Tags: fake | service | dogs

Fake Service Dogs a Growing Problem as People Want Dogs With Them

By    |   Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 07:32 PM

A growing number of pet owners without disabilities are putting official-looking vests over their canines to fool businesses into thinking they are service dogs.

The problem has gotten so bad that the largest service dog breeding and training program in the county recently started an online petition asking the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

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“Unfortunately, people are trading on the fact that these harnesses and vests have become distinguishing marks of service dogs, so now you find unscrupulous businesses who sell these things to people who want to take their dogs into the store or restaurant or in the passenger cabin of the plane,” Paul Mundell, national director of Canine Companions for Independence, told the Sentinel.

Many people with service dogs worry that the untrained imposters will attack their dogs. Others say the growth in fake service dogs has led businesses to wrongly question people with legitimate need of a service dog as to the validity of their handicap.

Businesses must allow service animals to accompany anyone with a disability. If a disability is not obvious, workers can only ask if the service animal is required because of a disability and what kind of training the dog has undergone.

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, it is a federal crime to claim an untrained dog is a service dog to someone who does not have a disability.

Corey Hudson is chief executive officer of Canine Companions for Independence and president of Assistance Dogs International. He is among those leading the effort to get the U.S. Justice Department to do something to address the burgeoning problem.

Others, however, worry about potential adverse impacts. An official with the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, for example, told The Associated Press they worry that Justice Department involvement could set back access rights that have been won by those with disabilities.

“While we deplore those who might be so unethical as to impersonate a disabled person by dressing up their dog as a service animal, we equally deplore the frenzy of alarm being stirred up about the risk of such abuse, the group’s chairwoman," Joan Froling told the AP.

A volunteer guide at the Monterey Aquarium who also uses a service dog, Marv Tuttle told the AP he doesn’t think new legislation would work. Although he said he often spots phony service dogs at the Aquarium, Tuttle added: “They can write new laws, but there is no way to enforce them. We don’t have enough police to stop murderers, much less stop people from hauling around pseudo service dogs,” he said.

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A growing number of pet owners without disabilities are putting official-looking vests over their canines to fool businesses into thinking they are service dogs.
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Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 07:32 PM
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