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Monday, March 2, 2015

Disabled Handlers Concerned About Fake Service Dogs

another article on the Fake Service Animal epidemic

report by ABC8 Tulsa| Feb 27, 2017
There is a concerning trend for those who rely on service dogs just to leave their house. They say some pet owners are giving them all a bad name by passing off their pets as a support dog.
David Skaggs, who is paralyzed from the chest down, and his 10 -year- old service dog Toby are inseparable. They go everywhere together. At Lowe's in Bixby almost of all the employees know them by name.
Before he had a service dog, a visit like the one at Lowe's was impossible. He couldn't leave his house without someone helping him.
Toby opens doors with his mouth, picks up items and helps him undress. Skills it took Toby months to learn. Skaggs said right now he's concerned because some people are buying vests and patches online to gain access to stores, restaurants and airline flights for their pets that are not a service dogs.
"It's a little irritating because I feel sometimes we get questioned more than is really necessary," Skaggs said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. The ADA does not specify any particular type of training and also does not require certification or licensing.
'At this point there is no national certification or registry required," said Mary Green, President of K-9 Manners and More in Broken Arrow.
Green trains service dogs at K-9 Manners & more.She believes more needs to be done to stop people from taking advantage of the system designed to protect disabled Americans.
"I have seen at airports after a big dog show or dog events I have never seen as many service dogs as I have seen at the airport the following day," Green said.
We decided to find out how easy is it to pass a pet as a service dog. After searching a few words online, we found several websites where you can purchase service dog vests for as low as $99. The websites we checked did not require proof of the dog's training or the owner's disability. The companies selling the vests are not doing anything wrong or illegal, they leave it up to the customer to decide if they fit the definition of being legally disabled.
After a few days the vest arrived along with an ID card. The simple process of purchasing these vests leaves people like Green hoping for change.
"I think the Department of Justice will have to step in and say we need to regulate this," Green said.
While it may appear harmless to portray a pet as a service dog, Skaggs believes it's jeopardizing people like him who legitimately need the help.
"It impacts the people who need service dogs who don't have outward signs of needing that service dog," Skaggs said.
He fears a few bad decisions by some pet owners could lead to more people questioning real disabled handlers.
Under the ADA, business owners can only ask two questions to people with a service dog. Those are
"Is this a service dog?" and "What does it do for you?" Anything more violates federal law.
For all posts related on the 'Fake' Service Animal' epidemic: CLICK HERE

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