. The difference between a therapy dog and a fake service dog can be understood pretty clearly. First, a fake service dog is just a way to get a pet into public places where only service animals are around either because the pet owner just wants the dog with them or they want something free. A therapy dog is a dog who provides emotional support to their handlers or to other people. For example, therapy dogs are allowed into nursing homes and hospitals for the enjoyment of the residents. As you know, most places like hospitals and nursing homes don’t just let pets come in.

I want to say, in conclusion, that I understand what pet owners may want. After all, I was a pet owner for years. But for many pet owners, a pet is their child, and children can go to the store, the mall, and restaurants with their parents. So, why not allow pets to go anywhere with them? Well, there is no law in place for this yet, and think about some of the problems that could potentially occur. First, as I mentioned before, a pet not conditioned to a certain thing will express anxiety. Also, the difference between pets and children is that children grow up and mature while dogs and other pets will always have a personality and understanding of a small toddler no matter what age they are. Sometimes we guide dog users say that owning a guide dog is like having a two-year-old for the dog’s entire working life. Children are able to learn to get along with other children, but a dog who never likes other dogs or cats can cause major problems. And, not to be selfish, but if dogs were allowed everywhere like my service dog, Joba will almost always be distracted because he loves other dogs. Let’s just say I don’t really like to take him into pet stores. Of course, he did amazing at “I Love My Dog Expo”. I suppose it would be possible for him to become used to always having another dog around while working.

Who knows? Maybe someday, pets will be allowed everywhere, but I definitely think that people must consider all possibilities. So, we need to find a way to educate people and help them understand that making your dog a fake service dog by getting him or her a harness is against the law and simply not okay. Our pets and service dogs are important to us. So, let’s keep all of them safe by obeying the laws put in place for animals. After all, there is a reason for them.




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