Fake Service Dogs on NBC

As many of you know, Bright and I were interviewed by Vicky Nguyen from NBC for a story about the issue of people pretending that their pet dogs are Service Dogs. Reactions to the story have been overwhelmingly supportive, and I’m excited to see where things go from here. 

The issue raises one big question, though, and it seems that the SD community is divided on the solution. I’d like to hear what you think:

Should the US have a standardized system by which to train, certify, and identify Service Dogs? What would be the advantages? What would be the drawbacks? 

Click here to read the article, Fake.

Click here to watch the story on NBC.

Click here to see what makes Service Dogs special.

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


7 thoughts on “Fake Service Dogs on NBC

  1. I think we need to have a marketing campaign, a la the Ad Council, or Tobacco Free America, to make this issue socially undesirable. As long as people think it’s a victimless crime, it will continue. If people love dogs, they should want to protect those that are vulnerable. If they’re reminded, via social networks or print or televised examples of bad behavior it may make some cheaters think twice.

  2. I’m good friends with May and Lauren and attended your graduation. Having someone in a wheelchair with a service dog is bad enough but going out and being told someone with a fake SD was in last week and the dog was misbehaving so we can’t go in really irks me. There should be a national registry for service dogs for anyone who wants to
    be on it. Hand them the dogs # and let them verify. If you don’t want to or are faking it, you argue with the store etc. The stores,
    restaurants, and police etc. need someway to avoid being sued. There should also be a large fine for anyone impersonating a SD. It should start with the doctors who give letters for people who want to break the law the same way they give letters for people to get handicapped plates just so they don’t have to walk.

  3. I think service dogs should have some kind of license that the owner keeps in their wallet just like one does with a driver’s license. And I think that any shop owner, business or restaurant should be able to ask to see it, if they have any questions about the legitimacy of a service dog. Handicapped license plates and tags have to be registered so why not dogs. Then give cheaters a hefty fine for breaking the law.

  4. I would support a registration law. I know it’d be a hassle to those who legitimately have and require a service dog. My father’s girlfriend needs a disability placard, which is ridiculously hard to go through the process for (and weirdly just as hard to cancel when it’s no longer needed), so I understand that it might be a hassle for those who have service dogs. And anybody trying to enforce the law by asking for an ID opens the door to undue harassment.

    But I think the benefits will be real, both for those who truly need service dogs and those who can be affected by any animals. I’m allergic. I’m really bad allergic, to the points that some friends stop inviting me over to their place because of how allergic I am. But I LOVE animals. I support all my friends who have pets, and will do anything to help them. In the store where I work, where dogs are very welcome, I’m one of the first to say hello, ask if I can say hi to the animal (if we haven’t met before), and help make the animal feel comfortable as much as the people. Then I go wash my hands, and if I need to, take a pill.

    But even I have limits. In our store once, we had a woman come in and place a toy-sized dog on a table where other customers who had reservations were working and learning. The woman asked the customer next to her if it bothered her. The customer, who is a very shy and timid woman, admitted that it did. And the dog owner got huffy, called the other customer rude and then started berating her and citing all the reasons the dog was needed to be right there (none of which were of a service animal of any kind). I made the mistake of trying to calm the situation, and when the woman asked me why anyone would have a problem with an animal on a table, I mentioned my allergies.

    That nearly made the dog owner physically confrontational, with fingers in my face telling me that I “Shouldn’t work in public” and that we live in a world that accepts dogs. She even went so far as telling my manager that I should not work there.

    All while the dog sat itself on the laptop computer keyboards while people worked.

    I know that not all dog owners are like that. In my lifetime of knowing probably hundreds, I’ve met only two or three. And I will never assume any dog owner is like that. But a registration process to legitimize the real service animals will help not only stores and people like me in those situations, but help those who truly need these animals be able to not face the discrimination and hate that can be caused by a single person like the woman above.

    That’s my thoughts, anyway.

  5. This is such a sensitive issue for me particularly. I don’t use a program dog. Judah is a natural alerter and I trained him myself for public access. I am dissabled, I don’t drive and I live in a VERY rural area. (oh and I made $9000 last year) For me this becomes an issue of who pays? Who transports us to evaluations? Who gets to set the standard? <– Is it going to be one of the big SD organizations that doesn't believe that AN owner has thecapacity to train their own SD.

    I think in theory some kind of registration is a GREAT idea, but as far as application it seems that it would be difficult, complicated, expenseive, and honestly a little obtrusive. Sure, it would help to weed out fakers but so would education. Most businesses that do know the ADA don't know that they have the right to remove even a real SD if it is being disruptive, is unclean or isn't housebroken. Most states have penalties for presenting a pet as a service animal, some are very harsh. Perhaps if the punishments for 'fakers' was more intimidating it would make people think twice?

    As usual I feel that education is the best, cheapest and easiest solution. I live in NH and to register my dog with the state as a service dog because he is owner trained I need to write an affidavit, get a doctor's note, AND have him evaluated by the ADI public access test. In theory this is a great idea, but who does the evaluating? What does it cost me? Where does it happen? I feel pretty strongly that a lot of larger programs would like to do away with owner training and while there are people out there who do NOT have the knowledge or ability to train their own SD there ARE those of us who have enough experience, training resources and time to do it both effectively and successfully.

  6. I found your story by googling Fake Service Dogs because this has been an issue that I have found really pushes my buttons lately. There was a blogger who advocated to a LARGE amount of people about how to fake your dog as a service dog to get the dog on flights and I wrote about the blog here (http://thewayeyeseetheworld.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/fake-service-dogs-read-this-persons-blog/). After seeing your interview and the news story, I wrote about it here (http://thewayeyeseetheworld.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/you-dont-see-people-faking-a-life-threatening-illness-to-get-a-wish-from-make-a-wish-foundation-followup-on-fake-service-dogs-post/), and then found your blog. I can’t wait to follow it and read more stories. You are a great writer. (I am visually impaired and have a guide dog, by the way :))

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