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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, to sniffing out allergens and alerting to oncoming seizures.
The Americans With Disabilities Act protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service dogs in public places not normally considered dog-friendly.
Many dog owners have seen a service dog team in public, legally and rightfully, walking through the mall, enjoying dinner in a restaurant, even boarding an airplane, and thought, It would be cool if I could take my dog everywhere, too. It’s not unusual or even horrible to consider, we love our dogs.
But a new trend among dog owners is quickly becoming a big problem for legitimate service dog teams. People are disguising untrained family pets as service dogs, complete with vests and identification cards, in order to take them anywhere and everywhere they wouldn’t normally be welcomed.
Not only do fake service dogs pose a threat to the public and create an attitude of mistrust toward legitimate service dog teams, putting a vest on a dog and posing him as a service animal is illegal, and the fines for having an imposter could reach well into the thousands.