There have been a few side conversations on here regarding fake/legit service dogs, use of therapy dogs and the like.
To cut through the BS Here is the link to the US Department Of Justice Fact Sheet on the issue.
Excerpts from the Government website:
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind,
alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and
protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with
mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or
performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets.
The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly
related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to
provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals
under the ADA.
From the above, note that:
- Service dogs are NOT pets. They are animals trained to perform specific tasks for a human owner. Legit service dog training typically takes MONTHS and can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. This means that the pit bull you just picked up at the pound is NOT A SERVICE DOG, and probably never will be.
- "Emotional Therapy" and "comfort" dogs are NOT QUALIFIED SERVICE ANIMALS. THIS MEANS THEY ARE NOT PROTECTED BY THE ADA!
Almost everyone, at this point, has experienced an obviously fake service dog at one point or another. Malicious, entitled dog owners will abuse the process, abuse sympathy for the disabled, and abuse the general love of dogs so they can have Fido drag them everywhere dogs are not welcome.
The last sentence above is key: WE are forced by LAW to associate with dogs! If that is the case, then these dogs BETTER be legit! How about if we were to do the same with heavy weapons permits?
They get away with this by exploiting loopholes in the law, and exploiting ignorance about the law itself.
Long term, loopholes need to be closed. The biggest loophole in my opinion: "Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical
documentation, require a special identification card or training
documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability
to perform the work or task."
Consider what I highlighted above. Now, you may not ask the dog owner "what is your disability" or the like because that violates their right of privacy. However, by not requiring ID on the dog, that means the dog owner can buy a $30 vest on Ebay, slap it on the dog and take it to the local steak joint. No problemo! Consider this article. Or, simply Google "service dog fraud": It is nearly ubiquitous nowadays!
This loophole needs to close. Each service dog should be licensed by the Federal Government. This document should be a hard-card ID (similar to a driver's license) with a photo of the dog, a photo of the owner, with a serial number that matches a chip in the dog. The license does NOT need to indicate the specific task training, nor the disability of the human handler - thus medical privacy is maintained. Penalties should be steep for presenting fake ID's. All online sales of service dog ID's, vests and the like should be shut down (HT - Eileen). Prescriptions for service dogs must be made IN PERSON, not online or over the phone, and there should be penalties for doctors that hand out frivolous service dog prescriptions (again, HT Eileen). Hell, they have high standards for narcotics prescriptions, why not service dog prescriptions?
Libertarian type objections will not float here. Again, the government is FORCING US BY LAW TO ASSOCIATE WITH CERTAIN DOGS. Whether we like it or not! Allergic? Terrified? TOO BAD! UNCLE SAM SAYS YOU MUST HAVE THIS DOG IN YOUR ESTABLISHMENT! The rest of us then should be able to demand the dog is performing a legit function. In a libertarian universe, there would be NO ADA. So, either get used to some restrictions, dog owners, or give up your protections. YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.
Again, like everything else in the doggy universe there are no standards, and malicious dog owners exploit every loophole to the extreme.
FOR NOW, here are a few things that may protect you. You ARE allowed to inquire the following: Staff may ask two questions:
(1) is the dog a service animal required
because of a disability, and
(2) what work or task has the dog been
trained to perform.
Of course, if the owner is a good BS artist, I'm sure they may have the above down pat.
Some other tidbits that may protect you:
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal
from the premises unless:
(1) the dog is out of control and the
handler does not take effective action to control it or
(2) the dog is
So, if the dog berzerks or pees in the aisle.... BUH BYE FIDO!
If a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that
they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage
caused by himself or his service animal.
Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.
For now, the law protects dog owner bad behavior (nothing unusual about that). That said, learn the law and make sure they do not step one inch over the line!
There has been a lot of buzz about implementing BSL in the service doggy universe. This is a great idea, but I want to bump it up a notch... instead of blacklisting attack dogs and the like, there should be a "white list" of breeds found to be good service animals. If the dog breed in question is NOT on the white list, it may NOT be a service animal. Period.
For now, Job #1 should be a proofing/ID system. I guarantee most (99+%) of Pit Bull service dogs are fake. Simply eliminating the fakes should take care of the phony attack dog service issue.
Probably the worst thing about the epidemic of service dog fraud is the fact that it discredits and disparages legitimate service dogs and their owners. Folks who are legitimately disabled and depend on their properly trained dogs to function would benefit from this new regime.