Dog Training Blog
Post by: Kenzie on Feb 19th 2019
Lying About Emotional Support and Service Dogs
If you're not familiar with the issue you may be wondering why lying about owning an emotional service animal is such a big deal. Fake service and emotional support dogs have become more and more of a problem in recent years. For individuals who actually own and need them, this is frustrating and genuinely harmful. People with physical disabilities or crippling emotional afflictions deeply rely on service and emotional support dogs not just for comfort, but for survival. They're more than a normal pet. They require service dog training training and years of experience, and have to be thoroughly educated for their job.
It isn't hard to see the temptation of faking a service dog; bringing your pet with you everywhere you go is an appealing thought. Service dogs have a federally protected right to be allowed anywhere their owner goes, and emotional support dogs can sometimes be granted access to locations that normally would not allow pets. It's this appeal that moves people to lie that their pet is a service dog or an emotional support dog. And, unfortunately, it's easier than ever to get away with it. Nowadays, any pet owner can go on their computer and buy a vest to pass off their pet as a service/emotional support dog. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes no requirements for any licensing, registration, or documentation of service animals and emotional support animals. In fact, it does not allow businesses or individuals to ask for proof of a service dog. You can only ask two questions: Is the dog required because of a disability, and what tasks is the dog trained for? Other than those questions, scammers can get away with faking a service dog quite easily.
So yes, it's a nice idea to be able to take your dog wherever you want, but it doesn't change the truth that faking a service or emotional support animal is irrevocably wrong even beyond the legal ramifications. They have severe consequences for legitimate handlers. It's cruel and mocking of the fact that they endure real, debilitating disabilities that require a service dog, and it completely overlooks the responsibility of owning and teaching one. Fake service dogs also give real service dogs a bad reputation. It's disturbing to people around you to bring your untrained pet where they shouldn't be. Picture a person going into a restaurant (an establishment where, normally, pets are not allowed into) to enjoy a relaxing meal when suddenly they are interrupted by a pseudo-handler entering the building with a loud, distracting dog. When told that dogs are not allowed, they only insist that their dog is a service animal and is therefore permitted to stay. Chances are that the person whose dinner has just been disrupted won't react very well should they encounter a service dog again, even if it's the genuine thing. Real service dogs are not an inconvenience. They're trained to not be a hassle, and they are essential for their owner's well being. Fake service dogs have none of this discipline. They can cause huge disruptions, act out, and could even distract actual service dogs from doing their job, which is disastrous for their handler who relies on them at all times.
This doesn't mean you should automatically assume that any service dog you meet is a ruse. Odds are when you cross paths with a service dog, if you ever even do, they're the real thing. Being suspicious of a handler for no reason only serves to make them feel unfairly guilty and ashamed for something they're likely already anxious over. It's important to remember that there are a number of different disabilities beyond those that have visible manifestations. Just because a handler doesn't physically look like they require assistance, it doesn't give you the right to judge them and their service dog by sight alone and assume they're faking it. Real and fake service dogs can usually be differentiated by their behavior. Comparing a service dog that is well-mannered, calm, and attentive, and a dog that is loud, unruly, and careless is often the only way to indicate a fraudulent service or emotional support dog.
Fake service and emotional support animals create very real problems. Even if possible legal charges don't, understanding exactly how deep their actions can affect handlers and their legitimate service dogs should be a reality to check to anyone who's considered falsifying a service dog.
Do you have any questions or concerns? Dog Training Elite has developed a highly successful and unique service dog training program with a variety of service dog training packages, all of which are completely personalized to the individual seeking assistance. Contact Dog Training Elite today to learn more about our service dog training program, we're happy to help!