Regular pets passing as service dogs

FOX23 investigation finds out how easy it is to get a service dog badge for a regular dog.

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Disgusted - 2/5/2013 8:28 PM
0 Votes
I have a friend who uses a fake service dog vest to get her dog on airplanes. She never bothers to crate train the dog, so therefore had no way to get her dog from point A to point B. It was as simple as going online and buying a vest. Now the dog is a regular traveller (I mean at least once a month) on flights between major metropolitan cities. More often than not she gets an upgrade to first class, and if there is no one sitting beside her on the plane she lets the dog sit on the seat. This is not a well trained dog by any means and it barks, cries and often "stinks up" the plane. She claims that the dog is a "seizure alert dog" and that no one can question her about it. She claims that under the disability act no one is allowed to ask her about her (fake) disability, and this includes TSA personnel. I am truly disgusted by this and fear that one day she will take the right for people who actually need service dogs on airplanes. It is a blatant misuse of the law and disrespectful to those with actual disabilities.

candicenkiki - 11/11/2012 3:07 PM
0 Votes
I just retired my 9 pound Service Dog after 7 years of working with me. She saved my life more times than I can count! and yes I am disabled... This article makes me upset because it makes it sound like because my SD was small that I'm a faker....soooo not true! I call for a redo with more accurate info on what a SD can do and how they come in all breeds/shapes and sizes!!!!

DFDK9 - 11/6/2011 10:59 PM
0 Votes
@ServiceDogUser - I am sorry, but you are incorrect. The ADA's definition of a Service Dog is a dog that has "been individually trained to do work or perform tasks" in the plural. One single form of work or single task do not qualify the dog as a Service Dog. Look at existing case law - which is where the term "demonstrable" comes from and where the minimum of three tasks come from. If your Service Dog were to ever be challenged in a court of law, not only would you need extensive training records proving your dog's training, especially if the dog is owner/handler trained, but you would also need to be able to demonstrate some of those tasks for the court and prove that your dog has been trained tasks that are actually demonstrable. And that's tasks, plural. Not singular. (Incidentally, I believe ADI also came up with the three-task minimum based on existing US case law.) Regarding individuals with psychiatric disabilities, I was using this as an example. The article above makes it sound like any individual with "anxiety" suddenly qualifies for a Service Dog. This is not the case. Only individuals who are considered to be disabled under the ADA's definition of the word - that being having an impairment that significantly limits them from doing everyday things - are qualified to use a Service Dog. If other medical devices place them in a position where they are no longer significantly limited, they don't necessarily qualify for a Service Dog anymore. Sutton VS. United Airlines is a piece of case law regarding this you may want to look at.

ServiceDogUser - 11/5/2011 12:23 PM
0 Votes
@DFDK9 - You are incorrect. A service dog that only does work, such as alerting, is still a legitimate service dog. The recent ADA changes came along with a statement that specifically said that alerting and working are legitimate things a service dog can do. Just because the dog can't perform on cue doesn't mean it's not a service dog. You're also incorrect in saying that an SD must perform at least three tasks. There is nothing in the ADA that says this. You're probably thinking of Assistance Dogs International's requirements, which are for three or more tasks. But handlers in the US are not required to meet ADI's standards. Additionally, someone with a psychiatric disability can have an SD even if there's medication that can control their symptoms. The ADA clearly states this. Most people would prefer to take less medication and use a service dog, and the law supports them in this.

DFDK9 - 11/4/2011 2:47 PM
0 Votes
"There's no law against pretending a dog is a service dog." This is incorrect. While the ADA does not cover this, the Department of Justice and state statutes certainly do. In the majority of states, pretending your dog is a Service Dog is only a misdemeanor but yes, it certainly IS against the law and you can be both fined and go to jail for it. I think it's sad that the article really missed a chance to explain what makes a Service Dog. First off, the person has to be considered legally (and not just medically) disabled. And second, the dog has to be trained specific tasks (plural - at least three) to help that specific person with their disability. There has been a lot of talk lately about Psychiatric Service Dogs. Many people assume that doctors can "prescribe" such a dog. This is false. A doctor can certainly recommend but not prescribe. Also, in order for someone to qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog, they'd have to have symptoms not controlled by medication and truly need the dog to do normal things (like going to the store or even just getting out of the house). The dog also has to have trained tasks. Providing "comfort" or being "calming" is not a task. The dog's mere presence is not a task. The dog has to actually DO specific things. ON COMMAND. That's why dogs trained JUST to alert, for example, to seizures or low/high blood sugar are NOT technically considered Service Dogs because the alert itself is not a demonstrable task. They'd still have to be trained at least three other things for the handler that *are* demonstrable tasks. I think your article completely missed a chance to educate people about what Service Dogs actually ARE. Instead, you've made it easier for posers to pass their pets off as Service Dogs by telling them there's really nothing businesses can do about it. (Which is also false, as noted above.)

scoutingmom - 11/3/2011 10:01 PM
0 Votes
I'm sorry that there are posers out there! Some people would not be able to be independent, go out into the world, function around a lot of people, and some of us could even die without our Service Animals! My dog alerts me to my blood sugars, so most of the time he seems like he is just out enjoying the day with me. But when something is wrong he is the MOST annoying dog I know! I had to go through several steps to be able to bring my dog to work with me. I had to do all the training, make sure that he did not give me signs for a high or low when nothing was wrong (he never has)! Get a note from my doctor and purchase a backpack and the ID tag. I am so grateful that I can take him everywhere that I go and I feel it is my privilege to share with people that he is a service dog and does have a specific job. I have only really had a problem at Reasor's at 21st & Yale. The security person at the door told me that ONLY seeing-eye dogs could come into the store. I tried to explain to him that he was incorrect. I was in a hurry so I asked for a manager, and they apologized to me and told the young man, that ANY service dog could come into the store! No more problems there! I have problems at other places, but not with the owners, but with the other customers! The owners or managers always stick up for me. I try to make a point of talking with the employees or managers when I first go in so they have no unanswered questions. I hope the poser’s never have to know what it is like to HAVE to have a service dog, because even though I love my dog and am so grateful for him, I do not like the reason that I have to have him! Thank you Champion Heidelberg’s Kodiak v Queridad 'aka' Kodi and thank you to every business and your employees that have welcomed us with open arms! Patty keystonegermanshepherds dot com

servicedoguser - 11/2/2011 10:45 PM
2 Votes
I have a service dog in Tulsa as well, and this is going to make ALL our lives more difficult! We already deal with so many access issues, and the police aren't well-versed on this. Anyone who is in Tulsa, with a service dog, feel free to contact me on We'll find a way to work on public awareness of ALL types of service dogs!

troublewow - 11/2/2011 10:36 PM
2 Votes
People passing off pets as service animals has always been around. But now service animals are now going to get a bad rap from your article. Also there is more types of service animals out there besides the standard seeing eye dog. And some come in small packages! Also we all can't go to kennels or organiziations for their outrages prices and long waiting periods to see if the animal will work for you. In fact I know from experience that a seizure alert dog that detect one seizure and no guarantee it will detect another seizure again. I was quoted $12,000 and at least one year waiting period. So I went to a trainer and he taught me how it was done. Now, I have trained several for myself and others! But with your article has just made my job harder to even used my service animal. When I look for a service dog for seizure they said I had a choice of a lab, sheperd or possibly a great dane. I told them I didn't want to be pulled anywhere with my arthritis. I also didn't want a scoop shovel in and a scoop shovel to clean up after a dog that big. All I wanted was mouth piece to tell to tell me ahead of time when I was going to have a seizure. So now I have my life and self respect back all in a beautiful 2lb. package. So if you want to tell me my dog isn't a sevice dog. I will reply that I work with the diability board to find out what I needed in a seizure alert dog!

Kit Azevedo - 11/2/2011 10:05 PM
2 Votes
This 'expose' really pisses me off. I am disabled. I have a service dog that is specially trained to mitigate my disability. The ADA protects my rights to go anywhere the general public is allowed with my service dog. The ADA does not require ANY ID cards or certification or even that my dog wear a service dog vest or ID. My dog is a smallish dog, but she is perfectly capable of saving my life, and she had done so on many occasions. I am often harassed in stores because my dog is smaller than the average service dog. It is stories like this one that continues to spread miss information about service dogs. How about next time you want to do a story where you break federal and local law, you do a little research about the laws you are planing on breaking. Google Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA business brief and spend about twenty minutes learning something so that you can pass on REAL TRUE FACTS!

SDHandler - 11/2/2011 9:39 PM
2 Votes
How incredibly stupid can you be? First, you broke state and federal law in the process of your investigation. Did you know you can go to jail for that? Do you realize there are state and federal penalties? Second you are giving a "how to" to people who want to fake it! Your investigation is going to make life harder for legitimate service dog handlers. Gee...Thanks. Do you not realize how much harder our lives already are compared to the able bodied? The info, just in the article is legally incorrect, with the "badge" thing. Geniuses....freakin Geniuses!
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