This has come up in my newsfeed, in conversations, and in daily life a lot lately, so I want to talk about it:
Fake service dogs.
It's something I've wanted to talk about since the beginning of this project, because there's some facts around this that you likely haven't considered!
I am including links to a couple of articles you should definitely read:
We See You, Fake Service Dog Owners
The Hidden Complications of Fake Service Dogs
Firstly, what is a service dog, legally speaking? The ADA (American Disability Act) passed legislation in the 80s and 90s defining a service dog as "a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability." This does not include therapy, support, comfort, or companion animals.
Now, there are no regulations surrounding service dogs. Although the government has begun to take steps in order to weed out the hugely growing problem of imposter service dogs. Right now, anyone can buy vests and ID cards - whatever they want.
Who the heck doesn't want to take their dog everywhere? Plus, the rental market is a war zone for pet owners. So registration seems like an easy out, doesn't it? Let's talk, quickly, about why this is a terrible idea.
In my opinion, the main reason people go about the registration process without the training is mainly the housing market. Landlords are not legally allowed to turn down service dogs. No one is legally allowed to ask you what a service dog does, either. It makes it stupid easy to pass your dog off as a service dog. So the boundaries are constantly pushed.
"Kels, I just wanna hang with my dog, he calms me down."
That's great, but you are actually putting people's lives in danger. Wait, what?
If your dog comes into a place that legally only service dogs should be, and distracts a real service dog, ques can be missed and the handler could be put in danger. It's the reason you're not supposed to pet or interact with service dogs; they truly are working, they need to be focused.
It's pretty easy to spot a service dog in public vs someone parading as one. The behaviour alone should show you. I had a lady bring her dog into the restaurant I worked in saying he was a service dog and he was distracted the entire time. She repeatedly told him to sit down, pulled him away from other people eating, and was feeding him under the table. The real service dog that came in with his handler weekly would lay under the table, completely controlled, and ignored everything around him. He didn't even lift his head off the ground unless instructed to do so.
It can also be why landlords hate renting to pet owners. "My dog is a service dog, you can't deny him" until he pees in the house, barks his head off, wrecks the yard, doesn't listen.. so then when a real, properly trained service dog comes along, the landlord is laughing.
These dogs are meant to help people with different disabilities navigate their lives in a "normal" manner. Why would you take that away from them so you can selfishly bring your dog on your coffee date? Plus, simply put, it's fraud.
I am going to do some interviews with trainers going forward and touch back on this subject, but I can tell you without even talking to them that this drives them nuts. It undermines years of hard work and legitimacy of the real working dogs.
Please, consider the consequences of your actions before you think this is a good idea.