Sunday, January 29, 2023

Letter to my Senator regarding service dog fraud

                                        John Q. Public
                                        123 Main St.
                                        Pensacola, FL 91234
January 31, 2023

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

RE:  Curbing service dog fraud via Revision to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Dear Senator Rubio,

Service dog fraud is an extremely serious problem that needs to be solved.  Under the protection of the ADA, dog owners are abusing rules meant to help the truly disabled.  This behavior violates Federal, State and local health and safety laws as well as the association rights of others.   Fraudulent service dogs have injured bystanders and legitimate service dogs.   This extremely damaging behavior needs to stop.

The ADA requirement under consideration is expressed here:   under “Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals”.   It states that “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. 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. 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.”

The clause highlighted and underlined above is the root of the problem.  Without a straightforward proofing system, any dog owner can lie about their disability and / or service dog credentials.  That said, I propose the following change to the ADA, Service Animal Requirements:
Remove the clause stating “Staff cannot…. Require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog”.
Special permits, issued by a regulatory body, should be a requirement for any and all service dog related activities.  Permits may be issued to those that meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. Provide formal training documentation for the dog in question to the regulatory body indicated, OR
2. Demonstrate the dog’s ability to perform the service or task indicated to said regulatory body.
Penalties should be applied to those who do not comply with the revised provisions.

Pursuant to the above, the committee should open an investigation into exactly who is protected by these laws, and what constitutes legitimate service dog tasks.

Senator, thank you very much for taking the time to read my letter.  Your attention to this matter is very much appreciated.

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