Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fake Service Dogs

A fake service dog sitting in a shopping cart.

Over the past two days, I have seen FOUR fake service dogs. The first was in a restaurant. Picture this. A woman who looks as if she is entering the Miss America pageant walks in to the restaurant pushing a pink stroller. Inside the stroller was a little purse pal type of dog, who was wearing clothes. The dog was even wearing rhinestone jewelry! On top of the dogs clothing, there was a little jacket that said “service dog”. Really? A service dog dressed in clothes, wearing jewelry and being pushed in stroller. Ya, right lady! People obviously don’t realize how stupid they look. The very fact that the “service dog” was being pushed in a stroller and not walking on its own four paws is a dead giveaway it is not a true service dog. I am sure if I asked this woman, she would tell me it was a “emotional support” dog. However, if she really knew anything about service dogs, she would know that therapy dogs do not have access rights.

One of the other fake service dogs I saw was today while I was shopping in Costco. We were checking out, and I heard someone question a lady about why her dog was in the store. Her husband pipes up and tells the store employee that it is a service dog. So I looked over and I saw yet another little purse pup who has no vest on what so ever. The dog was laying in the area of the cart where you would normally put a young child. The dog was laying on a pillow while it was being pushed in the cart. Come on people! If you have to push your dog in a damn cart, it is likely not a service dog!

I seem to have a radar for spotting these people, and when I see them it really upsets me. And it makes it difficult to train a real service dog when these little dogs are yapping, growling and barking at you. Besides the fact that this is completely illegal, it reflects badly on legitimate service dog teams and makes it harder for them to have their access rights. Service dog teams are granted access rights for the dog to help the person do something they cannot do themselves, or cannot do without great difficulty. Actually, dogs do not have public access rights, only person with the disability has these rights So what makes service dogs so different? First off, they have had at least 18 months to 2 years of intensive training, and are proofed to extreme levels. These are not just well behaved dogs, they have to be trained to such a degree that you can stake your life on them. They are also extensively groomed and very healthy to a level that it is safe for them to be in public places. This is not something that most pet owners have any real concept of. These dogs go through so much training to earn the right to be in public places, and it is very upsetting to see some one just take there pet and throw a service dog vest they bought on line on the dog and bring them in public places. That brings me to another way you can likely tell a real service dog from a fake one. If the dog is a true service dog it will have a harness on or a vest with the name of the organization from which it was trained. The vest does not just say “service dog”. I realize service dogs are not "required" to where a vest, but why wouldn't you have your dog where one if it was truly doing a service? It is easy to tell the vests that are bought "online" vs. ones that are issued from a school or legitmate organization. I haven’t even mentioned the problems these fake service dogs cause our real service dog teams. I also don’t think these people realize the liability they would have if their so called service dog injured a real service dog. In fact, I am willing to bet that they have no liability insurance on the dog that is supposedly providing them service. I am also willing to bet they think they are covered by their homeowners insurance, but homeowners insurance will not cover you when you are doing something illegal. Actually, these people probably have not even thought about their liability if their dog hurts another service dog. They are pretty much cluless! These people just need to keep their dogs out of places where they do not belong! Thank you very much :)


  1. I hate it when people do that! I saw a little Chiuaua (or however you spell it) in an Ikea two weeks ago. It was being carried by the owner and as soon as the owner saw me walking in with a legit service dog he put on a little jacket with fabric painted on letters "SERVICE DOG". Really know? I've already seen that your dog wasn't wearing a harness/jacket until I came in. It makes it so hard for us to train our dogs when people do this. And another time a little yip yip dog in a stroller almost attacked Royalty in the mall. Grrr....I wanted to scream at the owner and say that it was people like her that caused so much problems for people like me who are actually trying to do good in this world.

    1. Raiser, you have my sympathy. These selfish dog cheats need to be stopped. Store managers think their hands are tied, but they aren't. Shop owners need to understand that DOGS do NOT have guaranteed entry, even by ADA laws. Only PEOPLE have guaranteed entry. If any of those dog cheats went to court, they'd lose. They're committing federal fraud. Furthermore, other shoppers need to SPEAK UP and CONFRONT these cheats in PUBLIC. Give these managers something new to worry about - our backlash! Dog cheats are cowards who are betting on the rest of us being too polite to call them on their bullying. My husband and I confront these cheats all the time, and they frequently flee the store. Occupy Dog Cheats! Stop Fake Service Dogs!


    3. Mine is a Yorkshire Terrier and 99% of the time she is in my arms or in a stroller where she is protected from being stepped on. Not to mention she is closer to the area that I have my disabilty my head. She is a medical alert dog who has saved me numerous times. She will do a little low huff sound that nobody else ever seems to notic and she will not stop unail she sees me grab my medication.

    4. I have a Pomeranian that alerts me when my sugar drops too low so it's sad to see people make comment when they don't know the whole story,

  2. Thankfully I've only had one major run-in with another service dog. It was a beautiful, giant, male golden retriever. Of course, he wasn't wearing a jacket. His owner claimed that he was an "emotional support" dog and that she forgot his jacket. At first he appeared to be really well trained, for which I was thankful. I was less than impressed a few seconds later when he growled and then bit the puppy I had with me. Yikes! That's probably the last time I will be friendly to someone like that handler.

    1. I hope you got her info and sued her. These people need to feel the consequences for their actions.

      And stay tuned for opportunities to support new/ revised legislation to STOP this ABUSE of the ADA laws!

  3. Ugh. We all need to do something about this trend. I had an encounter with a fake service dog and it put me and my real guide dog at risk. I was too stunned to say anything. Next time I need to speak up. If we all keep silent, it's never gonna get through to any of these people. If they don't have consequences, if businesses don't know their rights, it's never gonna change.

  4. Actually...I disagree. So much so I wrote a post about it. Grins. You can read it HERE.

  5. Good post. :)

    You definitely present a good argument. I thought about commenting, but I'm not even gonna touch it lol. Kinda like how I won't talk about dog food in public hahaha!!!

    Great post though, and I definitely respect your views. I guess my one negative experience with a dog that was supposed to be a service dog has me jaded.

  6. @Ro Hey I posted to hear people's with comment moderation I don't have to publish! heehee. But I can understand your views, but as I said there have been some organization trained sd's that will put us to shame, yet the general public still stays open minded to the rest of us. THANKFULLY! haha

  7. While I agree that Fake SDs are a terrible crime and generally a bad thing to do, I disagree that all legitimate service dogs come from schools. Service dogs can be owner trained for a number of reasons. I know of one person who has a Saint Bernard for mobility issues. This isn't a dog that she could get through a school and the goldens/labs that typically come through the schools wouldn't work for the work that she needs done. A number of people, myself included, train their own Psychiatric Service Dogs (see Follow our journey at Paige is invaluable to me even though she can't, and shouldn't, go with me everywhere yet. She is in training but isn't ready yet. Psych dogs train for 1-2 years typically but can train much longer than that. Those of us who deal with psych dogs in a serious manner are very dedicated to the standard that we train them to. We work to match the schools at the very least. Paige is invaluable to me. She is currently laying under my desk at work. Prior to her, I was missing work quite often. Now that I have her to help deal with my anxiety and bipolar symptoms, I make work nearly every day (now missing 1 day every other month. Previously missing 1 day every week or two.) Paige lets me be a productive member of society.

    The dog in the stroller isn't a working dog. There is no way he can do a job from there. It is possible that the dog that lunged is a dog in training and they are rushing him into public situations too quickly. The dog in the cart may be a working dog. Some dogs need to be up higher to do their jobs properly. They may be carried in purses or in special carrier that the handler can wear. Service dogs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and breeds. Please don't judge until you know the whole story.

    Under the ADA (in the states), you are not required to vest your dog and you cannot be required to disclose what your disability is. If you are rude enough to ask, you'll probably be told that it's a medical response dog. These vague rules make it very hard for those of us who have invisible disabilies because there are many fakers who look like us. There is a big difference between a pet and a working animal.

    Becareful when you judge. Sometimes the "legitimate" teams do more harm for us than the fakers.

    1. Thank you for this post. I was bristling, because my husband has both diabetes and a bad back from a fall at work that required 5 operations so far. He has difficulty carrying the diabetes dog far, even though it's a dachshund and doesn't weight a lot, so the dog has to be in the near part of a cart to do his job. There are so many different situations.

  8. Erin,

    Good post. I totally respect your opinion, but I have to say based on my experience the "few" that might be legit are in the minority. Most of these dogs are NOT providing a service to anyone. They are just pets of people who think they should have the right to take their dog everywhere they go. This is becoming a HUGE problem for our true service dog teams as people tell their friends, etc. where to buy a service dog vest so that they too, can bring their dog along for shopping trips. Most people have no idea how to train their own dog for something like this. My hat is off to those who truly do it.

  9. Well, I agree that the dog in the stroller was a fake, and any dog that is not behaving well should not be in a public place, even if it is a real service dog (or one in training). However, in general I have to agree with Erin and Melanie on this one. Yes, fake service dogs are becoming a real nuisance in some areas, and people who claim their ill-mannered pet dog is a service dog, just so they can bring it into public places with them are not only breaking the law, but making it tougher for those of us with real working dogs.
    However, identifying a real service dog can be a challenge, because you can't base it all on appearance. There is an organization in my home town that trains service dogs and probably 80-90% of those dogs do not look at all like a "typical" service dog, since many of them are small (usually mixed) breeds and don't often wear vests or harnesses to identify them as SDs (since this is not required by the ADA). Most of them are seizure alert dogs or diabetic alert dogs, or sometimes dogs that alert to noises for the hearing impaired. I've often encountered them riding in shopping carts or on the handler's lap in scooters or wheelchairs so that they can be at a good height to get their handler's attention when it is necessary to do so. Also, I suppose it's worth mentioning that on the other end of that scale, this same local organization has been known to train some very large breed dogs like Mastiffs and Great Danes for people who need balance support.
    Since it's actually illegal to ask a handler anything more than "what tasks does your dog perform to help you", I tend to base my judgment more on behavior, not just of the dog but of the person. Of course, even that is not foolproof, especially if your real service dog is just having one of those "off" moments.

  10. I have enjoyed everyones opinions on this issue. I have even edited my orginal post a little be to more accurate. I would like to add that many of these fake service dogs give themselves away by their unacceptable behavior in public and around other dogs (like my puppy in training). Like I mentioned in my post, growling, barking, hackling, baring teeth. Most of the dogs I have seen do this are little dogs. True service dogs that act like that would have been career changed. So I rely on behavior just as much as I do how the dog is presented. Thanks again for all of your comments!

    1. You have to.take into account Dogs have their own language. My service dog a toy breed which is irrelevant, is very vocal and I'm thankful she is. She is there to consontrate and work so when a member of the public bends straight over her with their hands staring in her face and saying hello my dog does bark and very loudly. She has been attempted to be stolen from behind very quietly, she responded by Barking as loud as possible and jumping at my leg. I have more issues with people than other dogs. The then nicely person who got told go away I don't know you don't want to know you or have you touch me, then becomes a vicious little horrible thing!! Leave service dogs alone people.

  11. Good topic - I too get very frustrated when I see obviously fake service dogs.. Darrell and I once encountered a PREGNANT Great Dane with no leash.. nothing bad happened other than the dog stopping and staring us down while her handler walked away talking on the phone so we had to wait for her to come back and get her dog.. (she was big and blocking the doorway)

    The only thing I had a problem with doesn't even regard the issues being talked about..

    @Melanie, I don't think its rude to ask if people's service dogs are legit.. I have been asked several times by people who don't see the jacket and I have no problem educating people. I appreciate being asked because I know that the next dog that comes into a store will get the same treatment and maybe it will make a difference to the people bringing in fake ones..

  12. I don't think anyone is saying that the only real service dogs are guide dogs. I'm sure that people with service dogs for deafness, diabetes, seizures, etc, encounter the same problems with people pretending their dogs are service dogs.

    I think we have been very educated on what small dogs do. I certainly didn't know about smaller dogs doing their jobs from pouches and things. I think that's awesome.

    I think the point of all this, is that we've all had issues with pet dogs being posed as service dogs, or maybe even legit service dogs, whether school or owner trained, behaving badly and creating an issue for our service dogs, or service dogs in training.

    I really don't think that any bad mouthing was intentionally done, and I apologize for my comments if it seemed that way. We can all agree that there are many different service dogs, and I bet all those different types of handlers have had issues with other dogs.

    I know I would not be offended if anyone asked me why I needed a dog. Ask away. I think we need to have some kind of line of questioning, to keep all our different service dogs, and handlers, safe.

    1. There are 2 questions that can be legally asked. "Is this a service dog/are you disabled?" and "what task(s) is the dog trained to perform?"

      Any business can kick a aggressive, not potty trained, misbehaving, not under he handler's control, or barking dog out of the store legally. Most businesses don't know their rights are afraid of a lawsuit and so do not try kicking people out.

  13. not to stir the pot, but the other issue is that folks are bringing all manner of animals in and claiming they are service animals. I do think it is ok to ask what is the task your animal performs, because in California your animal needs to perform some sort of task that helps the person in their day to day life. I had a hard time believing that the rosy boa constrictor that this kid tried to bring into class was going to perform a task. He simply tucked the snake under his shirt and went on his way. That example is extreme (I live in LA nothing is normal)but more and more I am seeing people bringing in animals (dogs included) that have no business being out in public. Other forms that I have seen are against licensing or certification but if your animal is legit then why not?

  14. Carrie,

    Thank you for your post. You bring up an EXCELLENT point. I agree that licensing and/or certification of service animals would help greatly with this issue. That would solve the problem of idenifying a real service dog from a fake one! Like you say, if the animal is legit, what is the objection?

    1. I don't think that this would help anything... Business owners need to know when they have the right to ask a "service" dog to leave. My objection is that I don't want to have to disclose the nature of my disability to anyone other than my doctor, ever. Just because I object doesn't mean I'm not "legit." There are fake driver's licenses so people under 21 can go drinking! Why would you think that having an "official ID" or certification would keep people from bringing their dogs into places? The technology to forge documents and id's is out there and not all that hard to gain access to. And I'm sure people will sell the fake IDs in the underground just like they do now for people under 21 years old. Oh, and driver's licenses didn't stop stupid people, drunk people, etc, from driving on the roads... did they?

      The answer is no.

      I'd like to keep my rights without regulations being forced upon me. It is my right to owner train, not have to prove to anyone anything to enter a store (just like a normal person wouldn't), and keep my medical history private.

      But you are not a disabled person who relies on their dog in order to have a taste of independence, so I am not sure you will ever understand. IMO, unless you yourself are a disabled person that relies on a SD your view on how to handle this stuff is a little skewed.

  15. Certification/Registering would be a huge issue. Here's why the board that revised the ADA had to say about why they aren't requiring certifiction/registering of service dogs and why you may *not* ask for certification: “a documentation requirement of this kind would be unnecessary, burdensome, and contrary to the spirit, intent, and mandates of the ADA.”

    This blog brings out a lot of good points, including but not limited to the certification as well as why harnesses/jackets/etc are not required since jackets can not only get in the way of some types of "tasks" some dogs are trained but they can be extremely difficult/nearly impossible for some people using service dogs to put on their dog. Remember, the ADA and service dog laws aren't just for those with visual impairments but for people with disabilities like cerebral palsy, MS, brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries and even quadraplegics that are able to use dogs can, and often do, have very very limited mobility, including with their hands and fingers. Small dogs riding on laps can provide deep pressure by placing their bodies in certain areas for people with PTSD or other disabilities that have an anxiety disorder component. Dogs in strollers (although I don't appreciate a service dog in a stroller and feel there are better ways) may have a physical reason (for the dog, or the handler) for the dog to need to be in a stroller and the dog can still alert to chemical changes in the handler. Jackets/tags/id cards/certifications paperwork can all be faked and is all the time. Most organizations print out id cards that are easy to make on a home computer system and that look no different. The ONLY way to identify a read service dog/vs a fake service dog is by the dog's behaviour and even that isn't fool-proof. My career-changed golden looks a ton healthier now than he did when he was in public and is better behaved, was he a "fake" SDiT then and if I took him out now, illegally, would anyone know the difference because he doesn't have a jacket on?

    I agree, something needs to be done, but what? We can't make certification a legal requirement as the manpower, money and logistics aren't feasible, and what standards would be required? We can't require documentation of a person's disability as that's a major breech of privacy and would be disgusting and documentation can be faked. Store owners need to be made aware of their rights and not be afraid to ask an ill-behaved dog to leave. They need to not be afraid of being sued for asking someone to leave, but instead they are so afraid of being sued that a dog can be practically howling in the restuarant and nothing will be said. It's a matter of educating and letting people know their rights, not of making more laws and requirments to burden those that *Need* these dogs with. They have enough going on and enough to worry about when having their assistance dogs with them than having to show certification everytime they enter an establishment, or be grilled about what their disability is. Pets being taken into stores is one of those things where our well-behaved, legitimate dogs will help people see that their pets shouldn't be in stores. Service dogs are becoming more and more popular and used for more and more disabilities, taking pets into stores is a new fad because of that and like most fads, will likely die down after not too terribly long. In the meantime, keep your puppies and working dogs safe from other dogs in public and work harder to train them to ignore other dogs while they're working. Nice debate, but a debate without an answer, like most.

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  17. A friend of mine saw someone with service rooster!! ....and it had ID!!! LOL. And yes it was raising cane in the doctors office where it was at. This is just one of those situations where there isn't much we can do, but be stellar examples to the rest of the world.

    1. before the law changed to dogs and mini horses only that was perfectly legal. I've heard of service rats, cats, and parrots that help with people's disabilities. I have a cat that alerts me, but sadly I have no public access rights with a Service Cat anymore... Now I have a poodle.

    2. Yes I know of a service squirrel for lady with ms at a court house!! The squirrel was well behaved. I ask isnt tat illigal as only dogs and horses are allowed by ada and was told it was grandfathered in as it was a service animal before the charge in ada law.

  18. I am not sure it has to be that complicated. Why couldn't this be done when you register your dog with the county? You have to do that anyway, right? So you could present certification of training from the school or organization that trained your dog, and the county could issue your dog a "special" service dog license. No need to make any mention of the disability. And most people who are truly disabled don't mind telling people how their service dog helps them. Then, if there was ever a question in public, the proof would be hanging around your dogs neck. Just sayin.

    Today I took my 16 year old son to the DMV for his driving test. He passed! But the point is this doesn't have to be any more complicated than that. My son had to "prove" he could drive, then when he passed his evaluation the DMV gave him a "Interim License" (special license) until he turns 18 years old. Seems pretty simple. But what do I know!

  19. You can get a service dog license, in fact San Francisco has service dog licenses, but there's no proof that the dog is a legitimate service dog since owner-trainers exist so there's no "proof". The DMV is very different, since if you want to use that comparison there would have to be places for people to "prove that their dogs perform tasks that mitigate their disability" which is much more complicated than you think. And A LOT of disabled people have problems discussing how their dogs help them, especially if it's an invisible disability they deal with.

  20. So anyone can just go to the county in San Francisco and get a service dog license? I don't think so. I know that some counties wave the fee for the service dog license, which is nice. The proof would simply come from the school or organization who trained the dog. Or, if an indivdual trained the dog they would have to be certified as a legit service dog trainer. While some people may not want to tell people how their dog helps them, I have never ran across anyone like that. Usually people talk on and on about how their dog helps them and they are very proud of their dog. That has been my experience and the experience of many other raisers. I am not saying everyone feels that way, but many do.

  21. The issue is the hardship that puts on the handlers of the dogs. Getting certified as an assistance dog trainer isn't "just", it's a complicated process. And yes, anyone can get a service dog tag for their dog in San Francisco, the questionnare for the tag is, at most, like the questionnare for the online "certification" papers. The point is, the laws can't make having a service dog more difficult for legitimate service dog users in the effort to keep fakes out, as you'd be keeping out some people who legitimately need these dogs at the same time. And people like talking to people *involved* with service dogs but not the general public. Big difference. There is *no legal solution* to the issue, because we (read: service dog *handlers*) can deal with a relatively small number of pets in establishments, or they can deal with the ability to take their service dogs in public being much more of a hassel. The choice, from a *handler's standpoint* is easy. The choice from a *raiser's standpoint* is a lot different as we don't rely on these dogs. I think you're way over-simplifying the issue by saying "they would have to be certified as a legit service dog trainer." How is that solving the issue? Certifying the human, or certifying the dog both equal a major hassle that can still be lied about.

  22. How will that solve the issue? You mentioned in a previous post the problem of "proof". If a dog is trained through a school or organization, this is a moot point because the proof is easily attainable. You brought up the issue of owner trained dogs, so making the trainer certified to do this would solve the proof problem in that situation. Which brings me back to the original point of my post. And while no solution is prefect, it is sure better than what we have now, which is nothing. Fake service dogs put our real teams in jeopardy and lessens the value of service dogs in general. This solution does not really make it more difficult for the users of these dogs. They have to register their dogs anyway. It is a piece of paper and a dog special dog tag. It is doable if people would stop trying to complicate the issue.

    Thank you to everyone who commented on this post. I appreicate all viewpoints on this issue.

    I believe it is now time to close this post to additional comments.

    1. If you were familiar with the ADA law then you'd know that there is already a solution. Service dog handler's and advocates need to EDUCATE the businesses and the public. A dog that is misbehaving, not potty trained (potties inside store.), aggressive, barking, etc can be LEGALLY ASKED TO LEAVE THE STORE/FACILITY and, in some cases, banned from returning with the dog. Especially if its a repeat offender. (every dog can have an off day... but SDs shouldn't have off days over and over again.)

      The "solution" sure as heck makes it more difficult for me to live my life. Its one more hoop I have to jump through, and it hurts to jump.

  23. hi! what a great conversation ! everyone made so many good points . i have no problem going up to someone with a suspicious or questionable service dog and asking questions , or even calling them out on there lies . at the store near my house i saw a "service poodle" poop on the floor . i walked up to the woman and said " thats not a service dog , thats a pet " she claimed it was for depression . i informed her that Emotional Support dogs do not have public access . when i see a fake service dog - i confront the owner .

  24. I agree there needs to be a higher standard for those who obtain service dog tags. There's a new neighbor who moved into one of the No Pet Apartments next door and only after several months did the little purse dog suddenly appear. I can hear the barking when someone approaches the door. When confronted by the owners, it was supposedly a Service Dog. My guess is it's a fake service dog since the owner is in her early 20s with no apparent physical disability. There are other tenants who are allergic to the dogs, so if that dog owner is faking the disability, I believe she should be prosecuted. The apt owner can not evict her since it's supposedly a "service dog" and per the articles I've read, only a federal judge can make the owner prove she even has a disability. She looked pretty physically fit riding a bike.

  25. Be careful with that - not all disabilities are outwardly seen - there are certain disabilities called 'invisible disabilities' and while I in no way want to defend a person with a fake service dog - its not always as easy to see what they are used for. There are plenty of people with mental disabilities that find relief in the form of a service dog so again.. just be careful with it.. :)

  26. I understand not all disabilities (if emotional like PTSD) can be seen, so your point is well taken. I just think too many people out there are abusing the system, like those non handicapped people who obtain a fake note from their doctor to park closer or to evade paying meters. I watched many real handicapped people not being able to use spaces originally intended for them. My opinion that this is a faux service dog is based on the dog owner's actions. I have seen the dog owner hide the dog when the landlord came around. If this were a legit situation, why the need to hide the dog when the law is in the so called disabled owner's side? It only came out when confronted by the landlord. In San Francisco, obtaining a service dog tag is just as easy and abusive as obtaining a fake handicap placard.

    1. A person can be physically able to ride a bike but still have emotional/psychological disabilities like bipolar or depression. A purse dog is more than capable of helping a person tell if they are hallucinating or not. Or do tasks to help mitigate depression... Even someone with fibro can ride a bike. I used to ride my bike across campus to class before it got stolen because it was less stress on my painful body than walking a across campus and I'm sure I looked fine riding it. Now, if the owner is acting shady in other ways, like hiding the dog from the landlord, then that's another story. But what you were pointing out earlier has no bearing on whether or not the dog is legit.

  27. I agree with Melanie. I have a service dog for chronic pain, he is a miniature doxen that I trained myself.
    - It is very important to know that vests/badges/etc. are NOT required. I have considered having a vest for Sam, but he hates clothes and has very sensitive skin. Since it is not required I have not gotten a vest for him yet, but he does have a photo ID that help when in public.
    - Dogs do not have to have training by an organization, there is also not a specific length of time they need to be trained for. It depends a lot on the task they are doing. For a dog alerting to a seizure, a lot of dogs naturally sense the seizure coming on and its the basics of training the dog how to alert.
    - I often put my coat/a blanket down in the front of the cart for Sam. Having him in the cart helps me a lot more (I can put my arthritic hand on him, he easily distracts me from pain, etc.) There are no specifications in the ADA about the carts, but if it is a problem with a store owner he can walk. But walking him and having him low to the ground doesn't help me as much. I put a blanket down for his comfort and so people don't have a problem with a dog being in the cart.
    - A service dog can be carried. They come in all shapes and sizes and can do a diverse range of tasks. For Sam's safety I carry him when getting on trains/buses and in crowded places. I also carry him when my restrictive lung disease or asthma is bad (his warm body helps calm the muscles of the chest wall). I had police officers approach me saying he can't be a service dog because I am carring him. Obviously this is completely false and is frustrating for people using service dogs in any way other than a guide dog.
    - I also have a sling that he goes in when it is very cold out or if it is very icy and we are walking an extended distance. This is for both of our comfort and doesn't change his status as a service dog.

    It is importnat to remember that people have invisible disabilities. I understand your frustration, I too get frustrated when people see me with Sam and say "I'm going to sneak my dog in too!" But I try to always keep an open mind when I see other dogs in public places. I love learning about the ways dogs help people and I know how hard it is for me when people come up to me acting as if I am "faking" a disability and it upsets me. I am disabled, I would prefer to not be, but I am doing the best with what I have. I may look normal to most, but I have a lot going on in my body that can't be seen and it is helpful when people of the public don't assume that Sam can't be a service dog due to his size, how he is positioned in public, what he is/isn't wearing, and if he has gone to a professional school.

  28. I personally train my service animals, and take pride that I have the ability to through the organizations that have made that possible. Waiting on a waiting list for however long does not make my life any easier.
    My comment is on dogs in strollers. I have one for mine. He is a seizure allert dog and can do his job from the stroller. For me the stroller also acts as a walker as I am physically inable to walk without assistance. So there may be real reasons behind the stroller, the clothing or what have you. You ask people to not be judgemental of you and your disabilities, don't be judgemental of them. If you have issue, bring it up with a manager of the establishment and they can handle reason for anyone to get in a tiffy about it....not saying that I am not annoyed a little when I do not see a properly jacketed dog, that just makes it easier on everyone.

  29. I would like to point out that not all disabilities are ones you can see. Dogs used for blood sugar, fainting, migraines, etc could be chihuahuas or "purse dogs" or really any kind of trained dog. I don't think you have a right to judge the "Miss America" with a yippy dog - you have no idea what condition she may have. As for fake tags, that goes without saying, but you shouldn't assume someone must have a fake because you can't see anything wrong with the owner. It isn't our business.

  30. I am training my own service dog. He is a black standard poodle. I'm training my own because I have several different needs that I cannot get a trained dog from a single organization.

    It really upsets me when people take a "service dog elitist" stand point on all this... A dog DOES NOT need to wear a vest. I have a friend with a small dog that doesn't vest her dog partly because it can be so hot. When she goes to costco she puts him in the baby seat with a towel covering the cart because it is much safer for him there than it is for him on the floor. People just don't pay attention when they're walking around and he's been stepped on in the past.

    NOT ALL DOGS COME FROM ORGANIZATIONS! That is the first and foremost thing that infuriated me about this post. I know of many people who have owner trained dogs. Not all are dog training experts and so work with a private trainer who is familiar with training working dogs. Some dogs even come from private trainers alone. I have seen and heard of many SDs who were not well behaved and/or aggressive towards people and other dogs that came from "legitimate organizations." So, in fact, a dog may come from a "legit org" and still not be a well trained service dog...

    Its thinking like that that has got us in such a pickle with the new law regarding VA facilities banning all non-ADI SDs... How am I supposed to go visit my father in the hospital? Oh, I can't. Not without being taken care of myself! My service dog, as well has my dad's (chiweenie) are not allowed to be there!

    Not every unvested, or small, or odd breed dog is a fake service dog. Some people like to dress up their service dog from time to time... Its not a crime even though it seems unprofessional.

    Its people that think like that that break my heart sometimes. I have been walking through a store minding my own business, dog being a perfect poodle gentleman, and been glared at by other SD teams from a "legit org" because I have a poodle, in a blue hand made vest that says "medical alert service dog. Do not pet" and am deemed a "faker" before they even know whether or not I'm disabled and what he does for me. Its rude, and insensitive, and it breaks my heart.

    Can't we just be accepting and supportive, or at least get the whole story before we call people names like "faker" and "hugger"?

  31. I have an owner-trained service dog. He's got a few kinks that need to be ironed out still, but he does his jobs well and behaves himself properly. I use him for mobility and for PTSD and psychological work. I don't generally mind being asked what he does for me since I am very proud of him, but there are some days when I don't have the energy to talk, so I appreciate not having to explain to random strangers what he's for. And then there are people like one woman, in Petsmart of all places, who just bluntly asked,"So what's wrong with you?" I think that's the only person I've ever had a problem with asking about him. But it's not a requirement and i don't think it should be, becasue I know several SD handlers who can't cope with being asked about their dog constantly or even occasionally.

  32. OMG. this is terrible. who are you people? the service dog police?

    it is hard enough to admit a disability exists, be it physical or otherwise. do you not have anything better to do than judge others?

    it's so difficult to be out in public with a visible or invisible disability without having the very people who should be so compassionate out trying to spot the fakes, when, in reality, you don't know what the disability is.

    licensing? do you know what i would do? i would not have a service dog. i would never admit to anyone but my doctor that i am admitting that i am disabled. that i need help.

    and now i have to be concerned that my dog is under YOUR scrutiny?

    get a life. better yet. hug your dog. be thankful you can have a service dog. and leave karma to karma.

  33. Wow, who'd have thought this post would be so popular almost two years later? I'm gonna unsubscribe from comments now. ;)

  34. Any dog, service dog or otherwise, should not be brought anywhere outside of it's home and fenced property if it is disruptive, poorly trained, or a threat to animals or people. Companion animals, emotional supports animals and therapy animals should not be allowed public access. Business owners can only follow the law which is written broadly to protect service dog users and ensure we can continue to bring our dogs anywhere the public is allowed.

    It is impossible to know someone's disability or lack thereof by looking at them. Many disabilities vary, some as much as hourly. A psychiatric disability can also vary widely with little or no outward signs for the casual observer to pick up. The little dog may be a medical alert dog which is more able to do it's job from a purse because it needs to be close to it's handlers face to pick up chemical cues.

    Some days I can walk, even run short distances without assistance. Others my balance is so bad I have difficulty walking a short distance safely. I bring my owner trained service dog with me because I do not know when I will need him.

    It is also difficult to know a service dog by appearance only. Gear is not required by the ADA. While some states do have gear or identifcation requirements for service dogs, most do not. Clothing and other adornments may be taken less seriously are the decision of the owner/handler. Many choose bright colors for harnesses, vests, leashes. I see them both as an expression of the handler's individuality and do not see much difference between the two. It is the opinion of others which makes the difference between what is considered gear and costume.

  35. Who are you to judge if they are fake or not? Not all service dogs are guide dogs. I actually have a seizure disorder and I have a small dog who can sense when I am about to have one, even when I feel like I am fine. She will begin to bark frantically, alerting me that something is up. And guess where I put her when I am in the grocery store?..In my cart. Also, there are specially trained dogs for people with psychiatric illnesses such as PTSD. Guess what? Most dog breeds can be made into service dogs for these folks. Please get off your soapbox and realize just because it doesn't seem legitimate to you, doesn't mean it isn't.

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  77. I personally have a service animal that happens to be a chihuahua. I suffer from seizures and back problems caused by a auto accident i chose a small dog because it is easier for me to take care of. And yes they are a cold natured dog. Yes i do dress her. But i live in an area where the tempatures in the summer are in the upper 90's to the lower 100 degree range. I use clothing that have a tempature decal on them that will change colors if my dog is over heating. In the winter she wears coats when needed. I also either carry her in a pouch or in a sling for her safety. People just dont see her and i dont want her stepped on. Also children dont relize she is a working animal and want to pet her. My back has really been giving me problems. The type of pain that puts you on your butt. So i was thinking of purchasing a pet stroller. It would not only keep her safer but it would allow me to possibly walk longer distances since its something to hold on to for better balance and still be in her line of sight. As well as be able to walk more than 5 feet with out someone stopping me to ask to pet her even though her pouch has service animal patches with her id# on it. People act like they have never seen a dog in public. Even though she is well behaved and only barks if i am going to have a seizure i dont like it when people try to pet her with out asking. A enclosed stroller would end that issue. But after reading some of the remarks made about service animals being called fake because they have clothing on or there being
    carried and not on a leash walking on the groung. Im glad im not there pets. Im sorry i take care of my service animal. She is my best friend. She keeps me from hurting myself on objects that i could really hurt myself on while having a seizure. And i owe it to her to make sure she is safe while doing her job. If people dont understand that then im sorry. I know there are people out there that want to bring there pets and claim there service animals when there not. But if people would do a little research all it takes is to ask to see there cards or the animals tag. They will both have the animals registered id number on them.

    1. I think that's an awesome idea! I dress my dogs as well. I'm shopping for strollers as we speak. There is nothing wrong with caring for your animal. People find it amusing, and do not understand the love you and your service animal share. Never mind what anyone thinks. Do as you wish.

  78. ESA animals are real. They are not fake. There are abusers out there, just like with anything else. I own two ESA animals. If you see them in a store, they should NOT be there. ESA animals only have two laws that protect them. They may go on a flight with you and stay in your home. If a sign says service animals are permitted, you may go in, if they ask you to leave, you have to leave! ESA service animals do not carry the same weight as regular service animals. ESA animals can be ANY TYPE of dog. There are also NO BREED DISCRIMINATION LAWS too. Education is key. Thanks!

  79. Usually the real teams are vested and geared up, unless its extremely hot. However so many are owner training, like myself because we can't afford a $30,000 dog and as such our vests say service dog no organization patch. We are still very much legit teams. Often you will see them with task specific patches like medical alert dog, but not always. Could real registration defeat most fakes? Yes. But it would also open up a entirely different can of worms for owner trained SDS. Bottom line, fake registrys need to be illegal, and people need to stop being selfish jerks. Until that happens we won't get any peace unfortunately. Thats why I just stay clear of any other teams that may seem questionable. Safest for my dog.

  80. Help stop the sale of these service dog vests to untrained dogs/owners... sign this petition

  81. How wrong you are about disabilities and service dogs. First not all disabilities are visable just because you cant see the disablity dont mean their isnt one. Second for some service dog/ disability teams a stroller is crucial! I have MULTIPLE disabilities but unless my M.S.
    (Muscular Sclerosis) flares you wouldnt know at a glance anything was wrong with me. I have high functioning A.S.D (autism spectrum disorder), P.T.S.D (post traumatic stress disorder) and M.S. as my primary disabilities. I tried the use of a mobility dog but the slightest accidental pull can trow me off balence and Ive been known to tangle my cane with the dog and fall (my fault not the dogs). So currently I have a 18 lb corgie-beagle mix who is trained for my needs. Her primary job in public is to help with anxiety from ptsd and autism. She alerts me if someone is walking up to me and is about to enter my comfort zone, she calms me and distracts me from situations that are hard for me. Because she is a smaller dog she is very low to the ground which with the ms is hard for me to bend down to and her weight is to much for me to carry her very far. The stroller raises her up to were I can reach her if I need her. It also provides me with a mobility support holding onto the stroller like a walker. She is up and out of the way so she dont cause an accidental fall but if I need her lets say I dropped something and like I said bending to floor is a issue of mine, I can unzip and point at the item dropped and she can get it and get back in stroller were she "hands" it to me.She can do all her jobs in a simular way from the stroller. At home she is trained to stay when I get up and wait until I call her to were I need her to prevent falls but it also is done the same way as in public only she waits in the stroller when out and about and waits were I last needed her at home. As far as her dress she dont wear a service vest she dont need an embarrassing sign on her back to do her job. She normally wears a t-shirt in summer and a sweater in winter and she has a baby blanket with her as she loves to lay under it !!!! Would you like to ask my medical team if she is a real service dog ? They would say she is but maybe you think you know more than they do.