Dogs & Laws

The Four-Legged Scandal No One Is Talking About

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Stacie Kitchner’s 4-year old, loyal, obedient, well-behaved Golden Retriever, Sam, goes everywhere she goes. In the mornings, Stacie sometimes outfits Sam with a vest or bandana, sometimes not. They dine at restaurants together, go to the bank, shop at the mall. When they travel, 67-pound Sam rides on-board with Stacie, not in the cargo hold with the other dogs his size.

Forrest Brifton’s 5-year old loyal, obedient, well-behaved Golden Retriever, Chaco, goes everywhere he goes. Each morning, Chaco is outfitted with a vest. Large, white block letters spell out “Service Dog” along the side. Forrest carries a National Service Dog Registry identification card in his wallet along with an official letter from a doctor prescribing him a dog. Together, they dine at restaurants, go to the bank, visit the mall, and travel on-board airplanes.

Can you identify which of these two is a legally recognized, legitimate Service Dog Team and which is a fake? Read on to discover which one is taking advantage of the system.

Want to take your dog with you anywhere? Take them into hotels that don’t permit dogs? Take them into stores and malls that don’t allow them? It’s simple. And in most states, it’s legal too. And no one dares utter a word in protest.

In June 2014, a “service dog” pooped in the aisle forcing a US Airways plane to make an emergency landing so a Hazmat team could enter and clean the carpet.

A ‘Service Dog Team’ is used to describe a service dog, that has been trained to meet specific disability-related needs, and the handler/owner for which the dog has been trained to assist. Legitimate service dogs are trained for hundreds of hours and can perform a variety of specific tasks tailored to their handler, such as opening doors and picking up items, providing guidance to the visually impaired, to sniffing out allergens and alerting to oncoming seizures, or calming a person with stress or panic disorder and many, many more.

More specifically, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal 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 dogs, because of the wide variety of services and assistance they provide, come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Yes, any dog, from a 2-pound Chihuahua to a 200-pound Newfoundland, as long as they are providing a necessary service to a disabled handler, can legitimately be service dogs. Likewise, the handlers who service dogs assist can include those with obvious physical limitations, like blindness or mobility impairments, or those with “invisible” disabilities, like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or mental illness, and many conditions in between.

Service dogs are not “pets.” They are as important to their handler’s day to day life, mobility, and ability to function as a wheelchair, crutches, or cane is to someone with a disability that warrants their use.

Additionally, the ADA protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service dogs in public places not normally considered dog-friendly.

State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.

There are, however, some requirements. Service dogs must be leashed, harnessed, or tethered unless such a device would interfere with the dog’s ability to perform his work, in which case the dog must be under full control of the handler through voice or hand signals.

Legitimate service dogs are well trained and a necessity to their handlers. They are trained to not be disruptive or cause a scene while in public. You will never see a service dog jumping up at people, barking or growling (unless alerting their handler to a problem), or even using the bathroom inappropriately.

Still, despite written laws the both define a service animal and explain the rights and requirements of service dog teams, the general public, including business owners and their staff, are largely unaware and misinformed.

Service dogs are NOT required to wear vests, collars, or bandanas that specifically identify them as a service animal, nor are the dogs or their handlers required to obtain certain licenses, identifications cards, or official certification. There is no central governing agency which either trains, certifies, or otherwise verifies the legitimacy of a service animal. There is no official training or obedience protocol that all service dogs must adhere to, simply that they cannot “cause a disturbance” while in public.

In fact, many legitimate, legal service dogs have been trained in the home setting, by their handler.

Although service dog vests, bandanas, or other forms of identification are not required, a vast majority of legitimate service dogs do wear them in a simple effort by their disabled handlers to avoid embarrassing, even disruptive or unsettling questions, to be left alone, or in hopes of peacefully going about their day without confrontation.

So, what’s to prevent a person, like Forrest Brifton, from fraudulently strapping a service dog vest onto his dog, Chaco, and walking through his local mall?

Truthfully, not much.

While the federal government has done an excellent job of putting easily enforceable laws into place that provide and protect the rights of disabled persons and their service dogs at a national level, little has been done to prevent the fraudulent misrepresentation of family pets as service dogs.

Ambiguity in the definition of a service animal, lack of a central governing and certifying organization, and fear of both public backlash and costly litigation by business owners have created loopholes in the system that are big enough to drive a truck through – and people by the tens of thousands are taking advantage.

Because of online service animal "certification" and registries, there are several pet iguanas that have been registered and issued documentation and ID cards claiming they are legitimate service animals.

Because of online service animal “certification” and registries, there are several pet iguanas that have been registered and issued documentation and ID cards claiming they are legitimate service animals.

In fact, the laws are so vague that, prior to May 2011 when the ADA updated their definition of a service animal to only include dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses, it wasn’t unheard of for people to claim a cat, a pet monkey, even an iguana was a legitimate service animal, thereby granting themselves the authority to bring those animals into restaurants, movie theaters, malls, banks, and precluding themselves from paying fees associated with bringing them into hotels, rental properties, and onboard airplanes – and, because businesses and staff don’t understand the laws completely, they see a vest and ID card and believe the animal is legit!

A simple google search for “service dog vests” returns over 4 million hits from websites offering “official service dog” vests, certification cards, ID’s, and official looking documents, some for the bargain basement price of $39. Many of these sites even provide customers with a written prescription, or “official” letter from a physician or psychiatrist detailing their “patient’s” need for a service animal. Just answer a few yes or no questions in an online questionnaire and, voila!

It is estimated that there are roughly 20,000 true, legitimate service dog teams in the entire nation, yet hundreds of thousands of vests, certificates, and ID cards are sold every year. It is perfectly legal, in all 50 states, to buy, sell, and possess a service dog vest. The big business of selling such paraphernalia rakes in millions of dollars each year, from both those knowingly bucking the system and those who sincerely believe that answering a few questions and putting a vest and ID card on their dog makes them legit.

Faking a service dog to gain access to public spaces is really not much different than using your grandmother’s handicapped parking placard – with two major differences: it’s easy to prove the placard isn’t yours, and the penalties if you’re caught are steep and easily enforceable.

Although the ADA’s service dog policies apply on a national level, the enforcement of those policies falls under the responsibility of each state. To date, only 16 states have specific written laws pertaining either  to the misrepresentation of  a service dog or to misrepresenting oneself as disabled. To view the written service dog laws in your own state, click here.

Many people claim their pets are service dogs simply to avoid placing their dogs in the cargo hold of airplanes during travel.

Despite all of the good established by ADA laws that protect the rights of the disabled, those same laws have left business owners and authorities with their hands tied. In an effort to protect the privacy of the disabled, very limited inquiries into the legitimacy of a service dog are allowed. Businesses, staff, and officials may legally only ask two questions to a service dog handler:

1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

It is unlawful to ask about a 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.

But, fixing the severely broken system isn’t quite as easy as you might think.

Not only is it next to impossible to disprove the legitimacy of a service dog team, the risks of attempting to do so far outweigh the rewards. For example, if staff suspect that a person entering their place of business alongside a dog is fraudulently doing so, they can ask the above two questions – which a person passing their pet off as a service dog will have no moral issue lying about. Still not convinced, they may ask the person and their dog to leave.

It’s very risky for businesses to deny access to people with service dogs, even when they suspect those dogs are merely pets. If they do so, and those suspicions prove to be unfounded, if the service dog team proves to be legitimate, they face serious civil penalties and fees upwards of $55,000 per offense.

Some people believe – regardless of the legislation – they have a right to take their dogs with them wherever they go. Places where dogs were traditionally not permitted are forced to look the other way because of the negative repercussions associated with denying entry to a service dog.

Last August, disabled veteran Richard Hunter was turned away from a Subway restaurant because of the presence of his service dog. A storm on social media followed.

How can a restaurant know the difference between a real service dog and a fake service dog? They can’t. And that is the heart of the problem.

On the other hand, if a person is found to be faking a service dog – unless they’re in one of those 16 states with written laws on the matter – they face no more than a proverbial slap on the wrist. Still, in those 16 states, the penalty is minor, usually a misdemeanor, and the fees typically range in the area of a few hundred dollars.

Unfortunately, we can’t rely upon the moral fortitude of individuals or an honor system to prevent anyone with the inkling to do so from faking a service dog.

So, what makes fake service dogs such a real problem?

It can be argued that the majority of people passing off their pets as service dogs aren’t doing so with ill intent. Instead, they’re simply trying to spend more time with the dogs they love.

However, those people that fake service dogs don’t consider the ripple effect of their actions.

True, legitimate service dogs are highly trained, incredibly well-mannered, and under the complete control of their handlers at all times whereas fake service dogs are often disruptive, they haven’t had the hundreds of hours of training and socialization required to handle the tasks of a working dog. Likewise, their handlers often lack complete control over their dogs and don’t appropriately handle having their access to public places challenged, as a trained service dog and an experienced handler with full knowledge of rights and responsibilities, as well as laws, would.

As a result, fake service dog teams create unnecessary discrimination toward legitimate teams. A business owner or their staff who has dealt with unruly behavior from a “faker” will immediately pass judgement on a true service dog team, the very minute they walk through the door. This discrimination leads to poor or even unlawful treatment of legitimate service dog teams in a variety of ways, like isolating them in an empty part of a restaurant, being ignored or overlooked by salespeople, following them around a store, etc.

Further, fake service dogs pose a genuine safety hazard not present in true service dogs. While service dogs are predictable, reliable, and trained to remain calm, quiet, and out of the way in a variety of circumstances, a family pet disguised as a service dog is most often not so reliable, making them a threat to both other patrons and to real service dogs that may enter the premises.

Disabled persons already inevitably deal with some form of bias or discrimination on a regular basis. The recent influx of fake service dog teams has created a culture where business owners and staff, more often than not, are suspicious of all service dog teams. Instead of assuming that most are legitimate and a rare few are fake, the common assumption is that most are fake and very few are real.

What can be done to solve the real problem of fake service dogs?

The solution isn’t entirely clear. While many have suggested the federal government take steps to create an official, legally recognized central registry, this solution could potentially infringe upon the privacy rights of the disabled.

In addition to a central registry, some argue that a specific, centralized training protocol needs to be established for all service dogs to adhere to. That program would include specific tasks that all registered service dogs must perform, like sitting under the table at a restaurant, not reacting to distractions, remaining calm at all times, staying out of the way, properly riding on an airplane, etc. However, since the tasks performed by service dogs vary so greatly from one handler to the next, developing a one-size-fits-all training program is an incredible – if not impossible – undertaking.

And then, there becomes the issue of providing resources for every single disabled person in the country to have access and the ability to become certified by a single, central agency, without creating excessive costs or infringing upon their rights.

There is no question, however, that those found to be misrepresenting their pet as a service dog need to be held accountable and legally reprimanded with stiff penalties that make the risk much greater than the reward. But without legislation, the problem will only escalate in the future.

In the meantime, more and more people are ordering service dog vests freely on the Internet.

79 Comments

79 Comments

  1. John Parsons

    Sep 3, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    You state, “Still not convinced, they may ask the person and their dog to leave.” This is incorrect. Only the dog may be ejected from the business, the individual may remove the dog and then return to complete his or her business.

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  3. Patricia Williams

    May 12, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Amazed at the attacks going on here by someone who seems to think that a guide dog (who clearly needs rigorous training to do their job) is the only type of service dog that is legit. My parents’s dog is self trained and also acts as a Therapy Dog visiting the handicapped. He is a little too friendly because of the amount of time he spends comforting disabled people, but other than that he is a great dog. He is trained to do everything that he needs to do to help both of my parents. He has been on trains, planes including a long trip to Hawaii. Even on rides at Disney World without a single issue. If you drop something he will have it picked up and back in your hands in no time. That is just one of the things he does for them. He usually walks with my mom but if he’s tired he ride on my dad’s scooter. They didn’t need a fancy group to train him to do everything they need help with. If there is something that they need in the future my mom will train him to do it.

    She gave me the confidence to start training our dog after we discovered that he could sense when my husband needed to check his blood sugar. We never trained him to do that we just realized that whenever J’s blood sugar levels were off S started licking my husband’s hand and whimpering. So we started training him to do other things that he needed to do in order to go places with us and possibly save my husband’s life. Most of the stuff was easy since he was already well behaved. We even taught him to pick things up for us since that was very helpful to my husband especially. He’s had 2 hip replacements and 5 back surgeries. (Degenerative disk disease) It can be painful for him to pick things up. I have a bad knee and it’s helpful to me too. Sadly he is no longer with us. But we are training our new dog to do some of the things that will help my husband.

    As a matter of fact our new dog M helps me clean the floors by bringing me anything that I point at. Now I am teaching her to pick things up and put them in the trash on command. We just started practicing going out in public and she is doing really well. Although she did bark at the pet shop, for some reason only at 2 of the dogs and they were with the same person. I corrected her all 3 times. She also barked (2 quick barks) at Burger King when a worker scraped a chair loudly right next to us. Heck it startled me too. And she was just a little nervous when the stocking carts in Walmart rattled by and once when we got in a crowd and she got crowded – but not crazy nervous. She just made a little jump away from the sound, sort of behind my leg. Since she is in training she doesn’t have to be perfect. I feel that as long as a dog isn’t barking and disruptive, doesn’t potty on the floor, and isn’t a danger to anyone then it’s really none of your business if they are or aren’t up to your standards. I suffer from PTSD after an attempted kidnapping (the guy also tried to kill me) and years ago I had an amazing dog who could sense my panic attacks coming on and he would come and comfort me usually before I’d really realized that I was in trouble. For 2 years I didn’t have a single major panic attack when I was at home. I always wished that I could take him with me everywhere. About the time I found out about being able to train your own service dog a neighbor walked down the street and shot him in our yard. I was in awful shape for months and I still miss him. He would have been very easy to train in a way that would have helped me. (I am sure that my doctor would have given me a note if I’d asked.) I shouldn’t be denied the right to self train and have a service dog because I can’t afford to pay someone to train my dog to act like a guide dog. I can tell you right now the dog that is a life saver to a blind or deaf person would be of no use to me or my husband.

    • Amade

      May 25, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      I completely agree with you. I self trained my mom’s sd, and I am currently looking for one of my own (ptsd). I kind of disagree with the new law that only if the dog is “task trained” to alert he qualifies as a service dog. To me it sounds like if the dog isn’t taught the behavior from the beginning he isn’t a service dog. My mom’s sd as a pup picked up when she or me were going to have a panic episode. He would come over and try to make us engage with him in some activity. We never had to really train it from the beginning, it was a natural thing that just came from him. Some people say that this is an ESA (emotional support animal), but this is a task and it doesn’t make him any less a service dog. The “behavior” does help mitigate my mom’s disability and it is a task. He alerts before an episode and will do his best to help you control and go through it. He now also helps my mom out with mobility issues. (picking up stuff she drops and bringing it up to her hands) I see Emotional Support Animals more like lap dogs or a pet to cuddle with when you feel bad. They dont “perform” a job to help you.

      I don’t agree with dogs that don’t have at least minimal public behavior. If they will bite me or lunge at me I don’t think they should be allowed into a public building, service dog or not. Business owners are afraid of kicking fakes out cause they are wearing a vest, but they sure don’t hesitate to kick out the dog that isn’t wearing all the bells and whistles.

      I think your sd is perfectly ok. We can’t expect our dogs to be robots, we humans ourselves sometimes make mistakes. Ignore the haters, there’s plenty of them everywhere on the web, especially on the sd subject. I don’t even bother on answering their comments.

  4. Nancy Mills

    Apr 29, 2016 at 9:11 am

    They are all “service dogs.” If you want to take your dog on a plane or into a restaurant you should not need government certification or a dumb vest. Dogs taken out in public all the time are generally better behaved than people. It it’s a big dog, yeah, they need to pay for his seat. But it’s time to stop discriminating against non-human animals. Sure you have the occasional incident where somebody poops on the floor or gets mouthy (they really should be trained to be civilized) but the more they are taken out into society the better they behave. I like kids, but I will have to say I’ve experienced a lot more disturbances from kids on planes, or for that matter, people with bad BO or big mouths, than dogs (0 incidences, personally.) This shouldn’t even be an issue. Stop regulating folks to death and we won’t violate so many needless “rules.”

  5. Dan

    Jan 28, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    I don’t think there is a person on here with a REAL guide dog from a ADI or IGDF school? you all bitch yet you are the ones with glorified pets without proper training.

    • Amy Farland

      Sep 17, 2016 at 6:56 am

      thank you for sharing.

    • LN

      Sep 27, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      A dog doesn’t have to be a guide dog to be a service animal…my dog detects seizures for me. She’s never once stepped foot in an ADI or IGDF school. So you’re telling me that my seizure detecting dog is a fraud because I couldn’t pay for some fancy school like you did? You realize that’s equivalent to calling someone stupid because they didn’t go to an expensive college, right? Extremely immature and ignorant comment.

  6. Dan

    Jan 28, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    People need to understand the difference between a companion dog and a service dog. first a REAL service dog has to be trained at a ADI or IGDF accredited school. A drs note does not cut it. BY LAW a companion dog is not allowed in the same places a service dog is. Guide dog/Service dog, Blind, deaf, seizure response, wheel chair. Companion dogs, PTSD, Panic attacks, Autism ect. My Guide dog was trained for two years before I met him, then 200 hours with traniers and myself and my guide dog, cost of training 25k and follow up every 6 months, vet reports ect. It makes me sick with these pop up schools that train a glorified pets for two months and call it a guide dog. Its making it harder and harder for people like me who have a REAL service dog to go places as you have these people slapping a vest on a two month trained dog for migraines and poof go into public. Migraines? really? what’s next a guide dog for hemriods, to bark in case you sit down?

    • Brandy Arnold

      Brandy Arnold

      Jan 29, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Dan, service dogs can be trained by their owners. There is no officially accredited school (or group of schools) that all service dogs must be trained or certified through. An official service dog certification does NOT exist. Service dogs do NOT require ANY certification. There is no “ID card” that’s official. They aren’t even required to wear a vest. This is part of the problem. BUT – creating a single accreditation program that works for all service dogs is not as simple as it sounds. Each service dog is trained to perform a variety of duties, specific to their handler – individually trained to meet their handler’s needs. To create an accreditation program that covers the huge variety of duties service dogs provide is nearly impossible. Further, such a program would infringe upon HIPPA and ADA privacy laws that protect the disabled.

      Also.. not sure if you’re saying that PTSD, panic attacks, autism, etc do not need service dogs, but that, too, is not true.

    • Karla Brewster

      Feb 16, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Dude, I am a professional service dog trainer, who is not a member of ADI. Why? Because I am not a “non profit” business.
      Please remove the large hemorrhoid from your ass(that would be your head, btw), and stop drinking the Koolaid that ADI and GUIDI shoves down your throat.
      BTW, I have MS, Diabetes, and have trained several guide dogs.

    • Patricia Williams

      May 12, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      A service dog does not need to be trained by either of those places. YOU are LEGALLY allowed to train your own service dog. Otherwise many (most) people who are already having trouble making ends meet under a mountain of medical bills wouldn’t be able to afford one at that prices the groups that you cite charge for training. (By the way there are plenty of other places that train dogs to perform tasks for disabled people) You are confusing a service dog with a guide dog that needs a lot more training. You are also dismissing how debilitating many things that you don’t consider worthy of a service dog can be. Have you ever had a real migraine? I have, I suffered from them for years before I started having seizures. One of them came on more quickly than the other and within about 60 seconds I had flashing light and dark spots in front of my eyes. Usually that takes long enough to creep up that I can get to a safe place but not always. I was in a mall and I couldn’t even see to find a place to sit down. I had to rely on the help of strangers but they might now always be there or willing to help. Or they might be someone who would take advantage instead. Thankfully my migraines have changed over the years and I rarely have that happen anymore. But a service dog who could sense when they are coming on and lead me to a safe place would be an amazing asset to me or others who I know who get them even worse. And since stress can trigger them they might even be able to head one off. I know that the dog I have now is good about comforting me when I am stressed or a little panicked. She isn’t really good though when I am having a full blown panic attack. I don’t have a doctor’s note saying I am disabled but I have no doubt that with my medical history I could get one if I wanted to and if I put the time and effort into training my dog to do everything that the law says she has to do in order to help me then you have no business telling me that I don’t deserve to have her. (BTW we are training her but not to help me to help my husband. She is a great help to him and after working with her for over a year at home we have just started taking her places with us as the next step in her training.

    • Monguani

      Aug 2, 2016 at 1:31 am

      You’re seriously comparing migraines to hemorrhoids?

      Migraines are a recognized disability and can be very debilitating. I’m not talking about the pain even. Clearly you are ignorant. Did you know that migraines can cause temporary blindness, paralysis, and SEVERE muscle weakness (among MANY other symptoms). So, yes, SOME people with migraine need a service animal, either to sense them early so medication can be administer on time and/or potentially dangerous activities such as driving don’t conflict with a rapid onset, or to fetch medication or get someone to help in cases of emergency.

      Migraines wouldn’t be covered by ADA if they weren’t a disability. Migraines are a potentially severe neurological disorder, and are better compared to epilepsy.

    • Amy Farland

      Sep 17, 2016 at 7:01 am

      you need to read the ADA. your statements regarding the legal definition of service animal are not factually true in the least. These dogs do not have to be agency trained. Service dogs can be used with all of the disabilities you mention. State laws permit business owners to report dogs who do not act appropriately. The same as business owners’ ability to report people who do not act appropriately to the police. no diff.

  7. Katherine

    Jun 10, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I have a three year old German Shepherd service dog that recently completed her training to assist me with my PTSD by alerting me of a panic attack before it happens as well as alerting for migraines. I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and suffer from severe panic attack that are debilitating cause by NYTimes send my time spent the service. 99.9 percent of the time she behaves perfectly, as all service dogs should, however, there was one incident that actually just happened today that’s at my favorite hotel. I walked into the lobby past at least 7 people, and 325 children from ages 2 to 11. One of the kids saw her and ran away screaming because they were intimidated by her looks. she remained calm and ignored everything going on when we entered the hotel there was a woman vacuum right in the middle of the lobby that so oblivious to her surroundings I had to excuse us to pass her still my dog remained calm (despite the fact that vacuums were once her arch nemesis prior to training) , I approached the desk to get my key remade because it wasn’t working on my door which was about as far away from the front door as humanly possible forcing us to walk through the entire hotel and upstairs just to get to our room (for me all of these things were very nerve racking) I know that I was very close to SEVERE panic attack STATUS and had already started to freeze up and and was having trouble breathing when another guest brought their small, barking chihuahua inside the hotel lobby. The dog was barking incessantly and finally, my dog broke her composure long enough to bark at most 3-4 “barks” in rapid succession while I simultaneously corrected the behavior and she immediately went back to her service dog behavior (German Shepherds have notoriously intimidating sounding barks) including persistently alerting me of the panic attack I would inevitably experience after. Before I could make it 10 feet down the hallway, the vacuuming woman ran after me and loudly, with no regard to my privacy, or any sort of discretion told me to get out. My dog is too scary to be here despite my immediate ability to control and correct her one and only two second or less mistake. On top of this, the hotel itself is DOG FRIENDLY!, I would completely understand if this was a repeat behavior or if any lunging or aggressiveness were taking place to accompany her bark or if she refused to obey me, unable to control her in any way censure then sure, pull me aside ask me quietly to leave with my animal or if she not a problem with believing her service animal status, I could either a. Prove it or B. just suck it up and pay the $15 pet fee which I could have cared less about. what really burns my britches about this situation is that the other dog, which was obviously not a service dog was allowed to bark incessantly and misbehave without that pet owner being spoken to you at all for any reasons it. It is it really fair that because of the sound of my dogs bark I was forced from a hotel? is there anything I can do about this? By the way I was only at the hotel for 2 hours and I’m not getting any form of refund whatsoever. To top it all off I have been going to this hotel for 3 years everytime I am in town and have never had an issue with her either as a pet or a service dog and she’s barked plenty of times before she was properly trained. I’m not quite sure I understand the logistics here. I would like to know if I’m wrong? what if anything could I have done differently? I plan to send her for some more hours for her training before I take her to another hotel or public place again because the last thing I want is for people to be intimidated, but that also makes it impossible for me to go anywhere by myself for more than an hour or two feeling comfortable. I am at a loss

    • Patricia Williams

      May 12, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      That hotel employee was wrong and I hope that you wrote a letter to their corporate office. I would have demanded a manager even if the hotel was not dog friendly, but even more so since it was. I try to stick to pet friendly hotels since I am still training the dog we have now and she will occasionally make a mistake (especially after a really long day traveling)but there are times when it’s just not possible to find one that isn’t too expensive. We are getting ready to visit my parents and one of the hotels where we are staying (I had a voucher for a free room) isn’t pet friendly so I am hoping that she won’t misbehave but it’s a 15 hour drive from home and even with frequent stops she will have been cooped up a lot. Now if she barked like the little yappy dog and I didn’t correct her I’d get it. I loath people who allow their dogs to bark and bark like that. Mystic is allowed to bark twice to alert us to someone in the yard if she barks more she is given a command to quit. On rare occasion when that doesn’t work it’s followed by commands of heel and down. Usually when she doesn’t obey it’s a large dog or coyote in our yard or something on the porch that has her worried. She hasn’t done that though when we are staying somewhere else so hopefully she won’t. 🙂

  8. Lyn

    Apr 17, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    My husband uses a service dog for mobility purposes and it pisses me off when people pass off a pet as a service dog. As many of us can’t afford the thousands of dollars to pay for an already trained dog and insurance companies don’t pay for them, at least ours wouldn’t. Like many disabled on a fixed income our dog was home schooled thru the help of training manuals, generous on line support groups and trainers who donated time. A simple solution I think for the frauds passing pets off as service dogs would be the same solution used for handicapped parking. The doctor who wrote the form for my husband to get the tag for the car to park in handicapped parking would write a form saying a service dog was needed. No need to disclose medical information, just the doctor saying a service dog would be medically appropriate. Then a tag for the dog given and like the handicapped parking tag a letter given to the person with name, physical description ie height weight hair eye color and sex like a drivers permit only no pic needed and the person is told to keep it in their wallet. If a question comes up there is no dependence on the dog’s ID the human partner had a letter or card with the person’s description and medical authorization the dog is needed. No medical information needs to be disclosed, that is between doctor and patient. Just a tag and card like for handicapped parking. The tag could even be gotten from the local dog license dept with the medical authorization. It’s just a thought from someone who lives with a real working service dog that keeps hubby from falling, picks up things he drops, including him when he falls, helps with his daily work and life and even help do laundry! We don’t need certified trainers, we don’t need people regulating the “service dog business”. Someone who needs one of these dogs doesn’t just go to anyone, they want a dog that does their job, even if they have to home school that dog to get it. What is needed is to get the selfish, self centered we’re above the rules folks from passing off their pet as a needed service dog. The same folk who will park in the handicapped space for just a minute. A medical tag and card is a good start on weeding out the frauds.

    • Dan

      Jan 28, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      is your dog trained at a ADI school? you are a fraud and making harder for real service animals like mine to go into public. you have a glorified pet not a guide dog.

      • Karla Brewster

        Feb 16, 2016 at 1:10 pm

        Dude, I am a professional service dog trainer, who is not a member of ADI. Why? Because I am not a “non profit” business.
        Please remove the large hemorrhoid from your ass(that would be your head, btw), and stop drinking the Koolaid that ADI and GUIDI shoves down your throat.
        BTW, I have MS, Diabetes, and have trained several guide dogs.

      • LN

        Sep 27, 2016 at 5:50 pm

        You mentioned before that seizure detection dogs are on your list of approved service dogs; that’s what my dog does for me. I have idiopathic seizures, which means we have no idea why I have them even after hundreds of tests and medications. She alerts me of a seizure coming on usually within 3-5 minutes of it happening by letting out a small and sometimes barely audible “gruff”. If I do not respond to her “gruff”, she will position herself in front of me and place a paw on my leg and “gruff” again. Sounds like she was trained at your beloved ADI school, right? Wrong. She was actually never trained to detect my seizures; she just did that on her own. In fact, she was almost a year old when I had my first seizure and was just my pet dog with excellent obedience and mannerisms. I never ever thought I would need a seizure detection dog. Granted, the first time I ever had a seizure she was a little too vocal because she had never been trained in how to respond to a seizure before, but after months of training she now does the exact same routine every time before I have a seizure. I trained her myself with the help of a veterinary behaviorist. Now, you tell me, does it sound like I have a “fake” service dog to you? She is my service animal. She is registered. She is very well behaved, performs her task flawlessly and has never stepped foot in an ADI school. You may think you’re helping the fraud service dog situation by telling these people who are describing a legitimate need for a service dog that they’re contributing the problem, but really you’re just making it very clear that you have a severe false sense of entitlement simply because you paid 25k for your service dog. Get over yourself.

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