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The Hidden Complications of Fake Service Dogs

Rules exist for a reason and when it comes to Service Dogs and Service Dog law, too many people have come to view them more as “guidelines.” Whether it’s someone who wishes they could take their dog everywhere or someone who has chosen to break the law by presenting their pet as a fake Service Dog, both actions cause damage and harm to the Service Dog and disabled community.

From time to time, when disabled Service Dog handlers or Service Dog trainers are out in public, they’re approached by someone with a wistful look and a story about how their dog would be “just perfect!” for Service Dog work. They wish they could take their dog everywhere, too, but there’s one problem: they don’t understand that the right to be accompanied by a fully-trained Service Dog comes with a cascading pile of problems no sane person would ever wish upon themselves.

Most people love their dogs, and usually, when someone tells a Service Dog team they meet in public that they’d like to know how to make their dog a Service Dog, their likely intent isn’t malicious or meant to be hurtful.  Nonetheless, it’s a poorly thought-out aspiration. It’s similar to saying, “no offense,” before insulting someone. This issue is far more complex than it seems on the surface, especially when it comes to able-bodied people who actually carry out their wishes by faking Service Dog status with their pets. Read on to learn more about what you’re insinuating by wishing for a Service Dog if you’re not disabled, how masquerading pets as Service Dogs is not only extremely disrespectful, but also harmful, and some important points to consider about Service Dog partnership and the Service Dog community.

1] Service Dog Handlers Are Disabled.
First, per U.S. federal law and the ADA, Service Dog handlers must be disabled. Service Dogs perform tasks that their disabled owners would otherwise have difficulty completing on their own. If you do not have a disability, then you do not qualify for a Service Dog. Period. End of story. Full stop. There are no exceptions. By expressing a desire for a Service Dog, you’re also wishing for the accompanying disability. For a disabled person, hearing an able-bodied person openly wish for a disability (even if you don’t actually say those words) is deeply hurtful. It suggests you don’t take them or their disability seriously and furthermore, it makes light of the thousands of hours of training and socialization their partner has undergone to perform his job.

You’d never say, “Boy, I sure do I wish I had a wheelchair, walker, cane, crutch, oxygen tank, or prosthetic leg to take with me everywhere!” Wishing you had a Service Dog is exactly the same.

You would never approach someone with a cane and enthusiastically remark, “Nice cane! Hey, you know, I’ve got a stick at home. Do you think I could make it into a cane? I’d just LOVE to use a cane everywhere I went just like you; I really think it’d be perfect to use all the time! Come to think of it, that’s a really rad limp. I wish I had a mobility impairment that awesome. Tell me, what’s it like to fall down all the time and to always live in fear of losing your balance? I bet it’s just so epic; I can’t help but wish it were me!”

Think carefully. When was the last time you heard someone say or you’ve said any of the following, either out loud or to another person?

  • “Man, I wish I were deaf!”
  • “Too bad I don’t have severe balance and mobility problems!”
  • “Being visually impaired is SO COOL. Wish I were that way.”
  • “I’d love if my blood sugar was entirely unpredictable and fluctuated without warning to the point of possible death. That sounds like fun!”
  • “My life would be so much better if I were forced to face crushing panic attacks and flashbacks every time I set foot out of my front door.”
  • “If I could have debilitating seizures, you’d bettered believe I would!”

Seems a little ludicrous when presented in that light, doesn’t it? Furthermore, when you consider how Service Dogs are actually classified (as disability-mitigating medical equipment), the sentiment, “I wish I could have a Service Dog!” or “How do I make my dog a Service Dog so they can go everywhere with me?” becomes even more outlandish. If someone ever did that, the following responses or reactions from the other party wouldn’t be at all considered out of place:

There’s a simple solution to this problem: say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you have questions about Service Dogs or about the job Service Dogs perform, ask them, as long as the question isn’t, “How can I make my pet a Service Dog?” or “How can I take my dog everywhere, too?” The answer to those questions, unless you’re disabled and your dog possesses the aptitude for Service Dog work, is ALWAYS: You can’t. No equipment, vest, harness, special leash, ID card, “Do Not Pet Me” patches or anything else can make your dog a Service Dog unless you’re disabled and your dog has been specifically trained to perform tasks or work that you would otherwise have difficulty completing due to your disability. If all of that isn’t true, then it’s ILLEGAL.

2 ] Service Dog Handlers Are Frequently Greeted With Judgement
Secondly, Service Dog handlers are often greeted by judgement and conflict — sometimes from the public, sometimes from friends and family, and occasionally, even from other Service Dog handlers. Service Dog handlers are regularly forced into confrontations concerning their canine partner’s access rights. Even though U.S. federal law is very clear concerning a disabled handler’s right to have their Service Dog accompany them in public. Many handlers, especially in smaller towns or more rural areas, face recurrent skirmishes.

From the “What’s wrong with you?” questions to, “Show me his papers,” life with a Service Dog is rarely smooth. When you blithely announce, “I wish my dog were a Service Dog,” let alone fake Service Dog status or claim your pet is an Assistance Animal, you’re not only making light of the discord faced by the Service Dog community, but also the hassle, lack of privacy, judgement, strife — and sometimes outright hostility — that accompanies Service Dog partners.

Fake Service Dogs only contribute to this problem. Dogs exhibiting poor training, manners or behavior while marching under the “Service Dog” banner cause everyone who came into contact with them to view the next team they meet, even if it’s the best SD team on Earth, with suspicion and judgement.

Under the law, people have rights. Dogs do not. A Service Dog without its disabled partner is just a dog.

3] Service Dog Handlers Have Difficulty Functioning in Daily Life Without Their Dog
Individuals with a disability who partner with a Service Dog require their dog in order to gain an additional degree of independence and functioning they would not otherwise possess. Their canine partner is not merely “company” or a “companion.” If you are not disabled and your dog does not have a fixed set of duties performed to diminish the impact of that disability, your dog is not a Service Dog.

Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Dogs often confused with Service Dogs. Learn about other important types of working dogs here who do great work, but aren’t Service Dogs and who have no public access rights granted by federal law.

4 ] Service Dogs Undergo Hundreds, If Not Thousands, of Hours of Specialized Training
Being a Service Dog is hard work. It requires a specific, rare temperament, an aptitude for training, serving and learning and a degree of stability most dogs simply don’t possess. Beyond that, though, Service Dogs require hundreds of hours of socialization, public access training, basic obedience training and advanced training for their task work.

Even exceptionally skilled pet dogs rarely possess the degree of training most Service Dogs undergo and claiming your pet, no matter how fabulous he may be, is a Service Dog is like graduating from high school or community college and proudly waltzing around claiming you’re a doctor. Both sets of actions are misleading, highly illegal and fraudulent. Don’t mock a Service Dog’s hard-earned skills by misrepresenting yourself or your dog OR by making comments like, “Well, all he’d need is a vest and then I could take him everywhere, too, right?”

5 ] “Fake” Service Dogs Do Serious Damage to the Service Dog Community
Imagine you’re sitting in a coffee shop, enjoying a good book and a hot drink when suddenly, the peace is broken by a woman and her loudly complaining dog entering the business. The noise is constant, high-pitched and without pause. The manager approaches and informs the woman that pets aren’t allowed, but she breezily waves the manager off with, “Oh, she’s a Service Dog.” The dog jumps on the counter while the lady is ordering and growls at the barista — and when she gets her table she feeds the dog part of her cookie.

After an experience like that, what will you think the next time you see someone with a Service Dog? Of course, you’ll be wary and suspicious. If you’re a business owner, you may even ask the team to leave. The experience tarnished your view of Service Dogs but more importantly, it may cause lasting difficulties for other teams that follow in their wake. Additionally, that damage is massively exponential if the story becomes news. Every person who reads the story or watches the report will be affected by it. Every incident involving a “Service Dog” that’s negative casts a shadow on the entire community.

6 ] Distracted Service Dogs Can Result in Hurt Handlers.
Real Service Dogs are doing work for their handler. They’re not just hanging out. Even if it doesn’t look like they’re doing work to you, they are. If there’s a dog around who isn’t trained for public access work, they’re probably going to be a distraction. The same goes for people who intrude on the team’s right to work and be in public without interference. If a dog is meant to be continuously scanning for their handler’s drop in blood sugar and they’re not because a poorly trained dog who shouldn’t be in public has pounced on them and the Service Dog is struggling to perform their job as a result, it’s entirely possible the Service Dog could miss a drop and their handler end up sick. If a person is relying on their canine person for balance and mobility support and the Service Dog is accosted by a person with an out-of-control canine imposter, the Service Dog’s person could fall and be injured.

When/If a person fraudulently takes their pet with them as a “Service Dog,” the pet dog could distract or harm a true Service Dog, which could result in injury to the Service Dog’s person. In the United States, most states have laws that protect both the individual and the Service Dog if harm is done or the team is knowingly interfered with and the crime is punishable by law.

7 ] The Media — and Well-Intentioned People — Can Do the Most Harm
Most people will never encounter a Service Dog. However, the degree of suspicion Service Dog teams face is further complicated by well-meaning —  but ultimately hurtful — news, blog or social media stories that give the public the impression society is being overrun by fake Service Dogs. The unintended effect is causing the public to be suspicious of every Service Dog team they meet. While one poorly behaved animal in a restaurant  can create a bad impression for 20 people, a story or social media post about the event will exponentially create a bad impression with hundreds or thousands — or millions — of people. The effect is exponential.

While people who fake Service Dogs are a very real problem, the only surefire way to easily identify imposters is by their dog’s unacceptable behavior. When it comes to fake Service Dogs, actions speak louder than words. Under the law, Service Dog handlers are to be taken at their word. This allows individuals of questionable ethics to skirt the law, but telling them apart from legit Service Dog teams is simple. Real Service Dog manners, behavior and training cannot be faked.

Think twice before making blanket statements about fake Service Dogs. While you’re trying to help, you may actually be doing more damage than you think. It’s far more helpful to make statements like these:

  1. There are no papers, documents, certifications, vests, tags or special IDs required for Service Dogs in the United States. Under federal law, disabled individuals accompanied by Service Dogs are allowed access to places selling goods or services of any kind, including places offering entertainment, lodging and food.
  2. Fake Service Dogs can often be identified by their lack of manners, obvious lack of training and ill behavior. If a “Service Dog” is interrupting a business’ daily operation with its behavior, it’s a danger to anyone or its conduct is NOT conduct acceptable in a Service Dog (barking, growling, stealing food from other clients, knocking people over, jumping, or many other behaviors), by law, the manager or business owner has every right to ask the person to remove the dog from the premises, “Service Dog” or not.
  3. There are many different types of disabilities, and there are many different types of Service Dogs. You can’t determine if a Service Dog is “real” based on sight alone. Service Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. The only indicator that team is “legit” is the dog’s behavior. Service Dogs are well-trained, well-mannered, calm, unobtrusive and handler focused.

As a result of the public self-appointing themselves as members of the “Service Dog police” and the media’s sweeping statements concerning the Service Dog community, all SD handlers, especially those with invisible disabilities like hearing loss, diabetes, PTSD or a seizure disorder, face a sense of distrust from bystanders, business owners and the public that is sometimes palatable. Handlers frequently face silent stares, pointed digs or inquiries, outright invasion of privacy and many other difficulties. You know that feeling you get when you walk in a room, it goes quiet and you feel like everyone is staring at you? Well, for many disabled handlers with Service Dogs, that’s an everyday reality. Imagine encountering this almost everywhere you go. Please do not make light of the requirements and difficulties of Service Dog partnership, because when you do, this is the contribution you’re making:

As more people learn that Service Dogs can help with a wide range of disabilities, both visible and invisible, as more trainers become knowledgeable about providing proper training, the numbers of Service Dogs will rise.  Under the law, two things mark a dog as a Service Dog:

  1. Being specially trained to perform specific tasks or work that a disabled handler would otherwise have difficulty completing
  2. Partnership with an individual who has a disability

That’s it. There is no secret formula, required certifications/paperwork/documentation, or voodoo magic that makes a dog a Service Dog. Vests and patches don’t do it, and no level of training does it without the handler having an accompanying disability. Now, there are requirements a dog should meet before being considered for Service Dog work, but those are the only two legally-mandated requirements for Service Dog designation.

The message here is simple: don’t fake Service Dog status. Don’t make light of a disabled individual’s history or circumstances. Don’t make a mockery of the work that goes into shaping a Service Dog. Don’t make universal judgements or statements, and don’t think you can identify a Service Dog in any way besides their behavior. Think before you act or speak, and the Service Dog community will be a better place.

Our goal with this article isn’t to point any fingers, name names or do anything except provide a reality check to those who consider faking Service Dog status with their pets to be acceptable. It’s not. Period. “Taking your dog with you everywhere” carries a lot of weight, responsibility and repercussions. Wishing for it nonchalantly or with a casual attitude not only makes light of alternately-abled people everywhere, but also demonstrates  a fundamental lack of understanding concerning the realities of life with a Service Dog. We recognize this article is likely to offend some people and if you’re one of them, you probably shouldn’t be claiming your pet is a Service Dog. If you’re one of those who likes to longingly wish you had a Service Dog and share that desire with every Service Dog team you meet, please recognize that behavior can be hurtful. Our only wish for you is that you think about both what you’re saying with words and what you’re implying with the statement.

Service Dog handlers and members of the non-Service Dog-partnered public, we’d like to hear from you. Is there something we left out or something you’d like to add? Chime in with a comment. 









  • Jim November 22, 2013

    My biggest issue is people who say I don’t need a SD because my disability is mitigated with medication, and issues don’t arise as often as they did in the past. I have a documented history of this disability; I was discharged from the military for it.
    What this does for me is cause guilt for having a SD, and starting to believe that maybe I don’t need a SD.

    • Diann Toler November 22, 2013

      Jim, I have the same issues, and I believe that nobody but me and perhaps my therapist or doc should be making that decision. It’s hard to use a dog for stress when using the dog CAUSES more stress because of people’s attitudes. Some days are better than others, but I never know when the bad times will hit, so I need my dog always.

      • Julie Dole June 9, 2014

        Diann: What has your dog been specially trained to do, exactly? Because as this article shows, by law your dog must be “specially trained to perform specific tasks or work that a disabled handler would otherwise have difficulty completing.” Companion dogs for owners’ “stress” are specifically excluded by the ADA statute.

        • bRANDON July 9, 2014

          WOW, Julie . . . is that really any of your goddamn business? Did you really read the article?

          • ellenandrethy July 12, 2014

            Legitimate question for a business, framed poorly for this discussion. I would say i this way. A service dog is specially trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (implying that work or those tasks mitigate the specific disability). Behavior dogs display by virtue of their natures (to please their owners) and the way someone might benefit (reduced stress) don’t necessarily qualify as tasks. The behavior is trained. If a dog helps someone with stress, the handler should know what behavior the dog is trained to do. No one in the general public has a right to ask that question.

          • SeanL July 12, 2014

            Yes, bRANDON, it is her business, or it will be if she is the manager of the grocery story or cinema when Diann takes her dog in. Did you really read the article? The law says we have to accommodate under certain situations. When a person decides “I’m going to call my dog a service animal,” it throws the whole system into disarray. Julie’s question is specifically and precisely what I have a right and reason to know if somebody brings their dog into my establishment.

            I’m sorry, but the law doesn’t say you get to bring your dog into the library because it makes you feel better to have them around. Maybe the law should say that. A person could make a legitimate case that it should. But it does not.

            Several times I have seen people growled at and a few times I have seen children snapped at by “service animals.” Just because somebody wants it to be a service animal doesn’t make it a service animal.

            I remember a woman whose “service dog” had drawn blood from a small child. As she and her dog were being escorted out of the store, she yelled, “My dog wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Yet the dog had just hurt the bleeding child.

            No, I’m not saying Diann’s dog would do any such thing–I don’t know her or her dog–but the law is the way it is so that we have a reasonable expectation that dogs in stores won’t hurt people and cause a nuisance.

          • Jake December 6, 2015

            Julie is right, if the dog is specifically for stress or emotions, it is an ESA that DOES NOT have public access. I will be MORE than happy to give someone my disabilities so they can have a service dog with PA. This psychiatric and emotional support dog thing has become a disease. Bottom Line: if the dog is not INDIVIDUALLY trained for your specific disability, and performs tasks (emphasis on the plural) to mitigate that disability that the handler requires, then it does not have public access. If you pass it off, the fraud and liability are you. Please, I am begging you stop passing them off as real service dogs, you are risking people like me living independently lives. Especially when your dog traumatizes mine, and i lose my independence.

          • cissy December 7, 2015

            Jake, I totally agree. Except for one small point. A SD doesn’t have to be trained for more than one task; for instance, a dog that does seizure alert reliably trained can do only this one task and still be a SD. I look for behavior anytime a person is presenting their dog as a SD. If the dog isn’t well behaved, I complain to mgmt and let them know “certification” or not, the handler should be asked to remove the dog. I’ve been lucky I guess. Even though this problem is supposed to be rampant in NYC, I’ve never encountered a poorly behaved dog presented as a service dog in NYC. My worst problems are off-lead dogs or dogs on flexis.

          • Roymond December 7, 2015

            Well, at least one task anyway. But I quite often run into people who can’t specify a task or explain how that helps with any disability.
            I was questioning one gal and she told me I couldn’t ask that question. I told her that a business can’t ask that question, but as a real service dog owner I wanted to know if hers was real. Turned out she was still training the dog to be in public. I ended up pointing her to a trainer and to a site for getting a vest with a big “IN TRAINING” sticker, because she did have a real disability. That was a happy outcome compared to ones where I’ve had to explain firmly that if there wasn’t an actual disability or actual tasks then there was no service dog, just a pet where it didn’t belong.

          • Cissy December 7, 2015

            I’m really not into people thinking they should be the SD police. I certainly would never pay attention to anyone cross-examining me about my disabilities or my dog’s training.IMO it’s just plain rude.

          • Roymond December 7, 2015

            Then you’re part of the problem. NOT challenging obvious fakes is what you’re advocating.

          • cissy December 9, 2015

            Actually that’s not what I’m advocating. But who appointed you to be the service dog police? Your kind of attitude does us no favors, IMO, and promotes the idea that anyone can ask intrusive questions that are none of their business.

          • Roymond December 14, 2015

            Of course it’s my business — I have a service dog.

            What has happened to this country? The “It’s none of your business!” line has been one of the biggest contributors to people not caring about others. Even if I didn’t have a service dog, it would be my business, because whatever affect the stores where I shop regularly is my business. It doesn’t matter if it’s an arsonist, a mugger, a shoplifter, or someone with a fake service dog; when there’s misbehavior in my community it’s my business to do something.

            That’s what makes a community. It’s called “caring” — something I know isn’t held in high regard these days; people would rather let the world fall apart rather than take responsibility for helping make their communities good places to live. But just as when I was growing up every adult in the neighborhood looked out for — and administered correction to — all the kids in the neighborhood, in the disabled community every adult should step up and take responsibility for making sure we have a good “neighborhood”.

            The question isn’t who appointed anyone to police others, the question is why some people are so self-centered they opt out of being responsible adults.

          • Kaya June 20, 2016

            You do realize that is none of you’re concern. Legally you’re only allowed to ask two questions, 1. is that a service animal required because of the disability. 2. What work or task was a service animal trained to perform? And no you cannot have them perform the work or task for you. You should really read your shit before commenting on people’s questions/comments and thinking you’re entitled to know their medical history.

          • Terry March 21, 2017

            She did read the article. That is she is asking the specific questions that are allowed by the ADA IN DETERMINING SERVICE DOG STATUS. SShe is 100% correct and if you don’t answer the question you can be denied service dog protection

        • Candice King-Palgut July 13, 2014

          I can give you an example of a trained task for stress management. I have panic attacks. I was in a bad accident and have had 7 spine surgeries and have some serious physical limitations. I have also been a victim of violent crime, and I can get “triggered” Not only does my dog do balance work, retrieve etc etc etc she will do a paws up into my lap, press her chest against me, and nuzzle my neck,,,, ON CUE!!! when I have a panic or anxiety attack. She acts as a focal point to help me to more quickly get my stuff back together.

          • SeanL July 14, 2014

            Candice. thank you for the specific example you gave. If you came into my library and I asked you the two questions I can and must ask (“Is this a trained service dog?” and “What is it trained to do?”) you would answer those questions and all would be well.

            And I know something today I didn’t know before. I did not know about the nuzzling on cue. My world is not a little bit bigger, and I thank you for that.

          • windchyme July 30, 2014

            I just wrote three different tasks as an example of what my dog for MY bipolar, anxiety and PTSD (my dog is trained to MY specific needs and problems) does, then I thought. Why put all that out there to give those that want to fake it a script of what to tell someone who asks. No thanks. Course I don’t give the whole list to store owners either..just a brief tidbit….after all store owners don’t have all day and neither do I.

        • Larissa July 13, 2014

          My husband had a Service Dog to help with his PTSD (as well as other issues.) His biggest problem is social anxiety. His SD “blocks” for him, making sure that he isn’t crowded too closely. When hubby begins to have a panic attack, his dog has a specific way to get his attention as focusing directly on the dog can help to dissipate the attack much faster than Xanax ever does. Julie has a right to ask what the dog has been specifically trained to do… SD handlers should be ready to answer that question at any time as this is how they justify their REAL SD.

          • Kimberly Ky A. Greene September 14, 2014

            NO Sean L_you may NOT ask if that is “trained service dog” . You may ask however “are you disabled” ,”what are the task the dog performs” My answer would be “Yes”, and “Alert, Retrieval and Passive protection”. I will respond with nothing else. I sit down on the floor and call the police when ever I am denied access or screamed at by some ignorant employee. I do NOT tolerate my SD being touched, reached for, called, distracted. or approached by any child or adult for any of the above. Keep away and respect the team.

          • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

            Kimberly, you CANNOT ask “are you disabled”? You CAN ask “Is that a trained service dog”. You have it backwards. And sitting on the floor calling the police is just idiotic, not to mention illegal. You CAN call the police, however, you DO have to leave the establishment. My husband has a service dog, for mobility issues. He carries a copy of the ADA regs as well as our state regulations. Once the managers, etc, of business’ that have refused service read it, he has yet to have a bad experience. Your little hissy fits put a bad light on ALL service dog handlers. Please get a copy of the ADA regs and actually read them. We have. Call the police, that is your right, but sitting on the floor throwing a tantrum puts ALL service dog handlers in a bad light, and if your dog is being unruly, they have EVERY right to ask you leave, and have the legal right to do so. PLEASE educate yourself.

          • Beth Canter March 25, 2015

            Completely correct Lisa M., Kimberly you need to leave and call an ADA rep. in your state after the police and see if you can slap a fine on them. My state it is $50,000 for denying access but not for asking if I am “disabled” which I would find terribly rude. A fine will work better then as Lisa correctly called it, “a tantrum.” Besides, what are you doing to your poor dog! What stress are you putting on him or her by your behavior. For me, I would never do that to my dog! I always carry the regulations on me. I have only been turned away three times in three years but they have all received fines and I DID NOT give them my business after. I pray I do not live in your state because you are making it impossible for other people who have service dogs!!! I’d throw you out for your behavior.

          • Mike October 5, 2015

            Can you please share more about how the dog gets attention to head off an anxiety or panic attack

        • Robbie the Red July 14, 2014

          @Julie I can’t speak for other posters, but I can assure you that PTSD trained service dogs are NOT companion animals for “stress”.

          While you may have asked a credible question, it could have been done in a much less adversarial way.

          • patti shanaberg July 14, 2014

            I don’t interpret this question as “adversarial” at all. It’s a question all service dog handlers must be prepared to answer.

          • cissy July 14, 2014

            I’ve used a service dog for PTSD for almost 15 years. The dog is task trained. I can be asked to name the tasks the dog performs and whether or not I have a disability, but I am not required to disclose my disability as a condition of access. If someone asks me what my dog does for me, I usually ask, “Do you mean what tasks does my dog perform?” and I usually got an affirmative answer. I have no problems telling anyone that my dog is a medical alert dog. After that, I believe any further questioning is impermissible. I suppose I could be asked to describe the alert at which point I would say that the dog gives me a nose punch to alert me to the onset of an episode. There are numerous tasks a dog can be trained to do to help mitigate the symptoms of PTSD.

          • windchyme July 30, 2014

            I agree with you Cissy…that is usually my way too but my response is medical alert and response.

          • Judy April 23, 2015

            Patti — Julie’s comment was adversarial because she was unnecessarily quoting the ADA specifications to someone who, as a SD handler, should already know them. This gives her a “holier than thou” appearance, even if she did not mean to come across in that manner. Julie seems not to have realized (even though it is stated in the article) that PTSD and other mental illnesses are covered under the ADA’s specifications regarding who can have a service dog. The OP may have used the term “stress” as an abbreviation for whatever complicatedly named mental disorder they have. That does not mean that it is okay to question a person’s disabled status if you have no reason to do so. Yes, business owners have a right to politely ask such questions, but strangers either in public or on the internet will come across as nothing but rude for asking such personal questions.

          • Ginger March 23, 2017

            Thanks for stating THIS!!! I am ( not blown away by people & their lack of compassion & education) someone with a SD , I suffer with PTSD and paralyzing anxiety attacks especially due to social phobia. I have been ” rudely” told upon entrance,” You can’t bring that dog in here!” I respond with She’s my SD , I think I am 1 of many if NOT Most people that get angry with the ignorance that People have justified if they can’t SEE your disability then We don’t have one!!!

        • Chris July 15, 2014

          wow Julie, really???? ever have a panic attack, wonder where you are, how you got there, how to get home??? all because you have asthma (INVISIBLE ILLNESS) that causes you to not have enough oxygen on your feeble brain??? You are part of the problem, butt out. Also, my balance issues cause me to fall at no notice. In fact, last Friday, in DC, I stumbled off a sidewalk on the DC mall. My dog immediately shifted position to break my fall, and I did not end up face down in the gravel. I do have a sprained ankle and bruises, but all things considered, I am much better off with the dog than without. A cane would NOT have saved me. YOU ARE SO IGNORANT

          • Beth Canter March 25, 2015

            You fall on your dog?

          • Sam Lewis April 6, 2016

            Yes for a mobility emergancy a dog can be trained to try to keep intense injury from occuring. As a veteran with a TBI this can be life saving. When walking off a curb, on uneven ground, or even down stares can be life threatening a SD trained to sence the wavering balance and move to stop severe injury is crutial. In the last 5 years I have broken 12 bones and been hospitalized from falls more times than I can count, since 2015 and adding my SD I am down to no broken bones and only bruises and sprains.
            My SD is trained to try to keep me from falling to pin me to the nearest wall. He is also a big enough breed that my 100 lbs falling on him is not anything dangerous. A perfect example of where a border collie would have been an inappropriate choice but my mastiff functions awesomely.

          • Bob May 31, 2017

            It’s clear if the dogs are tasked trained. Completely obedient well mannered etc . It’s a service dog. Just a dog that makes a person feel better and isn’t tasked trained etc . Is just a pet or therapy dog at best .pstd service dogs don’t exist. You have a service dog or you don’t. But if you have ptsd and that dog blocks you or helps you get out the nearest entrance etc .its a legal service dog . Quit putting pstd in the title .

        • Michele L Grider July 24, 2014

          Julie Dole, what right do you have to question Diane? Have you personally seen her dog misbehave? Do you know her and know she should not hace a surface dog?
          It is one thing to question or comment to someone in public with an ill – behaved, untrained, uncontrollable dog.
          But you questioning here is just plain rude !

        • Kyle & Ronnie August 9, 2014

          Actually Julie and SeanL, it is NOT your business and per ADA regulations it is illegal for you to ask us what our dog does for us. The amount of info you get is up to us. It is OUR privacy you are invading. Now I understand your concern on fake teams but that doesn’t make it acceptable to punish those of us who have certified dogs. If you have such concerns, go about it the right way and study up on ADA regulations. Trust me when I tell you we are as unhappy (if not more so) about these fake teams as you are. If you took the time to get to know even the basic of ADA regs you would know if a dog was acting in such a disrupting manner like the one in the article, the business has a legal right to ask them to leave service dog or not. 99.9% of actual teams would of left on their own before it came to that. These fake teams make our lives harder. Keep in mind this article explains situations not the brass tacs of regulations. If someone asks me in a respectful manner I have no problem telling them what my Ronnie does for me. He saves my life every day. Keep in mind these are not our service animals but our family and saviors. Thank you.
          Kyle & Ronnie

          • patti shanaberg August 11, 2014

            Actually Kyle & Ronnie, you appear to be mistaken about what a people have a right to ask about the specific tasks a service dog performs. While the ADA states that it is illegal for STAFF to ask “about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identifcation card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task – they ARE allowed to ask “(1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.” There are no laws to prevent the public from asking whatever they want. They may be considered rude but there are no laws against rudeness. Your misplaced defensive attitude when asked these 2 simple questions are not helping the matter. Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing and while it may be inconvenient and annoying to answer such questions I hardly see it as an “invasion of privacy”. While having a service dog in public is a right afforded by law it still should be respected as sometimes inconvenient and questionable to others. I think people with disabilities and with service dogs would do well to be more compassionate with the public’s curiosity and concern and not make such a big deal out of these 2 simple questions allowed by law. (speaking as someone with a physical disability myself)

          • cissy August 13, 2014

            Please note that under the ADA regulations, service dogs do not require special certification of licensing to have access with their disabled partners.

          • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

            Kyle & Ronnie, they have EVERY right to ask you what tasks your dog has been trained to perform. It’s right there in the ADA regs. i am beginning to wonder if YOU have actually read the regs. According to the ADA, and I’m typing from the actual regs. “A pubic entity or accommodation shall not ask about the nature of extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine if an animal qualifies as a service animal. They my ask if the animal is required because of a disability, and work or tasks the animal has been trained to perform. A public entity or accommodation shall Not require documentation, such as proof the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.” “If you have such concerns, go about it the right way and study up on ADA regulations”. I suggest you take your own advice.

          • Rick Vanover February 10, 2015

            So true. My Elvis is not a dog. He is the reason I have a manageable (Sometimes) life

            Just ask him but he’s keeping it a secret.

          • patti shanaberg February 11, 2015

            As previously clarified many times the ADA is very clear about what a property owner or staff may and may not ask and they DO have the right to ask what task a service dog performs. While they may not ask about the disability they MAY ask what the dog does! Quote directly from “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the 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.” As a person with a disability myself I feel it’s important that people with disabilities not be rude or feel overly entitled because of this law and rather know the law and cooperate with it as written.

          • Kaya June 20, 2016

            Samantha is right we are not required to give you any medical info, the only two questions that are allowed to be asked are, 1. Is that a service animal required because of the disability? 2. What tasks or work is it trained to perform? Whoever is asking these questions is NOT allowed to have you demonstrate the work or task. Also just so everyone is aware there is no official certification or registration for a service animal. By law the only thing that separates them is that they preform some kind of work or task.

          • Roymond June 21, 2016

            Those are the rules because the courts have agreed that it’s better to have to put up with fake or poorly-trained service dogs than to make it difficult for people who need them to have them. Those who demand rules that would make it more expensive to have a service dog should pony up the money for it as well.

            What’s too bad is that insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a service dog, despite the fact that service dogs are effectively fancy medical equipment.

        • Elmer Ravenovich September 28, 2014

          You are so wrong service dogs for stress disorders are service dogs and perform many different types of duties depending on the needs of their handler

        • Bri September 29, 2014

          Oi, Julie, things that mitigate stress: DPT, alerting handler to stress thresholds, removing handler from stressful situations, bringing medication for stress related issues. So, you were saying that “stress” (shorthand for a host of things like anxiety, ptsd, shutting don from panic/over-stimulation) can’t have trained tasks to mitigate?

          • patti shanaberg October 10, 2014

            It’s unfair and counter productive to make that leap from asking a valid and legal question (“what has your dog been trained to do?”) to implying something argumentative (“So, you were saying that “stress”…can’t have trained tasks to mitigate?”) It would be much more productive for people to be more objective, less presumptuous and simply answer questions to educate people than be so defensive and argumentative.

          • Taxandria March 29, 2015

            I think people usually think of stress as just when you have a lot on your plate and feel frazzled or tired or mildly anxious. Everyone has stress. It’s the kind that is a chronic disorder like GAD and panic attacks (which happen out of the blue, even when you are not consciously aware you’re “stressed”. My first panic attack happened when I was going to sleep at age 17. I hyperventilated and couldn’t feel my body. I could hardly walk down the stairs and the paramedic had to aid me. You get tunnel vision, depersonalization/derealization, feel disconnected, get very dizzy (there have been times I will be in a store and holding onto a shelf because I’m having a panic attack. Sometimes lighting changes in stores trigger a panic attack…) Stress, when it reaches a level able to disable you, can be alleviated by a service dog. Now, not everyone with GAD/PTSD/Panic has a service dog. I wish I’d had one for the past 25 years I have been suffering with this anxiety (which I was hospitalized for once). I’ve only just heard of dogs that can help in this way. My niece has a seizure disorder and doesn’t have a dog, probably because we didn’t know there were service dogs for that, either. My mom’s diabetic and sometimes gets low blood sugar when she’s out and nearly passes out. She doesn’t have a dog, either. People need to get off other people’s cases and just live their lives and be thankful they don’t need a service dog.

        • Brenda March 7, 2015

          It isn’t just “stress”. It is a debilitating anxiety. That is the problem. People who don’t have ptsd don’t understand the tightness in the chest and shortness of breath and hypervigilence to the point that you can’t function. The dog helps keep you calm and alerts you to potential triggers orcircumstances that might cause a severe reaction from the handler which allows the handler to concentrate on the task they need to do.

          • Taxandria March 29, 2015

            Absolutely, Brenda. You feel like you’re dying, right out of the blue. Things around you can look very strange. Your heart pounds, you sweat, you can’t breathe. And one second ago you may have felt pretty OK. I don’t go to movies or churches or malls because there’s too many people and I get so claustrophobic. People in churches always sit so close to me I just freak out. Priests would say to keep going but I’m like, I just can’t do it anymore. I’d sit through Mass just digging my fingernails into the back of my hand trying to keep it together until it was over. The part where we have to shake hands with other people put me in a tizzy as well. People don’t get why that would be a problem. Or why my leg shakes constantly. I have even lost friends over my anxiety because I just can’t go out whenever they want to. I’d turn down going places further than my comfort zone. I have to have a bag full of tons of supplies, too. I always carry around my pills and inhaler and hand sanitizer (I’m a germophobe) and little Lysol spray, band aids, neosporin, OTC meds, Rescue remedy, BP monitor and stuff no one would normally drag around with them if they weren’t in a constant state of anxiety. For God’s sake I even have a freaking defibrillator on my Amazon wish list. It is a hard thing to deal with and I have reached my 25th year of it. My anxiety causes chest pain (which I have been to the doctor for more times than I can count. I had 8 stress tests in 3 years due to anxiety and spent countless hours in doc offices and ER’s just to have them give me Xanax or Ativan.) A real anxiety disorder is NOT anything like normal everyday levels of anxiety that everyone has.

          • Roymond November 14, 2015

            I appreciate your post, Taxandria.

            It prompts me to relate an episode from college, before I even heard of service dogs: I was returning from the library, heading across a park-like area of lower campus, when moderate stress vaulted straight to panic. EVERYTHING I could see or hear was interpreted by my brain as a threat. I stumbled to a tree and clung to it, gasping for breath, trying to hide from the world. Nothing seemed real but at the same time everything seemed dangerous. Even reaching for the at-need meds in my backpack was too terrifying to try.

            Then one of the guys from my house came along (later we figured out I’d been clinging desperately to that tree for a good fifteen minutes). He had to peel me off the tree, at which point I wrapped myself around him and held tight because at that moment he was the only thing in the universe that my brain allowed was safe. Except where we had firm body contact, my body didn’t seem like it even belonged to me any more. He leaned me back against the tree and hugged me close until I was calm enough that he could walk me back to the house and hand me off to one of the other guys.

            Back then, even taking a Xanax meant another twenty to thirty minutes of terror, and the only thing that helped until the pill took effect was a solid friend to cling to. Now, I have Bammer, who intervenes before I get anywhere close to a panic attack, and when anxiety strikes knows to tell me to get on my knees so he can bestow a canine hug, which acts one heck of a lot faster than any pill ever has.

            So service dogs don’t just help, they frequently accomplish what no existing medical technology can do or even approach.

        • Alyssa R Holt April 16, 2016

          Needing a therapy dog to feel better is much different than having a dog trained to aid/comfort someone having an anxiety attack or partaking in self harm. Veterans with PTSD who suffer from anxiety attacks ARE covered for legally obtaining service dogs as well as people being hindered by other mental illnesses like BPD, bipolar disorder, clinical depression exc. In those cases a dog is often trained to remind owners to take medications or get the attention of someone who can administer xanax exc.

          • diane May 11, 2017

            Nicely explained.

    • Nancy July 13, 2014

      Jim, do not allow people make you feel bad about the above situation. Some disabilities cannot be seen, but they are real. Don’t give in to small minded humans, and may they never suffer from a disability. By the way, thank you for your milltary service.

    • Carol October 12, 2014

      Absolutely not Jim!! You should not have any guilt over your SD!! Reflect back and remember all of the positive things you both have done together and how he has helped you! You have also helped him too. Please keep your dog and do not ever feel guilty for having him!

    • December 2, 2014

      I needed a large dog for my mobility needs. I chose a Rottweiler for their ability to pull carts size intelligence loyalty and no tail. I have owned 10 rotts in the last 25 years so I known the breed. We waited for the dog to be a year old to make sure the temperament was right for service work and his training was solid. He is what you described as a perfect example of how a service dog behavior should be. My wife calls him my stalker he is so in tuned with me I use mostly hand signals in stores or restaurants. We chose German for commands so he wouldn’t bedistracted by conversation. He doesn’t make a sound eat of the floor won’t tack food out of your hand unless commanded if a dog becomes present he will lift his head and look then lay it back down. People have asked me if something is wrong with him because they haven’t seen him move I just tell them he is fine I just haven’t said he could. He loves to work as soon as I put his harness on he’s ready to go and when it’s off and given his release command he knows how to be a dog. It upsetting to see a fake or poorly trained dog in public. Service dogs are and should be held to a higher standard the cost and commitment the handler must invest is staggering. So the question is : is the dog a fake or the hander lazy the dog is only as good as the person on the other end of the leash.

        • patti shanaberg December 2, 2014

          “well enough” is relative. The law is the law and there is no “well enough” clearly defined. Many find that an issue but I think people need to lay off those of us with well behaved service dogs until they change the law. I hear a lot of extreme opinions and judgements on this thread about what “well enough” is that I think are counter productive. There are far more important “battles” to fight.

    • Taylor January 17, 2015

      I am in the same boat.

    • Rick Vanover February 10, 2015

      I’m in the same situation. Hang in there. better yet as I do. ..stay in there.
      Rick with SD Elvis h has saved my life.

    • katmuzic February 11, 2015

      While I agreed with most of the article, the phrase able bodied was very offensive. My husband suffers from bi-polar, PTSD, and anxiety/depression. He is on medication, and it helps, but there have still been times that he just couldn’t make it to work without his service dog. Don’t feel guilty. While I recognize the problem with fake service dogs is real, there are problems besides physical disabilities that really do require public access. I agree with Diann that the true decision should be made between therapist, doctor, and patient. Not by good intentioned bloggers.

      • Taxandria March 29, 2015

        Ugh the subject of psych drugs is really misunderstood. Psych drugs are nothing like antibiotics or aspirin. You take those, your problem goes away. Psych drugs cause so many side effects and may not help at all after taking them for 2 months (the recommended time to take one to see if it will work). Nothing’s guaranteed. Some people feel much better on one, some feel worse or nothing or slightly better. Xanax for me makes me fall asleep, it doesn’t help my anxiety any. I haven’t had it in months because it’s kind of useless except for insomnia. When I was younger I took it and it took the edge off my anxiety, I felt noticeably calmer, sort of like you feel after you exercise. It hasn’t done that in years. I hate the stuff. Zoloft did not much for me except make me ravenously hungry. Celexa makes me feel like nothing matters (and has a ton of nasty side effects on me one of which was tremors in my whole body, 24/7 for 2 months straight.) You can’t SEE that happening, but it’s happening. You just can’t always see what the person is suffering with, especially if they’re like me and they will try their best to hide it.

      • Judy April 23, 2015

        “The phrase able bodied was very offensive.” I noticed this throughout the article, too — I’m not sure the author could figure out which phrase was correct and perfectly inclusive (and, really, there is no perfect phrase). There’s the term “differently bodied” but this doesn’t quite cover mental disorders, either. A lot of people find fault with the term “disabled” because they feel they’re doing the very best they can to be -able- to do what they need/want to do (I know I am!).

        And also, to the OP, if your medication is really helping, that’s WONDERFUL news! Don’t think of it as anything but wonderful! You still have a disorder, however, and your service dog is still there for you in case those medications start to fail you.

    • Meagan March 5, 2015

      My biggest issue is those who are in SD organizations and they ask me all kinds of questions like I’m supposed to be a certified dog trainer etc. When I told one lady that I was “owner/handler training” for a minor child, my son who’s autistic, she flipped out and started quoting the law and saying I wasn’t allowed to do that etc. Before I could say anything the lady who I was conversing with at a local hardware store where I was with him (the SD) said, “Actually she can the parent owner/handler of a minor child who needs it.” I explained that I was getting the dog trained and would be involving my son slowly and helping him to learn the hand signals words, etc. He had been non verbal up until a year and a half ago. He’s almost 6. He is the OWNER of the dog on all the paperwork, I am the handler on all the paperwork. I also have the dog tagged through the county as a service dog showing that he is licensed vaccinated and the tag is from Animal Control. I had to sign an affadavit that I could be fined and arrested for falsifying documents, etc. It really upsets me that people especially those claiming to be from an organization are putting “owner trainers/handlers” down. We are going to do tandem training in public access with my son when the dog is done with his PAT through Pet Smart he’s not even in that class yet. So I dont really agree with the article that the person having the disability needs to have the dog otherwise there is no excuse for Organizational Dog Trainers to take them out to teach them what I am teaching him for my son. NOTHING. People in all areas of the SD arena need to change their views.

      As to the person who mentioned a fear or allergies, those are accomodations outlined in the ADA as well and as such reasonable accomodations should be made for them as well. For example on a plane, ask to be seated as far away as possible or the same in a restaurant. What I dislike is people who insist that they get their way on everything who are disabled they are just as bad as those who have fake SD dogs.

      • Beth Canter March 25, 2015

        I have seen amazing transformations with autistic children and service dogs! It is amazing! It would be great if we just said that they all have to be trained by an accredited agency. But the fact is not everyone has access and that will never change. Who is going to service the boarder of MN and Canada? How about the rural Appalachian mountains? Is all of every state covered? All of North and South Dakota? Owner trained dogs are always going to be there and they can be wonderfully trained and yes they should have full access in training! Of coarse you are training the dog first and will work it into your child’s life when trained. I am thrilled to hear of your success already. Good for you for training the dog yourself and making this difference for your child! It takes a special parent to raise a special child!

    • Linda March 6, 2015

      DO.NOT.LET.THEM.MAKE.YOU.FEEL.LESS.DESERVING! Treat that noise like the smack talk we all gave each other in PT, exercises, real situations etc. Just tune it out and roll on! You know you need it, everyone else needs to get back in their lane. I was lucky to retire from the military (AF but with loads of Army support) but most of my issues popped up once I was released from that environment. (PTSD, panic attacks, and now type II diabetes (medicine not insulin) because of decades of rotating shift-work in the military). I’m in that less defined grey area. I have a developing disability, and I am training my dog to be my alert dog (Since that is what she’s done almost every time I have a hyper or hypo). I want her trained BEFORE I desperately need her, not afterwards when I won’t have the ability to train her so well. If your doc hasn’t agreed to a service dog, ask for a second, and a third, and fourth opinion. If it’s a military hospital they just aren’t aware of how to do it, educate them. If it’s the VA, get a DAV/VFW/or other veterans groups service advisor to help you. The VA is like mating elephants…lots of crashing about, screams and noise, and then two years to see results!

    • barry petitpas March 20, 2015

      Where do you draw the line. Half the population has ptsd, anxiety, depression. Get a handicapped license plate. Get a disability pension, food stamps , free healthcare, housing, fuel assistance and bring your dog with you everwhere you go. lots of people are going to want this. able bodied people with emotional trouble like half the free world

      • Tracy Widner January 1, 2016

        You must not live in the State of Alabama. Oh, wow, I have a license plate, my spouses social security barely pays the bills. I do NOT QUALIFY FOR ANY ASSISTANCE FOR HEALTH INSURANCE ASSISTANCE AS WE DO NOT MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO HAVE TAXES TAKEN OUT, IF YOU DO NOT FILE TAXES (I USE A PROFESSIONAL TAX PREPARER EACH YEAR), YOU GET NO ASSISTANCE FOR HEALTH INSURANCE THROUGH THE GOVERNMENT HELATHCARE PLAN. JUST INSURANCE FOR THE 2 OF US IS $511 A MONTH! I have had multiple back surgeries, I have no feeling in my left leg so my SD will be for balance (I also have Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disease that interferes with my balance), we pay the same amount for our own damned house, no assistance there, I am 51 and have worked steady since I was 18 with the exception of the last almost 8 years. I am allergic to gram negative bacteria-anaphylactic shock. I was sexually molested from the age of 10 to 17 thus the PTSD. Just touching the top of what is wrong with me and WHO IN THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE YOU POMPOUS BASTARD? You take my world of fun and “freebies” and I will go back to work asshole.

        • Roymond January 2, 2016

          A great point about work!

          I get tired of people who say they envy me because I live on disability. “You don’t have to do anything!”, they say, “Just putter around and have fun!” They don’t grasp that I would love to be able to have even a significant part-time job, that I envy people who can actually work full time. They don’t understand the anxiety attacks, the instances of disorientation where I have to stop and figure out where I am, what day it is and what time, and thus which way I’m supposed to be going and what I’m supposed to be doing, the moments of utter inability to make a choice about what to do next that leave me standing unable to move. And they don’t grasp at all that having my dog with me isn’t a matter of nice feelings, but of necessity.

          • Tracy Widner January 3, 2016

            I agree completely, I worked, had two wonderful sons, a total of eight foster children, an immaculate home and loved and cherished every moment of the work of service work that I was blessed to be asked to do (most of it with my boys in tow). I do not ask for a thing that I have not earned. None of us asked for this, but by all means please walk in our shoes and see if you feel the same way after a month, just saying, the pay stinks (I do not have my Social Security yet), I prefer the duct taped body that I had before I was hit by a college student on her cell phone.

      • Janie February 2, 2016

        You’re correct in ONE thing Barry. Lots of people do have anxiety, ptsd and the like. I am one of them and let me just enourage you to remove your head from your anus for just a moment in time. It’s HUMILIATING to have to NEED a dog to come with me to work and to the grocery store, etc. Don’t you think for one minute (and obviously thinking is NOT one of your strong suits) that maybe just maybe everyone doesn’t have the same LEVEL of symptoms? And as far as getting benefits? Yeah, right. No, let me tell you I work a 40 plus hour a week job and I bust my ass every damned day just to get out of the DOOR because there are times when I can barely get my feet to move because of PTSD and anxiety. So until you experience something like that it’s probably better that you keep your ignorance under your hat because your stupid is really showing. Maybe it’s easier for someone who IS faking it to look a person in the eye and explain why the dog is there? I don’t know. All I know is that people look down on people who have disabling invisible and chronic disabilities. It affects the way coworkers, professionals and other people view me as a person. I can’t imagine why ANYONE would want to fake something like this? Maybe the people who are faking really have a deeper disorder because nobody in their right mind would want to undergo the ridicule, suspicion and judgment. And it’s doesn’t do much to further your career, either. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of PAYING FOR THE TRAINING. So where are these benefits smartass? Because I sure as hell want to apply.

    • CJ September 12, 2015

      Jim, just because your disability can be mitigated with medication doesn’t meant you don’t have the right to use a service dog. YOU are the one who gets to make the choice about what kind of tool you get to use to help you navigate life with a disability. It’s YOUR disability. You can use a service dog. You can take medication. You can alternate between the two. You can leave your service dog at home when you choose. YOUR choice. No guilt.

      • Roymond November 14, 2015

        This reminds me of a patch I want for my dog’s uniform:

        “Dogs are better than drugs”.

    • Loli April 3, 2017

      I can definitely relate to your feelings. I have bipolar 1, and have gotten much better at catching and managing my manic episodes with emergency prescriptions​. Nonetheless, learning that I have the right to the privilege of my SDiT has also helped me feel better adjusted, to the point where I question whether I legitimately “deserve” her. Look at it like this: were I blind, I might be able to get by with the use of a white cane, but who would challenge my choice to team with a guide dog? Are we any less entitled to make the choice of how best to cope with our disorder, just because a pill might serve as our “cane”, while our dog might be more effective?

    • Tena October 26, 2017

      When someone says that to you, just say “Good for you” back and keep walking. They are obviously unthinking idiots.

  • me November 22, 2013

    VERY good blog. I have just two comments.

    “Fake Service Dogs can often be identified by their lack of manners, obvious lack of training and ill behavior.”

    Not entirely true. Just like with people, dogs can fall out of practice too. My disabilities (and an unrelated injury) were responsible for me not going out for MONTHS and not being able to practice public access skills at home (not everything CAN be practiced at home either). Some of my service dog’s skills grew lax and we’re working on it now. She’s developed some unacceptable behaviors, like sniffing at merchandise.

    “Real Service Dog manners, behavior and training cannot be faked.”

    This isn’t entirely true either. Some lay-people can accomplish well trained dogs and it seems to be a growing trend for some dog trainers to pass off dogs as service dogs so they can parade them in places where they’ll get a lot of attention and thus, advertise their dog training services. The government doesn’t seem to care.

    • Phoebe November 22, 2013

      Well your in your first point you are describing a Service Dog In Training. So there is a distinction that your dog’s training is in progress to help with your needs as a disabled person vs a dog that isn’t preparing to be of service. You can educate and tell people where as people with a fake dog usually get flustered when they have to make something up to that effect. As my disability is visible, people believe me when my SDiT is an SDiT and ask me about the tasks he knows and the tasks he’s learning.
      With your second point I agree that there are very well trained fake service dogs. I see that a lot among dog sport competitors!! In fact I am disgusted to know of the president of a dog club whose competition dog is a fake service dog for travel purposes.

      • patti shanaberg December 14, 2013

        Great article – however Service Dogs in Training (SDiT) are not protected by the ADA, though some states do provide legal protection for SDiT. At this point there is no law to my knowledge that prevents service dogs from sniffing merchandise. Maybe there should be but there isn’t yet. I don’t believe the ADA specifies which behaviors are ones that would be considered justification for denying access. If there is such a list – within the ADA I’d be very interested in knowing where under the ADA that can be found.

        • Kwyn Dragyn March 27, 2014

          There is nothing in the ADA that says they are not allowed to sniff merchandise… BUT, it is one of the requirements on the Public Access test that trainers say the dogs should be able to pass before going out in public. Personally I’m undecided on that one because I’ve never known any dog to not sniff at least occasionally.

          • patti shanaberg March 29, 2014

            I think sniffing is one of many grey areas and I guess my point was that with all the increased scrutiny on service dogs and speculation about if they are “fake” or not, sniffing is not a fair criteria to judge the dog’s legitimacy. Needs of various people with disabilities vary widely and they are not all required to meet the same criteria. I know fakes are a real problem but I think it can go too far too. I would hate to see the ADA start requiring a standard test.

          • Chris July 15, 2014

            My dog is trained to leave all merchandise alone, and to not turn and sniff passing customers. That is just bad manners in public, rules or trainers opinions or whatever I don’t care. I am, as the handler, responsible for my dog. If he is ill, or needs to leave to go to the bathroom, it is MY responsibility to take care of him. The businesses I go to know me, and my dog, and love to have us. The only real challengers I have faced have been FOREIGNERS, managing fast food restaurants, who do not know the law. I show them the ADA phone number, end of discussion.

          • windchyme July 30, 2014

            I don’t think service dogs should be sniffing anything too obviously and intently though turning their head briefly towards something in a clothes store without breaking position or stopping doesn’t bother me (my dogs get good at sniffing at a distance without being obvious about it and that is fine- I call that stealth sniffing). I do make distinction with food though. I don’t want my dog getting close to and obviously smelling food no matter how lightly as in a grocery or convenience store. They must avoid even the appearance that they could be sniffing or touching the food in any way. Now that being said,very occasionally my dogs have been known to try to pull a fast one and turn their head and sniff as they pass by. They quickly are corrected. That is called keeping up their training. Service dogs will try to pull minor crap here and there every so often. Doesn’t mean they aren’t well trained or a service dog,

            No one spoke of the disabled persons with trained, but poorly trained dogs. I allow some things that guide dog trainers don’t in the general public access arena, I require some things that they don’t in that arena. My dog has a different job so needs to do things slightly differently. My former dr. office saw my dog repeatedly doing the paws up in my lap task (which I had cued for) and called that misbehavior.

          • windchyme July 31, 2014

            Pass before they go out in public?? I have my dogs out in public long before they perfectly master that kind of test to best train them to master that kind of test. I have them out at a very early age as it has proven to be a highly effective training strategy for long term success for me. The only real difference in the two is that I exert the needed control on the puppy until it is capable of controlling itself and doing the right thing. But then again I have been training service dogs for over 25 years now…so I’ve kind of got it under control. I’ll admit in older pups and dogs that haven’t had the benefit of not knowing any different, there often is a cushion time needed in which you bring the pup under the basic control and compliance you need to have for you to be able to exert that outside control in public. Then I proceed, but for me that time comes long before they can run through that whole test perfectly without me needing to step in and correct or control.

            No dog is perfect all the time- they aren’t robots. The best dogs have off days, they get sick suddenly or just don’t feel good cause they are fighting off a bug, they get a hair up their nose to try to test something to see if the rule is really still the rule. If it weren’t that way then there’d be no need to maintain training. Dogs can and will occasionally try sniffing inappropriately. What matters is what the dog does most of the time and that their indiscretions are few, very small, far between and affect no one in any significant way save their handlers and that they respond immediately to quiet correction and return to the proper behavior.No harm, no foul. If they keep doing it, then some remedial training is in order sooner rather than later.

          • Horse Haven October 14, 2014

            If I ever get my SD it will have to work with my diabetes and my chemical sensitivities. Therefore it will have to sniff in order to back me off of something that could put me in the hospital or kill me.

        • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

          Patti, the ADA is VERY clear about which behaviors justify denial of access. Growling, snapping, and inappropriate elimination (peeing and pooping) are ALL grounds for denial of access. It’s very clear and spelled out in the regs. There are many more, as well.

          • patti shanaberg January 19, 2015

            Yes, “the ADA is VERY clear about which behaviors justify denial of access”, but “sniffing merchandise” is not one of them.

          • patti shanaberg January 19, 2015

            Actually, the ADA is not that specific at all. They do say; “A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken” They certainly don’t say anything about declining access because of a service dog “sniffing merchandise”.

          • Jahna Derr February 5, 2015

            Lisa, Careful… that site is only a summary o the law and not the actual law.

          • patti shanaberg February 6, 2015

            So where can the actual law be found? I have looked and can find no more specifics than what is included in the summary – which is not all that specific about reasons for denial of access. All I can find on that topic is: “A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken.”

          • patti shanaberg February 7, 2015

            Yes, I have read that and am quite familiar with it. That’s exactly what I quoted before. Someone said that is only a summary and to read the law. Is more available or is that it? This is not all that detailed about what behavior would give a property owner the right to ask someone to leave. Again, all it says is; “A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken.” There have been many comments siting far more reasons a property owner has a right to ask someone with a disability & service dog to leave. Based on this document there aren’t nearly as many reasons as others have implied.

          • cissy February 7, 2015

            Check the ADA DOJ website. There should be a link to the actual law there – which BTW, is silent with regard to service dogs. They are part of the DOJ regulations. It is their responsibility to promulgate the regulations to administer and enforce.

          • patti shanaberg February 7, 2015

            If there is any more with regard to the ADA and Service Dogs other than I haven’t been able to find it anywhere – including the DOJ. If anyone can find more please post a link. Frankly, based on what is published, I don’t believe the legal restrictions & requirements for Service Dog behavior and instances where property owners have a right to ask them to leave are nearly as extensive as what others have implied or said. If there is something more detailed please post.

          • Roymond November 14, 2015

            No, growling and barking are part of a question. They are NOT grounds for denial of access — being out of control is.

            My dog growls to warn me about people I shouldn’t interact with. It does not mean he’s out of control, it means he’s doing his job. It’s so rare it always alarms me.

          • Dee June 8, 2016

            Americans with Disabilities Act Title II Regulations
            Part 35 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services
            (as amended by the final rule published on September 15, 2010)


          • Roymond June 9, 2016

            Thanks for the link. Once again I note that growling isn’t mentioned.

      • me January 10, 2014

        She’s fully trained but required a re-fresher. In my opinion (ADA doesn’t go so in depth so I have no choice but to go based on opinion here so ours may differ) this doesn’t make her a SDIT as much as a fully trained SD who just simply needed a refresher. Which can happen from time to time in situations such as mine. If she was disruptive, that would be different and she would need to be pulled from PA. But it wasn’t the case, thankfully because I require her assistance.

        • me January 10, 2014

          BTW, I’m seeing more and more poorly behaved organization and professional trainer trained dogs. The best behaved ones I’m seeing are owner trained, oddly enough. Running into dog reactive guide dogs is becoming a rather common occurrence. But they’re certified and all that. Thankfully my SD is well behaved and happy despite the few minor issues we needed to touch up on or the run in with these aggressive dogs could have caused emotional trauma for her.

          I’m a professional trainer myself and am alarmed at this trend. It’s not safe for anyone concerned.

          • patti shanaberg January 10, 2014

            This is exactly why I think the ADA needs to remain flexible. Too many varied needs can be met in so many ways and specific “service dog training” opens the door to all kinds of both well meaning and not so well meaning trainers to take advantage with poor results. Ill equipped trainers can jump on the band wagon just as these phony ID companies are doing. I’m especially concerned with service dogs being trained with aversive methods such as prong and even shock collars for fast results which I believe could account for the increased number of reactive service dogs. As well as handlers who aren’t sufficiently trained with their dog as a team.

          • Liz March 29, 2014

            Great article on the real value and need for actual service dogs.
            You failed to mention when fake service dogs attack an maul.
            Not all stated have laws against fake service dogs.
            Some states that do have these laws, no one enforced them.
            Even when a fake service dog mauls and permanently scars an innocent child, no consequences happen for that fake handler.
            The only way less fake service dogs will happen is if the law is enforced.
            Real SD’s would never maul an innocent child while on a leash with their owner. Yet if there isn’t any enforced law on that, it will continue to happen.
            I am extremely aware of the benefits of SD, and have a family member who unfortunately qualifies to have one. But I also fully understand the responsibility that comes along with one.
            Please mention more about the legal issue with fake service dogs.
            Thank you

          • Leigh Anne Novak June 29, 2014

            Perhaps you could try to find out which Guide Dog school the dog came from, and notify them of the problem. GD users I know are very reluctant to inform their schools of issues because they are bonded and afraid the dog will be pulled from them. Schools would want to know there is an issue, I’m certain. Again, there is no ‘certified and all that’, other than with an individual school’s standards and testing.

          • cissy July 13, 2014

            How can one tell a fake service dog from a dog that meets ADA or state guidelines? Unless someone says it’s a pet or ESA or therapy dog and can’t answer the 2 questions, then there really is no way to know. I, too, have seen dogs from well-known an respected programs misbehave in places of public accommodation. I stopped dressing my dog because I have invisible disabilities and found a vest now engenders suspicion thanks to the press and organizations like CCI and their advertising and petition campaigns. SDs come in all sizes and breeds and mixes; disabilities are not always visible and even people with visible disabilities can try to pass their pets off as SDs,.Behavior is a standard we all, including the public can understand. As a community, IMO, we should be educating the public and businesses on the rights and responsibilities – emphasis on responsibilities – of service dog owners. Here lies our protection for the public, businesses and our service dogs.Going the certification, licensing route is eating away at the civil rights we fought so hard to achieve.

          • skatinkiki July 13, 2014

            I agree. We received an Autism Service Dog from an organization and he is fearful in public. He would have never passed a public access test. Since being placed, over 20 families have complained of their poorly socialized/trained service dogs provided by this company. We can’t even take our SD in public settings, yet we paid a large amount to receive a well trained SD. Some of these companies are deplorable and contribute to the problem! My rescue dog had better manners in public. 🙁

          • patti shanaberg July 13, 2014

            Many trainers are using choke, pinch and even shock to train service dogs these days. They think they can get fast results and make good $$$ in a shorter amount of time. I suspect this accounts for a lot of poorly behaved and even aggressive SD’s these days. I don’t think any dog should be trained with punishment but especially not a SD. Also, the same old underestimation of what is required of a handler over the long term regardless of previous training. Owners must take responsibility for maintaining the early training a dog receives and trainers must take responsibility for teaching owners how important that is. Dog training is not like baking a cake that’s done when the timer goes off.

      • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

        Great post, Phoebe. Why haven’t you turned that dog club president in? It’s well within your rights to do so.

    • Buster May 30, 2014

      Any dog can have a bad day, mine is in her Terrible Twos and challenges me occasionally.
      I have the same issue, I have a good working DAD but I don’t use her at work because of the nature of my job. I test and eat every 2 hours at work but she goes everywhere else with me. I just don’t go out often enough to work her in all public settings. Dogs can get a tad rusty, it usually takes us 2-3 store/business visits before she settles back into the routine if she hasn’t been out in a while. Since she lives by her nose, sniffing is her job but she usually does it at a distance. She will alert on other diabetics from 10-20 feet away, tapping me and pointing at them if their sugar is way high or low too.
      She is owner trained but with help from professional SD trainers who just don’t do DADS. Her nose training I have done with help from other diabetics and Sugar Dogs International. We have never been challenged to produce any paperwork but I do have certs in my car in case I ever want or need to produce them.

      • cissy September 10, 2015

        There is no certification unless you live in a state that offers/requires it. And even then, federal law prohibits certification as a condition of access. That said, I do have NYC SD tags and will produce them for a police officer (after handing him a card with ADA SD info). I won’t produce it to a “gatekeeper” as a condition of access. Buster, what kind of certs. are you carrying?

    • Julie Dole June 9, 2014

      But in general it is true. The vast majority of real service dogs that I’ve seen helping the blind, wheelchair-bound, etc, have been quiet, and focused on both specific tasks (such as crossing the street, or preventing the owner form crossing in traffic) and not distracted by other people or pets.

      Fake service dogs commonly acts as they normally would, as untrained dogs: curious about their surroundings, acting on the curiosity by wandering to investigate, barking, etc.

      I generally take photos of these fakes and their owners, and post them online. Their random, distracted behavior is hugely different from the actions and behavior of genuine service dogs.

      • Chris July 15, 2014

        Again Julie you are too quick to judge. One thing in this article I found lacking, is the fact that small dogs (typically) are better at diabetic and epileptic seizures. They are labeled and trained to “act out” as the public may view it, but in fact are trying to alert their handler to the impending seizure, often by jumping up, barking, etc. If the people around would look, the dog has medical alert info for the person, and this behavior is not bad at all, it is trained! These dogs need to get help for their humans fast. As for the distraction, well that is on a case by case issue in my opinion. My dog glanced at a lab with a wheelchair Friday, but once I said “ignore” his focus was back to me. That comes from training. Yes I WANT him to look. How else can he learn? but he did not pull on me, or run over to bother the other working dog. That is training. oh I could just go on and on.

        • marvin947 March 7, 2015

          I agree with you chris, And as for you Julie, you are an intrusive moron!
          You think you know every thing and you don’t!! Yes, the rule’s are there for
          a very good reason. But before you start acting like a stupid kojak with a
          Kodak, maybe you need to think that there might be some extenuating
          sercomstances that is causes the dog to act up. For example one time my
          service dog started pulling on me while I was I the middle of a busy crosswalk.
          She was whining and crying making it her mission to get me out of the street,
          and across the rail road tracks. And the reason why she did this is because,
          she knew I was about to have a seizure! And to think that if you had been
          there with your trusty camera, you would have been taking pictures to prove
          my dog is a fake. When what my dog was doing her job!! So shame on you for
          being a idiot! And as for the rest of her training pepper is a well trained
          service dog! She does her job and follows all commands very well. As is if
          it’s any of your business! But You just made me mad.

          written from, Linda J McCreary

      • windchyme July 30, 2014

        Oh Julie, you’d better be careful with that. Do that to the wrong person….like me….and you could be sued to heck and back. Just saying. Libel and slander you know. Just because you are online doesn’t mean you couldn’t be tracked down or a judge couldn’t order your ISP to hand over your info.

      • Elmer Ravenovich September 28, 2014

        Glad you don’t have the right or power to judge my service dog as fake as her tasks require her to look around and explore her environment. Also I am not strict with her as long as she is meeting my needs and not violating the law I let her be a friendly dog that goofs off with in limits.but she is still a full service dog

      • me November 8, 2014

        My SD is retired now due to illness, but I wouldn’t want a dog oblivious to their surroundings. A dog like that isn’t a dog, it’s a robot. Traditionally, those robotic dogs you’re describing have been trained via pretty harsh methods, resulting in something called general response depression.

        That’s not a happy, safe worker. That’s a chronically stressed, shut down beast of burden.

        • patti shanaberg November 8, 2014

          Regarding: “those robotic dogs you’re describing have been trained via pretty harsh methods, resulting in something called general response depression. That’s not a happy, safe worker. That’s a chronically stressed, shut down beast of burden.” Excellent response!!! So true! Thank you!

    • Nancy July 12, 2014

      Me, I have the same problem where I haven’t been able to get out in some time. My SD skills have fallen out of practice. I dropped something at the pharmacy the other day and she just looked at me. At home she picks up and brings me everything. It is very hard to keep up those skills in a public place when you just don’t feel well enough to go out.

    • Busterbnutz September 12, 2014

      I agree, my dog doesn’t get worked much in public, between my job(ladders are a big part of my job so she isn’t there)) and health issues, we don’t go out but maybe once every 2 weeks and that is to the grocery. She gets lax and it takes 10-15 minutes to get her focused and back in her groove.

      • Geraldine Markstone September 22, 2014

        I have a Service dog and I don’t get out as much as it requires to keep my dog from getting lax. She is perfect at home. So I have paid to have a trainer come for six weeks, once a week to work with me and my dog. We are brushing up on some things and learning some new things too. I want to add that dogs can have an off day when they are not feeling well. I don’t go out in public very often but have not had anyone be rude to me and only once was I asked “what is your disability?” I said “you are not allowed to ask that but you can ask what does my dog do for me”. He was asking because he has a blind child who will get a Service Dog. So people are curious and need to learn. Educate the public in a nice way.

        • Roymond November 14, 2015

          When someone asks what my disability is, I just tell them that Bammer knows, and that’s what matters. It’s a nicer way of letting them know it isn’t their business.

  • Monica November 22, 2013

    Fakers are certainly a problem for sure. We run into them from time to time. Most of the ones I have seen are small dogs like Chihuahua’s, poms, and other small dogs. They are usually in shopping cart baskets or sitting in bus seats ect. Most of them growl and snap if you get near them. Not a good thing. Some years ago a lady brought her lab mix that she claimed was her seizure dog into a bird shop were I was shopping with my Service dog. I was talking to an employee when the dog broke loose from her and attacked my Mobility Service Dog who was standing beside me.The employee and I had to physically remove the dog from off my dog. My dog bless her didn’t move or react. The business owner told the lady she had to remove the dog. This is a real problem. It could have turned out bad for me and my dog. This is a very real danger and I don’t know what can be done to stop it. Actually I fear that eventually it will get so bad that they will have to have stricter laws and that will hurt everyone who needs these dogs.

  • Lynda Hadsell November 22, 2013

    You’ve covered it beautifully. The worst trouble I’ve had was when I went out of state to my son’s wedding. I was asked to provide a copy of my Medical Alert Dog’s license at the hotel I was staying at and my daughter-in-law refused to allow my dog in the sanctuary of the church for the wedding, insisting that only guide dogs were service dogs and the pastor of the church was in agreement that my dog had to remain in a crate in a classroom, separated from me and the rest of the wedding party. I have been asked to show her license in places around home, too, on occasion, mostly in restaurants claiming if the health inspector came along and saw the dog and there was no license proving SD status that they would be in trouble. I carry her license on me just because it’s less hassle, but I don’t know what I should do when they insist on “proof.”

    • me January 10, 2014

      Just fyi, this sets a bad precedent for the next team who’s not carrying their license on them, as well they shouldn’t since the law doesn’t require it of them. If you’re being denied your rights, you can call non-emergency police to enforce them.

      • patti shanaberg January 10, 2014

        I encourage service dog handlers to carry information explaining their rights along with the fact that no certification, ID or medical diagnosis information is required or even lawful to be asked for. Pet Partners has a very thorough brochure for that purpose. While service dog handlers should not be put in a position to have to educate, it is what it is. There are too many people in my opinion supplying paperwork that is not required by law which perpetuates the misunderstanding that property owners and managers have a right to ask for it. And as previously stated, this creates unfair problems for those who don’t carry paperwork. Pet Partners brochure can be found at

      • camelotg December 7, 2015

        Our county issues a licence. Unfortunately it is very fragile and I keep the thing in a little pouch on my dog’s vest. In California every dog, service or not, must be licensed and you must be able to show proof of rabies vaccination. I have requested business owners to ask the owners of these fake dogs for their county or city licence and prove proof of rabies. When the owner can’t or won’t show those two things they are immediately considered a threat to public welfare. I have animal control and health department on speed dial.

        • patti December 7, 2015

          regardless of a county license they are not allowed to request to see a license or any documentation by federal law. Federal law trumps county law. I would like to encourage everyone to carry a copy of the ADA Service Dog Requirements available at and give that to people rather than any other documentation because providing any documentation perpetuates the misunderstanding that they have a right to ask. I really think service dog owners must accept a certain level of responsibility to help educate for the benefit of all – especially those that come after them.

          • Roymond December 7, 2015

            Patti is quite right: a business MAY NOT ask anything but the questions specified on the DoJ ADA website — period. By encouraging business owners to ask for ANYTHING else, camelotg, you are encouraging them to go against federal law and putting them at risk of legal action against them.

            I suspect that most places work the way things go here: rabies certification and license certification can only be asked for by cause, which tends to mean by law enforcement, period. Even when a dog attacks and draws blood, the victim is not authorized to ask the status of rabies shots; that is the province of law enforcement.

            Owners have to follow the law and get their dogs licensed, if required by local or state law, and that usually includes proof of required vaccinations. But it is not in the authority of any business to ask that, Thus, you’re giving out bad advice and confusing people — at best.

            I carry a dozen cards I got from sitstay that have the key questions a business may ask and the reasons for which a service dog may be ejected, along with contact information for the DoJ. I’ve given out quite a pile of them, often in situations where a business owner is arguing with a service dog (or claimed service dog) owner, to clarify things. I’ve given out a decent number to businesses who just want to know the rules. That’s the kind of thing you ought to carry and provide — not incorrect advice. However good your intentions, you may end up causing significant harm.

        • cissy December 7, 2015

          Interesting. It is my understanding that the law that gives SD users the most protection is the law the prevails, and in this case it’s Federal ADA regulations. You may be giving out information that could lead to a federal lawsuit or an ADA complaint. Perhaps you should call the ADA hotline before continuing to do this. How do you believe CA statutes should be enforced for people who lice in other states and use SDs?

        • Loli April 3, 2017

          My SDiT has had mammary cancer. Waivers can and should be provided for immuno-compromised SDs with regard to rabies shots. My dog has had plenty vaccinations in her lifetime. She is not a public danger. Vaccinations are now a danger to her. Please take it easy with threat accusations and”public welfare”. Watching my dog endure surgery and then chemo was heartwrenching. Thank God she is fine now and still with me.

    • windchyme July 30, 2014

      I explain to them that I am not legally required to show proof to anyone and I give them a copy of the DOJ guidance on service dogs. I REFUSE to show my proof to anyone but the police if I have to call them. If I do it then they’ll expect everyone to do it and I just made someone’s life that much harder. No thanks, I’ll take a little more hassle if it means someone else has less…for all I know I can handle it better than the next person.

      • patti shanaberg July 30, 2014

        Good for you! I love that you don’t show the written proof that is not required. It’s so true – in many realms of life – that we often have the opportunity to do what’s right for the greater good but take the easy way out for our own comfort or convenience. More often than not the tiny bit of extra trouble we go to in those instances saves others much more trouble than it takes for us to do the right thing. Bravo!

    • Autumn May 27, 2016

      They can’t insist on proof. Doing so is against the law. The ADA specifically states this. Know your rights, and stand up for yourself! The church, the pastor, and your daughter-in-law all need to be schooled.

      I printed up a few paragraphs from an page that I keep with me so I can hand it over to ignorant people who think I need to carry some sort of proof of Shadow’s status or my disability. I gave up arguing with idiots long ago. A typed statement from the ADA goes a lot further. I can’t look it up right now because I’m on my phone, but I think it’s (try underscores, or 2011, or dog instead of animal if that URL doesn’t work for you).

      What you can do when some ignorant ass like the pastor of that church successfully keeps your service dog out is to file a complaint with the ADA, write a letter to the church and/or whomever that branch answers to (sounds like maybe it’s a Mormon tabernacle) and sue the church. You were discriminated against. Even if you choose only to ask for compensation for court costs, it sends a message to the church that religion doesn’t excuse discrimination.

      Frankly, I think the the tolerance of the disabled community to discrimination is one reason so many get away with discriminating against us.

      • Mardi June 17, 2016

        Excuse me but churches are exempt from the ADA. Churches and private clubs. Yes, there are churches that welcome service dogs, not all do though.

  • Dustina ILia November 22, 2013

    I thought it was a good article but I must say that as I child, I too was guilty of wishing for a Service Dog when I saw a lady one time in a restaurant with her dog. Never thought about it being a slap in the face of the person who had the service dog. I just knew that I loved my dog and wanted to be able to take my dog with me everywhere I went because I did love him that much.
    Now I am on the other side of the coin and I am blind and have a Guide Dog that has been professionally trained from an accredited Guide Dog School to do the Service that he provides for me. I would never wish blindness on anyone.
    It irritates me that there are so many sites out there where you can register your dog as a Service Dog based solely on one’s honesty and honor. If a person is willing to go so far at to purchase a cape, a SD patch in order to pass their fake dog as a service dog, then of course they are going to state that their dog is a service dog. The “HONOR” system doesn’t work and put’s the public, business and all in jeapordy due to fake service dogs that can present the fake ID’s and paperwork. There wouldn’t be so many fake dogs out there if there were not sites and business out there making a killing for selling such products to people who merely want to take their dog everywhere and pass it off as a service dog when it is not. I can prove that my dog is a genuine Service Dog……….can those that fake their dogs prove it? I have ID directly from the School that I received the Guide Dog from with the name of their school on it, their address, their phone number and a picture of me with the Dog. The dog’s harness also has the name of the School embosseled into the harness as well. Most fake dogs just wear a generalized patch or cape (often handmade) with no ID or papers to show where the dog was professionally trained. That itself is a dead give away as the School want’s people to know where the dog came from as it promotes their School and their training. It’s like, free advertisement for them. I registered my legitimate Service Guide Dog with the USSDR site but at the same time……I can supply proof that he is a genuine service dog. How many people that register their dogs on site can actually do that? That would be interesting to know. Dishonest people are not going to live up to the “HONOR” system and very few are prosecuted for their deceit.
    There’s so much talk about invading the privacy of people who have service dogs but a vast majority of people who have service dogs are already on disability and receiving a SS Check or a Disability Check. Their disability is already confirmed.
    Couldn’t a person just provide their Medicare Card as proof of a disability without giving away their privacy of what their disability is or put some kind of symbol on their card that they utilize a service dog trained from a profession or Legitimate Service Dog Training School? Why does it have to be so difficult to accomodate some kind of identification without exposing their privacy?

    • Jim November 22, 2013

      What about owner trained dogs?

      • Kea Grace November 22, 2013

        There’s not a single issue in the world under the law or ADA with owner-trained Service Dogs. In fact, the ADA is written in a way that grants allows owner-trainers the greatest degree of access and freedom possible while still protecting the rights of businesses and other public accommodations. It’s vital, though, that all trainers of Service Dogs, owner-trainers and program trainers alike, present the best image possible and adhere to standards of training and behavior so their canine partners and trainees don’t contribute to the poor public image of Service Dogs.

        • Phyllis Rukeyser November 25, 2013

          I live in S Florida where there are many country club gated communities. I was asked to leave the club house of one of these developments and told that since they are not a piblic facility, run by a Home Owners Association. I could be asked to leave with my service dog. Please let me know what are the rules and regulations for these instances.
          Thank you

          • Leigh Anne Novak June 29, 2014

            That is my understanding of the law, Phyllis. “Private” facilities are not covered under ADA, per se. There are exceptions/gray areas as regards some circumstances. Someone else here may be able to explain it. Another good reason to use a professional trainer/School trained dog – they may be able to help your HOA understand the role of your Service Dog.

          • Jim July 15, 2014

            If it’s a place of public accommodation (they allow in anyone, besides the owners) then the ADA covers it.
            If they claim this is part of a HOA, then the FHA covers it, as below. Interestingly, it’s cited from a Florida organization.

            FN1. The Fair Housing Act reads as follows, in pertinent part:
            [I]t shall be unlawful- …
            (f)(1) To discriminate in the sale or rental, or otherwise to make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a handicap of-
            (A) that buyer or renter…. [or]
            (2) To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap of-
            (a) that person….
            (3) For purposes of this subsection, discrimination includes- …
            (B) a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling….

          • Autumn May 27, 2016

            They have no idea what they’re talking about. Gated community, golf club, yacht club, Mormon tabernacle, private country club, funeral, mosque, or 4-H meeting- the law applies all the same. Turn them in. File a formal complaint. Threaten a law suit. Someone, like maybe their halfway intelligent lawyers, will set them straight and tell them to settle out of court because they will LOSE in court. They have to allow service dogs just like they have to have a couple disabled parking spots and a wheelchair ramp! The crap people get away with infuriates me.

      • Busterbnutz September 11, 2014

        I have trained 2 DADs for my own use and had no issues with either getting public access. I have over 300 hours in my current dog’s training. What I take offense with is these rescue organizations saving pits from shelters, giving them 2 weeks of in and out the door training, then pawning them off as PTSD or emotional dogs on unsuspecting soldiers. 90% of the ‘denied service” articles you see are soldiers with pits as PTSD. The dogs get a bogus PAT and are handed out in Fla and Texas, I saw a show on TV about it. The government is buying these half trained dogs and I believe the soldiers deserve better.
        I also believe there needs to be a doctor required card for ALL service dogs to stop all the fakes out there. You walk into a store, produce a medical card that simply says I have a disability under the ADA and the doctor prescribed a dog.
        I think all “feel good” dogs should have to perform a task, being there to hug and hold doesn’t qualify.

        • Beth Canter March 25, 2015

          Now that is finally a solution Busterbnutz! Anyone with a disability requiring a dog needs physical or psychological treatment. A little paperwork can be done and boom a license, owner or facility trained… I had to get my doc’s consent for my agency anyway so it is not unheard of. It won’t list the disease and can afford us more privacy. HA! Printed name and year pic. Maybe is doesn’t expire cause I know this sounds harsh but eventually the dog will and another one will be needed with a different picture. So it is non-transferable… Not that REAL people in need would do that. Hum… Thughts?

    • Asec November 23, 2013

      Not all legitimate service dogs come from a school.

    • Cindy morgan November 24, 2013

      There is a simple way to have identification for legit service dogs, (ending fakes) for both owner trained and program traine dogs. That will not discriminate against anyone.
      If animal control officers at the state, city, and county level, were trained to administer a public access test and a task test, to trained service dogs, as well as see proof of the handler’s disability (SS letter, Dr. Letter of disability, ect.), they could issue an ID or a tag for the dog that would represent that the dog has PASSED a public access and task test and the handler is in fact disabled. There would be no need to disclose the nature of the disability, but the dog would be tested, no matter where it was trained. If this were to occur the fakes could not pass off their dog as a SD, and owner trainers could still buy SD equipment online without going through an assistance dog organization. Cost for this could be the same price you would pay for a local city license or it could be exempt like
      the local city license fee is for legit service dogs.

      • Dustina ILia November 25, 2013

        Sounds like a simple solution to the problem that would not invade anyone’s privacy and would protect people, business, the comunity and service dogs from those that want to pass their dogs off a service dogs…that are not. Of course, Animal Control would probably state that they do not have the time nor the man power to accomodate such a thing but then again, how many service dogs are there in any given town or city? I know that I am in several blind groups here in my city and so far I have yet to meet anyone with a service dog or a Guide Dog so there can’t be that many in any given town or city. Sounds like a good solution to me.

        • Jim November 25, 2013

          I agree, it does sound like a good option. However, I can see the possibility for drastic inconsistencies in evaluations, and counties/cities asserting that you must re-test if you are new to their area. To resolve this, the state may issue a standardized test to all agencies, provide training to all examiners, and audit the issuance of licenses on a regular basis.

          The amount of examinations given in a particular period doesn’t matter; you still need to train everyone. This puts a burden on the departments involved in developing and administering the exam. This leads us to cost; it is not cheap to train people in a wide scale. Do you pass this cost on to the handlers? Do you increase the cost of regular licences so handlers can be exempt?

          What would be the option to appeal a decision of an examiner? Would you go to the courts? There is a cost associated to that, which the handler may not be able to afford. Additionally, there is a burden on the county/city to defend the examination. Or, the county/city attorney may decide that any challenge to examinations aren’t worth pursuing, thus allowing a decision in favor of the appellant. Then wait to assert legal power when there is a challenge by a business, which is essentially allowing businesses to sue the county/city because they assert a licensed SD wasn’t behaving properly. This will cost the county/city money to defend.

          And because no county/city wants to take on the liability, we are back to what we have today.

          I’m not poo-pooing the idea. I appreciate that people are taking the time to think about solutions to the problem.

          • DA December 12, 2013

            I am just starting to check out service dog training and licensing information – an accident several years ago left me with restricted leg mobility and balance issues that are becoming harder to work through as I age. I have also been part of the dog show community and know first hand of cases where dogs have been improperly licensed as “service dogs” even though people have been unable to obtain documentation from their doctors stating that they have a disability (I should also state that I know of people in this community that appear to be taking correct steps to license their dogs, as well). Like I said, I’m new to all of this, but wouldn’t it help if the licensing agencies were required to have documentation from a doctors office stating that the person truly does have a disability which would benefit from a service dog before they can issue the id cards? I wonder if it would be possible for the service dog license to be issued through state driver’s license agencies (just thinking out loud here). I agree that testing the dogs themselves would require a lot of additional training and cost to the agencies, but would it be possible for the state drivers license agencies to issue licenses with proper documentation from a doctors office (like what is necessary to receive a handicap parking sticker). This would at least eliminate those that don’t really have a disability, or at the very least, make it a little harder for them to get the required documentation, and possibly discourage them from getting the license which anyone can currently get off EBay for a few dollars. The actual dog training documentation does get a little trickier since you wouldn’t want to exclude owner trained dogs, but in my recent research, I have discovered (as you all probably already know) that there are agencies which will test your owner trained dog to make sure that it can actually accomplish the tasks it was trained to do. Again, this is all new to me, but I want to make sure I get it right if I move forward in training my dog.

          • Jim December 12, 2013

            DA, I was just having this conversation, again, today, about using the driver’s license agencies to issue licenses following state-based regulations. I like the idea.
            But I still see a pitfall in the training requirement. The retailers associations will lobby state legislatures to include a training requirement for licensing, in order to “protect their interests.” This could be filled by a local trainer, by providing an affidavit of training. But then, how does the state rely on that trainers qualifications? The chain of questions goes on and on.

            When government gets involved it’s never an easy answer. 🙂

          • Amanda H February 16, 2014

            Yes it will cost money to license SDs, but I believe it would be worth it. As far as the method of licensing is concerned, MANY other countries already have these programs. We just have to be willing to listen and learn from others. Most of what I’ve read about the other programs says that they do it through Dr. and Vet. offices, both having to sign off. It doesn’t matter who trained the dog, as long as it is trained well. Maybe treat it like a drivers license test, the dogs have so many try’s to pass before a standard wait period for more training. We can still allow businesses to remove ill-behaved dogs, but also allow the SD owner to report a problem. Anything new will have its pro’s and con’s, fans and haters, but I think it will be worth it. Something I think needs more clarification and help is the category of Companion/Comfort dogs. Its a HUG problem in my college town. What classifies a dog as a companion dog, what is an actual medical need, and who has the authority to say there is a need. Way too many students and convinced their home Dr that they’re so homesick they need their dog. It drives me crazy.
            As a side note, I would LOVE to become a SD trainer, but through a credited organization. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

          • debbie1817 February 16, 2014

            Amanda H This Able Veteran offers a course at it’s facility to become a trainer you can contact them at or you can look them up on Face Book by This Able Veteran and Like there page.

          • Roymond November 14, 2015

            Bypass the local and state authorities altogether: if a person is disabled for IRS purposes, then HHS could issue a card, free, stating that a person is disabled.

        • Autumn May 27, 2016

          Service dogs for the blind require much more training than service dogs for most other disabilities, so I think the pool from which you draw your conclusion on the number of service dogs in your community doesn’t reflect the comminity as a whole. I see service dogs in my community all the time. I’m sure I see one at least every few weeks, and I don’t get out much.

      • Danielle November 25, 2013

        I wish this was the case. I have a couple service dogs that I trained myself. Some people have told me that they are too small to be mobility assistance dogs. I’m 100 pounds so comparatively my dogs are 30 pounds each. Most people weigh more and as such, should have bigger dogs. I wish my dogs could just have tags that said they were trained, the same way there is a test for therapy dogs.

        I took my dogs with me to the Grand Canyon (my biggest life accomplishment). I went from a wheelchair to hiking the Grand Canyon in two days. My dogs gave me mobility support especially on the way down. When we came up after hiking over 16 miles in 2 days, we walked to the bus that brought us back to our car. The bus driver goes that one looks like a service dog, but that one is too small. She’s a puppy. She can’t ride on the bus. Really? We get clearance from the Grand Canyon officials that allowed us to camp at the bottom and you’re telling me that after over 16 miles, she is too young to ride the bus? She didn’t do anything wrong. What a joke. I couldn’t be too mad though. It was my 24th birthday and the biggest accomplishment of my life. I was just like, “She’s a service dog and she’s riding on the bus. Thanks.” Stares from all around… People love drama.

        • me January 10, 2014

          30 lbs IS too small for a mobility dog for a person over three times their weight and size, and it’s especially unsafe to use puppies for mobility as their growth plates haven’t fused.

          • Buster May 30, 2014

            I agree, my dog is also used for balance and I’m a big guy but the trainers told me she couldn’t handle any weight or pulling until 18 months -2 years, she is almost 60 pounds.
            No trainer would EVER recommend what you are doing, plus a puppy would at best be “in Training”, not a SD. These actions are what give self-trainers a bad rep and you cause the rest of us drama.

        • Autumn May 27, 2016

          I have credibility issues with about everything you said. Wheelchair-bound but hiked 16 miles in the Grand Canyon? Phhlt. I don’t think the ADA specifically disallows multiple service animals for a single handler, but it always refers to them in the singular. Two 30-pound “service dogs” instead of one 60-pound dog? I suspect you’re one the people this article rails against. You lied in order to take your pets to the Grand Canyon.

      • cissy December 12, 2013

        If the purpose is to test for public access skills all that’s being tested is how the dog behaves on that particular day in that particular situation. Given how well motor vehicle licensing works to prevent accidents, I can’t see any benefit to this. What I can see benefit in is educating the public and places of public accommodation that as the ADA Guidance states, a person can be asked to remove his/her dog if it is creating a nuisance. Please remember, the ADA is civil rights, not entitlement law. Having to show ID, certification, etc. as a condition of access when other people do not is a violation of our civil rights and the DOJ has consistently backed this position.

        • Cindy Morgan December 12, 2013

          As a Service dog trainer it’s very frustrating to try to train dogs when people with their untrained pet dogs enter the same establishments and cause issues that prevent you from going back. I understand your argument on the ADA civil rights part of the law but when your rights are being violated by idiots there has got to be something that we can do. The next step in the whole evolution of the ADA law could possibly be a limitation of where and when you can get a service dog and who can do the training. the idea that I have is a solution to a crazy problem and would help both owner trained service dogs as well as program trained service dogs. if the ADA goes the other way owner trained service dogs may end up being a thing of the past. There is a movement right now funded by the assistance dog international and canine companions for Independence that is huge and spreading across America that wishes to and all Internet sales of assistance dog equipment and internet certifications and may change the face of who and where, one can train assistance dogs to serve the public. I am all for ending Internet certifications as they are absolutely worthless and are in violation of the ADA Law. However if they eliminate the sale of equipment, owner trainers could not (unless they made their own) acquire the equipment that they need to use for their dogs such as balance harnesses. Getting a tag on your dog designating that your dog is trained and can access the public does not violate your civil rights, it just provides proof that your dog is trained and it has nothing to do with you as an individual, or your disability or your need to have said dog. It only states that the dog that you have (due to your legal civil right to take with you into public places) has been in fact trained to be in public and you now (legally civilly or otherwise) have the right to have that dog accompany you and places of public accommodation. Civil law goes both ways it is not only designed to protect you but it is also designed to protect the public. by letting the public know that your dog has been trained to navigate public access gives the public peace of mind that your dog is trained and should not be of any harm to them, and other train assistance dogs.

      • windchyme July 30, 2014

        Cindy, I wouldn’t trust several animal control’s I’ve dealt with to clean up my dogs poop. They like to try to play god and decide who they thing should be able to have a service dog. I was told (and I quote) when I went into animal control to talk about a volunteer app I put in with the service dog tag app with my rottweiler service dog who was perfectly trained, “Rottweilers are dangerous, vicious dogs and should not be allowed out in public around people.” They then “lost” my app twice and ignored two reminder letters about my app. I didn’t get the local tag for two years until they threatened to ticket me for not having a licence (because I refused to pay for one since fed, state, and local law says I don’t have to and they were passively aggressively refusing to give me the free one). I threatened them right back with the proof I had of what they had been doing. I had my tag within the week. Others said that since my disability was mental illness that I didn’t really need a service dog and refused to give me a tag. And this is all despite proof of training and disability.

        Trust Animal control? No thanks.

        • patti shanaberg July 30, 2014

          Absolutely right! “Training” Animal Control to test for anything would be a disaster. And who would do that “training” – disaster!

        • Cindy Morgan July 31, 2014

          Thanks, windchyme….did not think of this, but understand….question if not them, who?

          • windchyme August 23, 2014

            That’s the thing…who? That is why the system we have is still the best system yet. All options aren’t wise or feasible…someone has to pay for it…and I know I don’t have the cash. Training experience and knowhow I have in abundance…cash not so much….

          • laura July 19, 2015

            I carry a letter from my doctor at all times stateing I need service dog and that I am not to be separated from it. Our traing was with a professional trainer.

      • Autumn May 27, 2016

        No, no, no! You’re not thinking it through. Your letti g county employees who are hired for animal control to decide whether someone is disabled! Furthermore, there is no proof for most disabilities. What do you want, a county or state to issue a “disabled” ID card? Then what happens when you move to another county or state? Who’s going to decide what “disabled ID” is acceptable, or what medical professional can legitimately make that determination? Who is going to drive a blind person to those tests you think they and their dogs should be subjected to? What about the people whose disability itself prevents them from undergoing these tests, or makes it unnecessarily difficult? THAT is the very definition of discrimination!!

        Finally, there is no set of behaviors that a service dog must do or not do to be allowed public access. They don’t have to pass any canine good citizen tests. They just can’t disturb people, tear things up, or eliminate on the floor. It’s that simple.

        The poor SOBs at Animal Control in most counties or cities barely make enough money to get by, and have way more responsibility than they can manage already. They do not need, nor can they properly take on the enormous responsibility of deciding who is disabled and whether their dog is well enough behaved.

        Fake service dogs are not a significant problem. Ignorance and discrimination are.

        • Roymond May 28, 2016

          “Disturbing” people isn’t a valid reason to eject a service dog; it takes substantively interfering with the operation of the business or posing an actual threat.

          • Autumn June 2, 2016

            Sorry I wasn’t clear enough. Disturbing people is a valid reason when the disturbance is significant enough. You can eject a person with a service dog for the same reasons you can eject someone without a service dog- like yelling or barking in a theatre. If people are disturbed because they just don’t like dogs, or they’re allergic, or even if the dog just makes a small amount of noise for a short time, you’re correct, it isn’t enough of a disturbance to warrant removal. The law is written to prevent people from using it as an excuse to keep service dogs out.

    • Danielle November 25, 2013

      I have a service dog that I personally trained for my disability. I’m 24 years old and look 15. I used to be in a wheelchair, but now walk pretty normally, but have trouble with squatting and such. My dog is trained in mobility assistance. She can pick stuff up, take off socks, open drawers, etc. I appreciate that the law allowed me to train my own service dog, but at the same time, I wish there was a test for service dogs the same way there is a test for therapy dogs because even though places aren’t allowed to ask you for proof, some places do and since they don’t know what to expect as proof, one place in particular gave me a hard time to the point of wasting over an hour of my time trying to figure out the law (at a national park) while I was quite honestly fuming because I just wanted to enjoy the park. My dog wasn’t misbehaving in any way. The park ranger just saw young “able bodied” female and decided to harass me and instead of thanking me for giving my disability card from my handicapped placard and a doctor’s note….because I’m not on disability/medicaid/etc…he continued to harass me. He didn’t let me leave. He told me that he was well aware of the law and that I was wrong and proceeded to call another park ranger who read him the law. I went back to the car to sit down and my boyfriend talked to him. The park ranger thanked my boyfriend for coming over saying that he was the rational one. My boyfriend defended me and said, “It’s not about being rational or irrational. You have no idea what that girl has been through and yet you continue to harass her even with proof of a disability and doctor’s note for a service dog.” And it gets better…I realize that my dog has a tag (from walmart) that says NJ Service Dog which of course I created on their machine. I bring this over to the guy and say, “It says NJ Service Dog.” He tells me that’s all I needed to show him. My head was about to explode. I said, “This shows how ignorant you are. I train my dog as a service dog and then get a tag at walmart….anyone can get a tag at Walmart” He didn’t care. That’s all he needed to see. That’s why all the fake service dog handlers get away with it.

      • Cindy Morgan December 12, 2013

        ON NOVEMBER 25, 2013 20:25:57
        I really like your response….and that is why I believe it is time to have a “legit” Service Dog tag for “trained” dogs that meet public access standards.

        • Roymond November 14, 2015

          If you’re not going to require that of everyone, then you’re proposing a “separate but equal” system, which is unconstitutional. If you’re going to require it of everyone, then YOU write the checks to pay for the training for everyone whose income is less than 150% of the federal poverty level.

          Some of us can barely afford to have our dogs, and you want to impose more costs? >facepalm<

    • Lia July 13, 2014

      You can get Medicare without being disabled (Medicare based on age) and you can have a disability that doesn’t require a service dog. So I’m not sure what a Medicare card will prove.

    • windchyme July 30, 2014


      Personally I want nothing to do with any agency/school trained dog. I’ve seen all kinds of misbehavior in those dogs that I would never put up with and they fail to train things that I find essential for a service dog, and don’t even use the breed I prefer. I am a private service dog trainer that used to mentor and assist people in owner training their service dogs and have contributed to books about service dogs. I can and have done way better than most of the school trained dogs I’ve seen not to say that I am perfect or anything.

      Instead of pulling out and flashing a card everywhere I go maybe I should just wear a gold star on my jacket (no offense or belittling of that situation intended). I’m not real great with the idea of being stopped everywhere I go and having to fumble around in my purse and go through a conversation while other people walk right in.

      I’d wager you say that precisely BECAUSE you don’t live that life. People see the distinctive guide harness and generally leave those people alone. The guide dogs are the least harrassed service dog users followed by those in wheelchairs or with other very visible disabilities. Those of us with hidden disabilities get the brunt of it because it’s easy to fake having a hidden disability.

      • turtlemom3 March 15, 2015

        Windchyme – My mobility service dog was trained by a reputable service dog organization that specializes in PTSD, mobility and Autism service dogs. They came to my home before even accepting me as a potential client. They had me describe and demonstrate my needs for them. They made several suggestions. Their organization uses Labs, Glabs, and Goldens for the most part. These are the breeds and mixes that are most amenable for the conditions they specialize in. If I had strongly wanted a different breed, I could have gone to a different organization. The two dogs I have had, each had nearly 3000 hours of training – from puppyhood up. They were ready to perform all the basic tasks (obedience, of course), picking things up, helping me with balance, seeking my husband to help me if I fainted or fell, dial 911 on a K9 phone if I fell while home alone, help me with checkout activity at a store, retrieving the phone and/or my cell when I leave them places. My present mobility service dog (as did my first) one, pays attention to me, ignores temptations in a store, and quietly goes under a table or chair to be unobtrusive in restaurants or waiting rooms.

        I am not a dog trainer. I can reinforce, and add a few tasks to the list as needed, but starting from scratch is impossible for both my husband and me. That’s why I’m glad we are in the cachement area for the organization that provided both of my dogs. They continue to help. If something starts going wrong, all I need to do is call the lead trainer and she will help me get things going right again.

        Wish I could post a picture of my dog! He is super-iffic!

  • Andrew Hilkey November 22, 2013

    The link below may be of interest. It is an example of how vulnerable a disabled handler and their service K9 can be and how they may feel in public.

    • Linda Wichowski November 22, 2013

      I read that article and Even though that Service dog will recover will it be mentally able to continue working? Service dogs can be traumatized just as any one of us can. My SD is Owner trained, and I am her Handler and we went through the classes and we still work on skills. My dog will surprise me with seeing or sensing something , and will pull me out of a situation she senses I am not comfortable with , in different ways depending on the place and what is going on around me. She does dual duty for me Mobility and PTSD. She literally shoved me out of the way of a vehicle she felt was too close to me. Knowing that I would fall . She stood right next to me and helped me get up . Making sure I was out of harms way. We have only been together about 7 months and We are bonding very well she has my back . Yes we still train training is ongoing , no different than learning more about your job. My life is so much better with Erin. Nightmares and flashbacks still come but she lets me know and awakens me or she will literally get in my face to get me to change my focus to her.She may wash my face or hands or grab a toy and get me to play. Each Service Dog reads their Handler, and helps accordingly. I would take a bullet for her and I know she would take one for me .She is my Partner and Buddy, Companion and Gentle Protector. She helps me take my life back. She is big and goofy and I couldn’t ask for a better partner.

  • el November 22, 2013

    could you please clarify what you mean by “emotional support animal” many people are confused by the terms “service dog” & “emotional support animal”. Can you explain the difference between a person with a disability (as fefined by the ADA) who has a service animal & a person with s disability (as defined by the ADA) who perhaps is partnered with a dog because of PTSD?
    These are the types of questions I get all the time, but I want others input on how to explain the difference – if there is one.

    • Kea Grace November 22, 2013

      An “Emotional Support Animal” is a pet who provides companionship and emotional support. “Pet” is the key word there – they’re not Service Dogs and they have no public access under the law, require no specialized training and don’t have to do anything except be a friend. ESAs essentially serve as in-home therapy dogs. An individual with an ESA has distinct rights regarding access to pet-fee free lodging, but doesn’t have any of the access rights granted to full-fledged Service Dog teams. Concerning Service Dog partnership, there is no difference under the ADA between physical, developmental, neurological, mental or other disabilities – per U.S. federal law, all are afforded identical rights to non-discrimination and public access with a trained canine partner. Let us know if you’ve got any other questions – we’d be happy to answer them.

      • Sherry November 23, 2013

        So is a dog used for ptsd a SD? And why can the airlines demand paperwork to prove the dog is a SD?

        • Kea Grace November 24, 2013

          As long as the dog performs trained, specific tasks to mitigate a disability, it’s a Service Dog. Airlines require paperwork for ESAs and some for PSDs. Air travel is governed by a separate law outside of the ADA.

        • Cindy Morgan AS/ade December 13, 2013

          Sherry the airlines are not considered public access, even though they cater to the public they fall under TESA guidelines because of the “Patriot Act” so under TESA they can require paperwork for ALL non visible disabilities and even ask for paperwork if they believe that your dog is not a working dog. Churches are also not considered “public accommodation” and they can refuse any SD entrance, thankfully most don’t.

          • Dustina ILia December 13, 2013

            Hey Cindy…..I find your reply that “Churches are also not considered “Public Accomodation” as a week ago I called a Church up that I had been wanting to attend to let them know that I was blind and had a Guide Dog and wondered if I was allowed to come to their Church with my dog as I had been told that Churches were “Privately Owned”. The responce that I got back was that a Churches doors are open to the Public and for them to deny me access based on me having a Guide Dog that it would be discriminitory and that I was more than welcomed to come there with my Guide Dog… now I am confused.

          • Cindy Morgan December 13, 2013

            Dustina Ilia, I am very confused as well, as I am an ordained Minister in addition to the dog training and would consider a church very public. churches are open to the public, however they fall under a different classification just as airports do. No they are not under TESA, and yes they are more than likely to welcome SDs with open arms, but they are legally one type of business that can refuse SDs admittance.

        • Robert Witmor December 16, 2013

          From my personal experience, they cannot ask for paperwork other than shot and health records for the animal in question. They are just as bound by the Title 2 and Title 3 ADA regulations as any other entity. I however do not argue with them as it is a delay in my flight needs, though in reality they too are not in compliance with the law as I understand it.

          • patti shanaberg December 16, 2013

            I would suggest, in addition to carrying those records even if they are not legally required, also carrying and providing them with a card describing your legal rights and their obligations under the ADA.

      • Cindy Morgan AS/ade December 13, 2013

        To jump in here on the difference between an ESA and a Service dog. As was said an ESA is a PET that its sole purpose is to provide emotional support. Most if not ALL dogs can fit in to that category. ESAs are protected under the Housing and Urban Development Act HUD and TESA however the owner must have a current note/letter from their Dr stating the need. I think that Doctors need a lot of education in this area and can be a great help in stopping fakes from pubic access. On the other hand a Service dog / Assistance dog has been TRAINED to perform specialized tasks to MITIGATE the partner’s disability. “Mitigate the individuals disability” is the optimum term here, For example if I am deaf, legally I cannot call my dog a service dog “for me” if it has been trained to guide the blind, that dog cannot mitigate MY disability and would need to be trained to alert me to sounds before I could legally call it my service dog. ESAs are not protected under the ADA where service / assistance, guide, and hearing dogs are.
        Some may be confused by all the terms used to describe assistance dogs so I will try to explain for those that are.
        All working dogs that assist the disabled protected under the ADA are considered ASSISTANCE DOGS and NOT pets. Presently under that umbrella the dogs are divided into three groups: GUIDE dogs —those that provide guide to blind or visually impaired persons. HEARING dogs that alert individuals that are deaf or profoundly hearing impaired, and finally SERVICE dogs which provide assistance to ALL other individuals that are not blind, visually impaired, deaf or profoundly hearing impaired. Including but not limited to; diabetic assist, medical assist, mobility assist, balance assist, PTSD, and psych dogs.
        ESAs and Therapy dogs (those that visit hospitals and provide comfort, reading programs etc.) do not qualify for public access rights under the ADA and do not fall into the Assistance dog categories these are considered PETS.

      • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

        Thank you! That is absolutely correct, and most people just don’t get that.

  • Monica November 22, 2013

    Dustina, It would be nice if we could have the fact that we use and SD on our medicare cards or something. But one thing is not every SD is trained by a Service dog school. Many are trained by privet trainers and some like my own are trained by their owners. That doesn’t make them any less a Service Dog than a program trained dog. I registered with the USSDR site also. Why because I like what I have read on that site and they don’t sell certification. Yes it is a voluntary registry, and yes some people will use it to gain access with their pets. There is just nothing that can really be done at this time about that.But my point is just because a dog is trained other than by a program or school doesn’t mean it isn’t a Service Dog. I am on dog number 3 now, and it took me 3 years to find her. I washed out two other dogs before I got her. Not every dog is suited for this work. Not every person is capable of training their own dog. But there are some good owner trained dogs out there. I am proud of the dogs I have trained. They have been super.Unfortunately, there will always be rule breakers out there it is just a sad fact.

    • Kea Grace November 22, 2013

      Congrats on finally finding your Service Dog. May you guys have a long and happy partnership. 🙂

      • Monica November 22, 2013

        Thankyou Kea. This is my third dog and I am a lot older now and a lot more disabled. When my second dog retired I was given another puppy, she ended up not working out as she became protective and I rehomed her. The second candidate was a good dog but just went nuts around other dogs wanting to play. I was unable to get him to stop. So again he was rehomed. He was a sweet boy but not what I needed. I had decided not to get another dog as I was so downhearted after these two didn’t make the cut, but my doctor was adamant that I needed another SD. So eventually I did get another puppy.She has worked out.

        • Kea Grace November 22, 2013

          It’s not easy finding the right partner, especially if you’re owner-training. It makes my heart happy to know you were able to know when a dog wasn’t right for you and yet you retained the strength to try again.

          • Buster May 30, 2014

            I’m on my second owner trained DAD, most of us can’t afford the expense of a bucket trained dog at 5000 up to 20,000, it is ludicrous! I have over $1000 in my dog plus about 400 in local training, mostly obedience. That isn’t counting vet bills and food. and she isn’t 2 yet. The pre-trained dogs basically have to be taught to the user’s unique smell anyway so none work right in the beginning. Owner training is the best option for diabetics by far.

            I saw a show on PTSD dogs getting certified in 3 weeks in Fla and given to vets, they even showed their version of a PAT, it was a joke. they walked the dog through a Walmart, around a dog and tied it to a fence for 1 minute while the trainer walked around the corner. If he didn’t bark, he passed! Public Access certified and good to go. I think our vets deserve better than this. What could they possibly teach a dog they rescued from a shelter in 3 weeks to prepare it for life as a SD? very little.

            When I inquired about a PAT, I was told I’d have to drive to another city to take it, the dog had to handle multiple obstacles including dogs, elevators, stairs, crowds. Stay in a “down stay” while I left the room(not tied). be handed off to someone else, etc. She is ready and can do it all, but I’m not driving 130 miles and paying for a test that isn’t required.

  • Deirdre Maxwell November 22, 2013

    I am severely visually impaired and have used guide dogs for over 20 years. My standard answer when someone asks how they can have their pet with them all the time is simple: “All you have to do is give up your ability to see, never drive ever again and never, ever get to know what your children look like.” It’s amazing how that stops the thoughtless comments.

    • Kea Grace November 22, 2013

      Wow. The truth hurts sometimes, and more people need to have the reality of being disabled brought to their attention.

    • Lenna Hanna-O'Neill (@motleydragon) November 23, 2013

      You sound like me. I just smile sweetly and say, “It’s really easy. Just be in a terrible accident that leaves you crippled and unable to function in public without a partner to counterbalance you so that you don’t fall over and hurt yourself worse. It’s nothing really. All I had to give up was never spending a single moment, waking or not, without being in pain, never riding my horses again, never kneeling to tend my lovely garden again, never being able to run or play hop scotch with my kids or grandkids, and never being able to dance or share intimacy with my husband without excruciating pain. It’s not much to give up in order to be able to take your dog everywhere with you.” Usually shuts them right up.

      • Deirdre Maxwell November 23, 2013

        Maybe we should be figuring out a way to publicize the reason a person uses a dog- i.e., disability. The big schools (GDB, CCI, etc) all use cute puppies for advertising and only vaguely allude to the person who will eventually get the dog. And so many news-ish items talk about the wonder-dog and show the flashy tasks (opening fridges, etc) and ignore the disabled person. Maybe we need to make the public more aware of the boring and banal things dogs do for us that makes independent living doable. As an example, for me just crossing the street safely is a huge victory.

      • DM89 December 2, 2013

        That’s kind of a really rude response. As the article states a lot of people want their dog to be a service dog just so they can have them with them. Not so they can make light of your physical issues. A better way to respond would be, “Trust me, you don’t want this. You have to lose irreplaceable things and it isn’t worth being able to take your dog into a diner. Though it would be nice if people could bring their regular dogs with them into places, you have to understand there’s a reason why you can’t, and more importantly, a reason why I can.”

        • Deirdre Maxwell December 6, 2013

          No, not rude at all. Rude is being so completely thoughtless of others’ disabilities that you play “dress-up like the disabled person” so you can take your untrained pet everywhere with you. I don’t like being mocked (even unintentionally) by someone who can’t follow the law. Rude is being so clueless that there is no understanding of a service dog’s function and any pet can do the same. These people already know why their pets aren’t service dogs, they choose to ignore the law and any vestige of good manners.

          • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

            Exactly, Dierdre. I have found that the people who think it’s rude, don’t have a clue.

          • Roymond November 14, 2015

            I’m a LITTLE less brazen about it: I just ask if they qualify for the disabled tax credit from the IRS. If they say no, then I tell them that for their dog to be a service dog, they have to give it away to someone who does qualify.

        • Dustina ILia December 13, 2013

          I know as a blind person with a Guide Dog that it does get rather exausting listening to people talk about how they wish they could take their dog everywhere. I know that they love their animals but I feel that it is a very rude and ignorant remark made on their part. There is a lady where I live at who registered her dog as a service dog and made a cape for her Yorkie and bought that patches so that she could get out of paying the pet deposite and so she could have and take her dog with her everywhere. The dog is a barkie dog and out of control. Doesn’t know any commands and pees all in the apartment as well. She keeps the dog tied up in the house because she cannot control it and it gets into everything and then darts out the door when it is opened. I am the only person where I live at with a Guide Dog or Service Dog and feel that this lady is giving a bad reputation to Service Dogs that are trained to help. My Div. of Service for the Blind caseworker actually had to go and talke to the management here to let her know that she could not keep me from having my Guide Dog as she doesn’t even like dogs and would be happy if none of them were here and had origionally told me that I couldn’t have my Guide Dog (I went away for a month to be trained with him from a Guide Dog School) because he didn’t meet the height & weight requirements to be here. So now I have him here with me and everyone wants to get their dog registered to get out of paying the pet deposit. I keep wondering if I should report that lady for not having a legit service dog or if time will take care of it. Hum!

          • Amanda H February 16, 2014

            Unfortunantly, in most states, there are no legal ramifications for faking a SD. I think this needs to change, and I would consider reporting the woman IF and ONLY IF you have proof that its not a SD. You don’t want the complex to give all future SD a hard time. Just like the last point of this article says, its a delicate balance.

        • patti shanaberg January 19, 2015

          I agree DM89. While being impatient with ignorance is understandable it certainly isn’t the most compassionate or productive way to respond. I’m hearing a lot of negativity projected onto albeit ignorant but relatively harmless comments. It’s one thing to respond sarcastically in a moment of impatience and overload, quite another to justify it as productive or advise others that it’s a good idea. I think that kind of sarcasm says more about the person resorting to the sarcasm than it says about the person making an ignorant comment.

    • Abby December 14, 2013

      Really nicely put.

    • barry petitpas March 22, 2015

      That simply is not true. You can have a sevice dog for all kinds of emotional, mental and health reasons. The use of service dogs is growing by leaps and bounds and the regulations are not enforced leading to more and more problems.

      • Deirdre Maxwell March 23, 2015

        Well, no duh, obviously there are all kinds of service dogs. i didn’t say that guides were the only type of SD. I don’t happen to have all kinds of disabilities, though. The point of the above point was to squelch the desire of John Q Public from pretending Fluffy is an SD, not to describe all types of service dog And that having a service dog has a high price in terms of losing a major life function

  • Lola November 22, 2013

    Great article, but one thing. Under #2… our dogs don’t have any rights (legally, they are very expensive pieces of medical equipment); it is the disabled handler that has the rights.

    • Kea Grace November 22, 2013

      Spot on. It’s the disabled individual who’s assured access and the right to not be discriminated against. The Service Dog is just along for the ride.

  • Mary Frances November 22, 2013

    As an airline crew member, passengers avoiding the fee to travel their pet in the cabin or in the belly of the aircraft have become quite an issue for us. When we do have actual service dogs on – their training is apparent. A well behaved dog (or any animal for the most part) is admittedly my favorite passenger. But we have had incidents where dogs obviously not trained or prepared to travel in public have presented challenges to service dogs and their handlers. It is not right, it is offensive and consequential as it seems now- only to the dogs. It is time that something be done to protect the legitimate handlers and the service dogs who serve them and call out posers who put them at risk.

  • DEBRA WOLCOTT November 23, 2013

    I am a 100% Disabled Vet for PTSD I have been out of the Military for 37 years and have been on every med. the VA has to offer. This did nothing for me I was a hostage in my own home I wouldn’t go out alone. On October 25 of this year I graduated with my service dog Ready from This Able Veteran in Illinois. It has given me a new life so for the fakes if you want a service dog I for one would love to trade places with you those 37 years were HE’LL ON EARTH MOST DAYS. On the night of October 25th I was told Welcome Home and it’s the first time since stepping foot out of the military that I feel like I got a shot at being home. Anybody want to trade places so they can have a service dog???

    • Robert Witmor December 16, 2013

      I have to agree with you Debra. Until my return from my heart transplant and graduation from service dog training, I had never felt like I belonged back in society, I have also been diagnosed with PTSD, but that is not what my 100% disability was for, it is from defoliants used in Vietnam, (otherwise referred to as Agent Orange), and neither cases are publicly visible. Even with my service dog however, i have been harassed by too many establishments that have demanded I show them a license, identification, and so on in order for them to accept Cissi (SD) and I into the establishments. I even today hear how I do not look or act disabled and so I must be scamming the system. I carry ID, Certifications, Medical Records and ussdr id’s etc but only for my convenience. I even was harassed by the Hospital Security in the VA hospital where I have to go for multiple treatments. They told me that as they werer a part of the federal government they did not have to comply with ADA regulations. I understand everyone’s frustrations as well as personally know yours. I really have to say that fake service dog owners have created havoc in my public accessibility. But even with all of these difficulties, I have to say that I am much more secure with Cissi. I am sure all of us have our service animals to thank for allowing us to have a semblance of an active life. But I would never in a heartbeat, (no pun intended), wish any of this on another person.

  • Service Doog Blue Djinn CGC November 23, 2013

    What is it like to have a service dog?

    The city of Glendale AZ has taken my right of access from me to a public public park under the threat of a huge fine and/or going to jail.I was cited and agreed not to use the water feature and other parts of the park with my service dog. I did this to avoid jail. I have been discriminated against, my civil rights violated in a major manner that exacerbated my disability all because I refused to remove my service dog from a public place plainly posted as accessible for service dogs. Furthermore the city plainly does not believe me when I said I was disabled and and has put it in writing. the very first contact with the city a park staffer asked me to remove my dog from the water park and I refused stating I was disabled, and service dogs are allowed. What I got from this as escalated in to a complaint against the city. The state AGs ffice has filled a complaint and I have asked the city to mediate next week. Arrogant city attorneys do not listen, they willing violate your rights and don’t even realize when they are in a no-win situation.

    • Kea Grace November 24, 2013

      Wow. Djinn, we’re sorry to hear that. We know a SD trainer and advocate in your local area who may be able to help – please send us an email.

  • Dustina ILia November 24, 2013

    Okay, so what I am wondering is what are the qualifications of an individual who trains their own SD. Not trying to be scarscastic here but am curious. If emotional support dogs don’t have to be anything but pets, maybe at should be a requirement that the dog passes a Certified Obedience Class with a professional trainer so that the dog would be well behaved and society would have less of a problem with that person bringing the dog out into society and to places a dog is not normally allowed. I know Petsmart provides Obedience Training for about $40 or something like that by professional certified trainers. If a dog has completed that Obedience Training and the person had a note from a Dr. stating that this dog is needed as an emotional support dog for whatever….then that dog should be recognized as a true Service Dog that will be well behaved and allowed wherever the handler needs to go. It is a medically well known fact that animals reduce a person’s blood pressure as well as anxiety and that’s why they allow them into Hospice and certain Hospitals. I don’t see why a dog who is used for any medical reason (blind, hearing, seizure, PTSD, emotional support, etc.) should be denighed access anywhere as long as the animal is well behaved and has completed an Obedience Course so his behavior is not in question and a Dr. signs off that the patient is better with the dog than he is without. Why is there discrimination amongst disabilities as long as the dog meets the criteria and behavior certification? Personally, I think that all dogs need obedience training as a dog likes stability, discipline and structure not to mention you have a well behaved dog in your home.
    Djinn, how was a public park able to tell you that you had to remove your SD? Is that not in violation of the ADA quidelines? I don’t understand a whole lot about SD’s used for ESD, PTSD, seizures, or whatever because my disability is visual (being blind) and I am very familiar with the ADA laws regarding those types of dogs but I don’t understand if a dog is used for a documentd medical issue, how it can be denighed access anywhere as long as it is well trained and well behaved.

    • Cindy morgan November 24, 2013

      Dustina ILia
      To answer your question on what the qualifications of an individual who trains their own service dog is, is that it’s the same as a dog trained by an organization. Most people that train their own dogs for service dogs look to Assistance Dog International (ADI) for qualifications and standards for service dogs. if you’d like to see what those standards are look them up on the ADI website. I found that most owner trainers that train their dogs to be legitimate service dogs go to great links to make sure that their dogs behave in public better than most program trained dogs. Most of them are way above board when even considering getting a dog to train for service dog work. I am the owner and head trainer of an assistance dog organization that helps private owners train their own dogs for assistance dog work. 85% of the training that we do with our clients is public access work basic obedience and task training is secondary, in that way our dogs are truly an unobtrusive helpmate. I do not train dogs for the blind as there are specific guidelines that guide dog schools adhere to and specific laws that they must adhere to, so I leave that training to the guide dog professionals. I hope this helps answer your question.
      Monica, please see my earlier post on my idea of how to tag legitimate service dogs whether they be program trained or owner training.

      • Dustina ILia November 25, 2013

        Thanks Cindy for that information. So you say you are the owner and head trainer of an assistance dog organization that helps “Private Owers” train their own dogs for assistance dog work then I guess that means that you are certified and licensed….right? So therefore you could sign off to the legitimacy of that trained service dog and that it has passed his social and obedience skills test. So that is what I am trying to say is that if a dog has been trained (whether by an organization or an individual) and can pass the social and obedience skills test and that person also has Medical Documentation that they are indeed disabled and that the Service Dog meets the requirements….why should any SD not be allowed publically to go wherever it’s owner goes, even if it is an emotional support dog or whatever? I think they should have the same rights as those that use SD for other medical issues provided the animal has good social skills and obedience skills.

        • Deirdre Maxwell November 25, 2013

          Other than in California for guide dog trainers, there is no legal requirement for certification or licensing for service dog trainers.

          • Cindy Morgan November 25, 2013

            There are standards that trainers go by through the Assistance Dogs International, and one can earn an Associates of Science degree in Assistance dog Education through Bergen University of canine studies in Northern California, in which I have such a degree. Yes anyone can hang a shingle claiming to be an assistance dog trainer, so as with anything else it is buyer beware! Do your homework, choose an instructor that is credible and can back up what they say with their training credentials.

          • windchyme July 30, 2014

            Until recently there weren’t hardly any schools TO go to where you could learn to train dogs period. Back when I was coming up as a trainer, a trainer proved they knew their business by competing and showing what they could do in the ring or in their area of specialization, they might write a book….they might take on a person or two and train them how. I came up in the time of Barbera Woodhouse and began training for pay at 15 years old. Service dog trainers were people with skills that were hired by service dog schools and learned on the job under the more experienced trainers who turned around and taught the new guys that came after them. If you lacked the skills you had to go.That is the world I became a trainer in.

            I’m not so sure I like the whole idea of a school to train someone to train dogs. Just because you know the mechanics doesn’t mean you have what it takes to be a good trainer- theres a gut instinct that goes on with good trainers that you cant buy or teach. I think the better way was the old way. If you had what it took you succeeded, if you didn’t you didn’t do as well. A piece of paper really doesn’t mean a whole lot. Not to say that some of the people who go to these schools aren’t already gifted in that way…in that case they’d do well regardless of a piece of paper and maybe only needed the paper for the confidence to call a spade a spade…they’re good at this thing, good enough to help others do it and start doing just that.

            But hey, that’s just my opinion.

        • Cindy Morgan November 25, 2013

          Yes I am certified to train Service Dogs and owners that wish to train their own dogs for Service Dogs. However there is a lot more to it than that. Each person that comes into my program with a dog must go through a rigorous screening process to see if their dog has the temperament for service dog work. If that dog passes my evaluation then we go through a 36 week training process in which the owner and the dog is tested every 12 weeks before going on to the next 12 weeks. At the conclusion of the program each team is tested in three areas, The first area is the assistance dogs international public access test, and a written final covering all of the material presented to the client over the past 36 weeks, and the client must pass. The second area is A skills test for both trainer and dog encompassing three tasks the dog has been trained to perform and both dog and owner must pass. The third area is a test to see how well the dog and owner works as a team in real life situations. All tests are given by a group of trainers and/or volunteers. If the team passes all three of these finals they will then receive a certification from my organization stating that they are a working service dog team.
          Go into your other statement; There is only one problem with the statement you made for emotional support dogs. under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) all service dogs must be able to perform a trained task to mitigate their owners disability, therefore under this clause emotional support dogs do not qualify as they are not “trained” to mitigate a specific need. An emotional support dogs’ total function is to be there to provide emotional support and that is not a trained task. This is the sole reason why they were removed from the revision of the ADA laws that Took Place March 2011. Any person with a disability that has a dog that can pass a public access test and can perform a trained task to mitigate The disability for that individual can be considered a service dog under the Americans with disabilities act. However emotional support dogs do fall under the housing and urban development act (HUD) and only with a doctors letter can be admitted into no pet housing under HUD rules. I hope this clarifies some things.

          • patti shanaberg December 14, 2013

            “Any person with a disability that has a dog that can pass a public access test and can perform a trained task to mitigate The disability for that individual can be considered a service dog under the Americans with disabilities act.” ??? – there is no “public access test” required for service dogs to pass in order to be protected under the ADA. It’s very important to differentiate opinion from fact.

        • Jim December 12, 2013

          Cindy, I really wish Bergen U had an online program for all classes that didn’t require physical participation. I really want to complete their degree program, but there would be no way I could afford to leave my current job just to go to school for a year.
          The best I have around here are pre-vet programs, or wildlife studies. 🙁

          Outside of that, all I have are years of experience, number of dogs I’ve trained, and references… which doesn’t align with the ADI requirements for training programs. The best I can do is offer my potential clients the assurance that I follow the ADI guidelines.

          It’s a shame, really, that people who are dedicated to doing this have such limitations to entry into providing a legitimized service.

          • Cindy Morgan AS/ade December 13, 2013

            Jim, go and look on the ADI website and look at their qualifications for trainers. it is very tuff to get accredited but you do not need a Bergin degree to get in. they have guidelines and standards listed, and they will need to come and test your organization at your expense but it is doable. you can look at my website triple m assistance dogs for my email and PM me for any other info on this topic. thanks

          • Jim December 13, 2013

            Thanks Cindy!
            I have gone over their requirements thoroughly, and unfortunately do not have the resources to complete what they want done; maybe in a few years it’ll be possible. My ‘organization’ is just me, and any expenses come out of my pocket to train dogs at low cost, or free. Who knows… maybe I can associate myself with an accredited organization, and continue working in my geographic area. 🙂

        • Cindy Morgan AS/ade December 13, 2013

          Dustina ILia, the answer to your question is a two parter. first Yes an owner trained SD that could pass a public access test and task test can and should be abled to accompany their disabled partner in all places of public accommodation.
          Part two, if the dogs ONLY “TASK” is emotional support, that will remove them from the protection of the ADA because one does not train a dog to provide emotional support, ALL dogs could do that. a SD must be “trained” to preform a specific task or work to mitigate the individuals disability. for example, dogs trained for PTSD are trained to check out the living quarters, turn on lights, move their partner to a safe place, and many other tasks. the primary thing is the training, they are trained, they don’t just do it. Now some DADs (diabetic assist dog) can sense their partners low BG levels without training and in that case the dog would NOT be considered an SD under the ADA. inorder for the dog to qualify under ADA law the dog must be trained to preform a distinct alert, and possibly get the partners kit or something for the human to bring the BG up, or to go find help. Now that the dog is “trained to mitigate the diabetic’s needs” it can be considered a SD under the ADA. if one is ever brought into court they need to be able to demonstrate a “Trained” task or work. I always instruct my owner trained clients to keep a log of their training hours and places that they train so if they were ever to be brought into question they have a documented answer. hope this helps

        • Amanda H February 16, 2014

          Emotional Support Dogs (ESD) don’t have that training, and obedience isn’t a reason to be allowed anywhere. The dog has to do something other than being a companion.They also have to do things that obedience classes don’t teach like not going to the bathroom (no matter what) while working, ignoring being petted, stepped on, or jumped on by another dog. They are specifically trained with these tasks like, sensing panic attacks, forcing their owner to leave a situation, getting medication, etc. ESD’s are not trained anywhere close to the amount service dogs are, they don’t need any training at all. If you want them to be trained, thats fine, but a well behaved dog isn’t a SD.

          • Cindy morgan February 16, 2014

            Amanda you are very rite. ESD are considered pets and TRAINED assistance dogs, that are trained to do tasks related to the person’s disability, are NOT pets they are considered “durable medical equipment” and are nesessarry to assist the person thas has been deamed DISABLED, either by federal regulations, state regulation, and definitely by their doctor. All of you must remember that the dog has no rights it’s the disabled individual that has the rights. And people with emotional issues are not considered disabled under the Americans with disability act, therefore do not have the right to take a dog in public no matter how trained they are. Now housing and air travel are a different story, emotional support dogs are allowed in housing with a doctors letter and also allowed to travel by plane was also a doctors letter.

        • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

          The ADA specifically states the Emotional Support dogs are NOT service dogs. There IS a difference. That is sort of like saying because your knee hurts occasionally, you should be allowed a handicapped placard for parking. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s either a SD that is trained for SPECIFIC tasks, or a Emotional Support dog. From the ADA regs: Service animals are defined 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 animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

          This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

          Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.

          • patti shanaberg January 19, 2015

            There is no requirement under the ADA that a service dog be trained by a “certified and licensed” trainer.

    • Buster May 30, 2014

      You can’t put a dog through a short 5-6 weeks class with other dogs and expect it to be ready for public work or pass any true test.
      I have my dog listed with Sugar Dogs and they insist on 18-24 weeks of obedience school minimum, PLUS logs of additional training and alerting. I’ve seen total terrors go through an obedience course and learn almost nothing in 6-8 weeks but with your method they are full Service Dogs? I don’t think so.

      • windchyme July 30, 2014

        I agree with you Buster. When I was living in town with an easily accessible obedience class I’d run my puppy through one whole summer of continuous classes back to back. It’s good for socialization, working under distraction, socializing with strange dogs and people and a bunch of other stuff. And my pups go in at 4 months knowing all their basic obedience though they are sloppy while doing it and not used to alot of distractions. All that while they are out in public and learning tasks. I might put in 15-20 hours a week on training/socialization/public access experience/task training for the first year.

  • Ky G November 24, 2013

    Ditto here in being denied access_except it was an ER at_and I will name it here_Swedish Covenant Hospital on California avenue, Chicago, IL on August 31st, 2013. Despite my calls nothing has been done. Of note: I did ask if there were surgical procedures being preformed in the ER and the answer was no.
    I have also had women scream at me from 10 feet away (store employees) to remove my dog when clearly vested. This puts myself and my SD on high alert_not something either of us need. After several incidents at Jewel Osco I simply sat on the floor and called 911 and let them straighten it out. I also did this in a local store when they reused to permit me access. I am so tired of the questions, explaining of the laws, the education process (lack of to employees by employers) to the point where I have become agitated. The local PD did not have all the laws as well. I contact4d them after the first 911 call and explained and directed to them the laws, etc. I answered al their questions for their future reference. I found it heartwarming that the first responder for the ER issue were well aware and accommodating of law as well as the ambulance_but the failure to of institutions and businesses to educate is appalling. I was asked to leave my SD at home when scheduled for an IEP meeting for my son when i entered the door. I gave him (security)my card. He stated the “principle did not want the dog in the school”. I told him to call the police or the DOJ if they had any questions, signed in and walked away. I swear they vexed me every time i walked in that door. To top it off, the school kids literally SCREAMED and jumped out of the way lie it was some sort of game to them. One jerk kicked him from behind and the fan away into the crowd. There is no shortage of ignorance or education. I used to help educate but I am no longer will and simply call 911 or the corporate offices and file complaints. I did educate the north town bus service when busses repeatedly pulled away and it was on camera (theirs) and they have since had an inservice and education_that relieved much 🙂

    • patti shanaberg December 14, 2013

      Good for you! You have saved many people behind you of that humiliation! It IS worth it!

    • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

      911 is for EMERGENCIES. My husband has a service dog, and I feel for you, but as a first responder, (Paramedic), please respect the fact that 911 is for, again, EMERGENCIES. This is NOT an emergency. Please respect that.

      • Roymond November 15, 2015

        That depends on the disability in play. In my case, store employees screaming at me about my dog could well be a medical emergency, because the continual verbal assault could trigger a severe anxiety or panic attack while preventing my dog from being able to do his job. If I felt the need to dial 911 in such a situation I would state that my service dog and I were being assaulted and I needed help immediately.

        Another individual near here with a service dog called 911 once and the police came and required the employees harassing him to get out of sight and sound immediately or face arrest. When one demanded to know “For what?”, an officer told her assault, harassment, creating a public disturbance, abuse of a disabled person… before he said any more she was gone.
        After, he filed a complaint with the DoJ, and his attorney filed a parallel suit plus a brief with the DoJ arguing that each employee involved constituted a separate violation and the manager not stopping it constituted another. The private suit asked for damages equal to whatever fine the DoJ imposed plus another $50k for pain and suffering. Faced with a possible total of nearly a half million to pay out, the store settled for sending all its employees to ADA training, paying the employees for that time and paying for the training, and $5k to the disabled individual.

        IMO, when a store is not only ignoring the law but harassing a disabled person, whatever you can legally smack them with is legitimate.

  • Tony December 14, 2013

    In recent years the problem has exploded with the proliferation of fake service dogs. There is no shortage of scam websites with official sounding names willing to charge up to hundreds of dollars to “register your pet as a service dog”. Every one of these websites, without exception, is a scam.

    The people who purchase these fake credentials undermine and cause difficulties to those with disabilities who have real, extensively trained dogs that are rightfully allowed to accompany the person they are trained to assist.

    In California, it is a crime to fraudulently represent a dog as a service dog.

    If some these whiny, self centered egomaniacs start getting prosecuted, maybe it will stop.

  • patti shanaberg December 14, 2013

    This is a great article. Service dog “fakes” are certainly a problem. But I’m also a bit concerned with people in the service dog industry defining and often misrepresenting what a service dog “should” and “should not” do beyond what is legally required. While I understand that the law is wide open to interpretation and abuse, and that does present problems, there are certain “shoulds” and “should nots” listed here that give people the impression that if they see someone with a service dog engaging in certain “should not” behaviors, or not engaging in certain “should” behaviors that it is not a legitimate service dog. This is untrue, and opens those handlers up to unwarrented scrutiny and criticism. For instance, there are a wide variety of services dogs provide for people with disabilities that are not hampered by the handler allowing their dog to be mannerly social at times. Certainly not jumping up or licking people or any other “out of control of the handler” behaviors but if someone asks if they can pet the dog it is the handlers right to allow mannerly interaction or not. To say that legitimate service dogs should never interact with anyone other than the handler is a misrepresentation of the facts. Some shouldn’t and some are open to handler discretion. Handler discretion should be respected in many instances. Some service dogs even volunteer as registered Pet Partners therapy dogs with their handlers. It is important to be very clear about the difference between opinion and law.

    • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

      The ADA regs clearly spell out what a service dog can and cannot do. This article is just stating that.

      • patti shanaberg January 19, 2015

        I was referring mostly to the comments rather than the article. Many of the comments especially go far beyond what is required by the ADA. I’ve heard a lot of harsh judgement for those who do not meet certain levels of training that are not required by the ADA.

      • patti shanaberg January 19, 2015

        Although, as previously stated, I was referring more to the comments than the article itself there is some information provided in the article likely to support those judgements – such as “4 ] Service Dogs Undergo Hundreds, If Not Thousands, of Hours of Specialized Training” This is not necessarily true. Some do some don’t. They must be trained to perform a specific task for someone with a disability but no proof of any training is required and there is no set amount of hours of training required. What constitutes “specialized training” can mean many different things to many different people and many of the comments have a much more rigid definition of that training than is required by the ADA.

  • Melissa Thomas December 20, 2013

    My dog is a Psychiatric service dog and can go anywhere with me. Why is that and some of the emotional ones can’t?

    • Kea Grace December 22, 2013

      Under the law, Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs are different. PSDs receive public access as Service Dogs, but ESAs are simply pets who are allowed access to housing with their handler. They have NO public access as they are not Service Dogs.

  • mariapalestina January 13, 2014

    I have a friend who is so obsessed with her dog she got a note from her doctor saying she was prone to “panic attacks” so she could take the dog, free of charge, on airplanes, to hotels, to restaurants, to the movies, inside grocery stores, and just about anywhere she liked. She got her dog a vest on the internet. She gets to check in at first class when she flies, and her dog can sit on her lap on board the plane. She has no certificate, and so far as I know nobody has ever asked her for one. The other day I saw a woman with a large dog wearing a “therepy dog” vest. I know therapy dogs aren’t service dogs, but nobody seems to even ask questions any more. I am finding all of this very frustrating (I am 80 years old and deaf and my dog isn’t a service dog so I can’t take her with me except for a walk.)

  • meg august February 10, 2014

    I was recently on a flight from Chicago to my home city a early morning flight. Sadly there was a fake service dog on that flight. I had bought some mcdonalds and had it stowed under the seat infront of me. The person next next to me tapped me on the shoulder saying, “You know a dog is getting into your bag.” I looked down the “service dog” was trying to get at my hot cakes (thankfuly there was a covering). This same service dog was trying to jump into people’s laps. I am a dog lover but a strange dog climbing into my lap is not something i want. When i told the owner to watch her dog she said it was, “A service dog. Don’t worry.” Its a shame that people take advantage of the system so Fluffy can go with them.

    • Sherry-Lynn Sharp March 27, 2014

      I would have replied with something like “If that is a service dog, its a poorly trained one. Properly trained Service dogs would not Jump into people laps… So.. maybe get her some more training!”

      • windchyme July 30, 2014

        Properly trained service dogs sometimes DO jump into people’s laps….just not OTHER people’s laps.

        • Busterbnutz September 11, 2014

          I agree, if my dog suspects I’m on a high or low BS or getting borderline and I am sitting, she will sit and put both paws on my leg and if I say up-check she will put her paws on my shoulders to smell my breath. If she was right I get a lick on the face on high then a sit and a leg tap. If its nothing then she does nothing.

    • Kim July 13, 2014

      This is where the problem arises while I respect and have personally worked to locate service dogs and my cousin trained service dogs there is a lack of respect for the people who are allergic to dogs. After a severe illness that damaged my lungs i developed asthma and any thing I’m allergic to now causes asthma attacks. My boyfriend is similarly allergic to dogs and has been hospitalized due to his allergies. A dog on a plane could be a huge threat to our safety and no one considers that. I want people to have service dogs and use them when needed. But companion dogs and such are not service dogs and they put others at risk. Faking service dogs status is a huge issue and happens all the time. I managed a hotel and people did it on a weekly basis. I know a true service dog when I see it and it’s behavior. While I respect the struggle people go through with their disability it’s wrong that I have to leAve a restaurant or grocery store because someone comes in with a dog. Especially when it’s not a service dog. Los Angeles is bad about people taking their dogs every where even in places it’s not allowed.

      • woohoo August 4, 2014

        Is there anything that would help you if you encountered a service dog? Medication you could carry or a mask?

        • CA February 27, 2015

          I love dogs, but am allergic and have had a life threatening asthma attack due to being trapped in a plane with a dog. Please tell me how I can graciously deal with this situation. Not traveling is not an option in my case. The issue of fakes has skyrocketed in the last couple years, so it’s problem for those who must have their SD, as well as those who are allergic. I know I have zero rights under the law as it is written.

          • bob levin March 3, 2015

            Sit in the far end from the dog and wear a mask to breathe through. Maybe there is a phil you can take. I have a sd and i always cooperate with problems like yours. It’s nut jobs that i don’t like. You know i’m afraid of animals idiot people, they should be put off the plane even if it’s already airbourne.

          • patti shanaberg March 3, 2015

            I think considerably more sensitivity and respect than that is called for in relation to people who are afraid of animals. While traveling with a service dog is the law it is still also a privilege and the fact that it does at times inconvenience others should be appreciated. Fear of animals are very real for some people – as are allergies . If someone had a snake on a plane I would be very uncomfortable no matter why it was there and some people feel the same about dogs. They are forced by law to have to tolerate something very uncomfortable for them and they deserve respect and compassion.

  • Trish Whitehouse February 23, 2014

    I have a sincere question. I have owned and trained dogs for many years, but they have all been pets. I tried to work with our last pup to raise him as a service dog for my disabled son, but it was apparent after about 6 months that he didn’t have the right temperament. He’s a great pet, but too shy, and right there is enough of a reason not to continue training him as a service dog, so I didn’t. We now have a new puppy and I am once again trying to raise him with the service goal in mind. He’s still young, only 3 months, but I’m socializing him any way I can, which is how I wound up on this site. Next step will be puppy classes and then basic obedience, and on to specific work after that, God willing, if he proves to have the right temperament.

    My question, after reading all these wonderful comments and thoughtful discussions, is this: will this pup be considered a service dog? My son was born with a complex congenital heart defect, gets very short of breath on exertion (and sometimes without) and he is hearing impaired, wears bilateral hearing aids (his hearing is so-so since he is aided). He has many learning disabilities, and is very unaware of his surrounds sometimes, probably due to his hearing loss and slow processing speed. He falls a lot, is the kind of kid who will trip over his own feet, and when he takes his hearing aids off at night, he’s pretty much deaf, especially if his “bad” ear is the one up toward the air.

    My hope is that with the help of the excellent trainers I’ve used in the past, I can teach this dog to wake my son up if there is ever an emergency at night and he can’t hear it (fire alarm, that kind of thing), and that he can bark for my son if he ever gets into trouble (he has a paralyzed vocal cord and he can’t yell…sometimes I have a hard time hearing him even if he’s right next to me). Most of the time I am my son’s “service dog” because we are rarely separated except when he’s in school. But if my son can ever learn to drive (he is now 14), he needs someone with him- for the vocal issues alone- and I thought maybe a service dog could be that “someone”. I get scared thinking of my son just trying to cross the street without me.

    Does that still make him a service dog? Because my son is a totally different person, confident and self- assured- when he’s got his dog with him. I just want to make sure I’m not one of these “fakes”.

    Thank you. I give you people who are disabled all the credit in the world. I only wish there were a reason I wasn’t on here asking this question…I’d give up my pup’s training in a second if my son were “normal”.

    • cindy morgan February 24, 2014

      Trish…I am an assistance dog trainer and I would love to help you with your question can you contact me through my web site…….thanks

  • Carrie June 5, 2014

    Dogs are not the only service animals. I have trained therapy dogs for the past 14 years, to work in daycare facilites, nursing homes and hospitals. I now train and work with cats to be not only ESA’s but also service animals for people with Autism, breathing disorders, mental disabilities, and/or diabetes. Not all disabilities are visible, and not everyone can handle having a dog.

    While cats (monkeys and donkeys) are less common, they are still used in service capacities.

    As people become more aware of mental health issues, Service and support animals are becoming more and more accepted.

    I have an ESD that helps me when I fall down, but while he does have the temperament to assist me, he does not have the temperament to be a public access service dog.

    • Deirdre Maxwell June 5, 2014

      With the revision of the ADA last year, only dogs and, very rarely and under limited circumstances, miniature horses are recognized as service animals. Cats are not recognized as service animals but can be emotional support animals

  • Dianne Vanloon June 28, 2014

    Why is there no law REQUIRING all Service Dogs be registered in some way that is noticeable? To get a Motor Vehicle Handicapped Placard, you must register with your local DMV and they then issue the placard, that comes with a VERY stiff fine for fraudulent use. I am appalled at how many people I see daily that have fake Service Dogs. Some you can tell by the way they act or mis-behave, others because the owner will tell you all about how it’s not really a Service Dog! (They are actually proud of it) A real Service Dog is trained to not engage, so a fake Service Dog could possible injure not only the real Service Dog, but also the person who needs the SD. We really need to take some action to stop this fraudulent practice. I know I wouldn’t mind having to register & in some way tag my SD. What can we do to start implementing this?

    • Deirdre Maxwell June 30, 2014

      Who do you suggest administrate some kind of service dog permit/licensing program? DMV? Yes, they hand out handicap parking permits but they don’t determine who is qualified or not. What would be the qualifications of those who determine whether a dog is or is not a service dog? Are they doctors to determine disability but know nothing about dogs? Dog trainers who know nothing about the medical ramifications of disabilities? Or government bureaucratic functionaries who know nothing about either but get to make decisions that impact one’s life greatly? What about privacy concerns? Do we want another government agency to keep our medical records? How would this be funded? Public? That means more taxes. Self-funded by those seeking service dog permits? That would be insanely expensive. So far, no one has come up with satisfactory answers for these questions.

    • woohoo August 4, 2014

      Your example, though well intended, is not the same thing. When someone gets disability plates, they are making a choice to do so. There are choosing to get the forms, take them to the doctor and then voluntarily register. That is so that others that don’t have the plates or placards can be ticketed. It is a huge hassle, by the way.

      When a person uses a service dog, they are using a medical piece of equipment. For some this goes beyond choice, although for others it could still be considered a choice – although an SD may improve their quality of life.. Imagine if you needed a wheelchair or crutches that you couldn’t use them until you got the form from the government, forwarded it to your physician, the physician filled it out, then returned it, then you waited for the “certification.” All this took weeks for me in my state.

      Then almost everywhere you went, you were required to show said certification? The beach, the pool, where ever. Where would you keep it if you wanted to swim at a beach? Where would you keep it if you were at the gym and wanted to use their pool? Would you have to get out of the pool, back on your crutches or wheel chair if questioned and go to the locker room and produce it?

      That certification would become so important – my gosh, you’d have to have it on you all the time. What would you do if something happened to it – your purse was stolen. It was destroyed in the wash? Wait for a replacement, but in the meantime, guess what, you can’t go to the store, the doctors, the gas station, work, a place to eat…anywhere! All because you are required to have that certification on you at all times, every time you stepped into a public place. You wouldn’t be able to go to a library, a museum, etc. No Where!

      And what happens when you go out with friends and it is forgotten or left behind? What if it is misplaced? What if you’re in your yard and a neighbor pulls into the drive – going to Starbucks do you want to come? Then you have to make that huge decision – your id is upstairs in your purse in the bedroom…is it worth going up the steps, through the house, then upstairs, struggling with each step to get the all important ID because you HAVE to have it on you, or do you just have to say, “no thanks, I don’t have my ID on me?” or maybe you’ll ask the friend to go get it for you. How shameful.

      Imagine how fun it would be to show certification over and over if you had no arms? Or limited use of them. Imagine how much fun it would be for someone with PTSD or severe, disabling anxiety to have to do so, to be continually challenged to produce said certification.

      My gosh, how many times have I been asked for my id and have had to dig through my purse for five minutes…what a hassle it would be to produce id everywhere I went! And with a SD, often you’re not just asked at the door, but throughout the place of business. You’re asked to produce papers in the middle of dinner. Now we don’t have to. But if required? People do have to produce ids in some places, police states. It happened in Nazi Germany, for one.

      And by the way, people do fake being on crutches and in wheelchairs, too.

  • BOB June 28, 2014

    My sight impaired and hearing impaired wife has been using a service dog now for almost 19 years. We own the dogs ,our 2nd one, is 3 years old. The breeds of both is Malinois. They are friendly but a little hyper. Last month, in the usa, we flew on delta. Going, no problem, coming back however a idiot that works for the airlines we were flying on, had nothing to do but follow us in the NON busy airport. When a fellow passenger stepped on the lying down dogs paw, the dog let out a yelp. This employee seized the chance to attack us saying sd’s don’t bark and we are scamming. He made us late to board the plane so we lost our bulk head seats. He phoned ahead to our next station to change planes and they jumped on the wagon also. All we did was sit next to the boarding gate. When time to board d the plane this fat S>O>B> yelled at us very loud that we are scammers and the dog should go in cargo I had all i could due to control myself. All the passengers agreed with my wife and me. When we got on the plane the flight attendants told us they are watching us and if there is trouble [there was none] they would land and kick us off the plane. My wife was crying and i was mad as hell. The airline was DELTA. I always take with me MANY doctors letters proving the disability and need of our s.d. Airlines should also give a card allowing proof for our dog so this may not happen again. People like to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. Airlines should give their names not tell passengers we don’t have to give our name or id. Laws are made to protect the bad and punish the good and i for one am sick of it

    • Linda Beghtel January 26, 2015

      I completely feel for you & your wife. I am agoraphobic and cannot travel at this time. Your two Malinois are a bit larger than the usual ‘on airline flight Service Dogs’ but you were mistreated. This link from the DOT shows the Airlines Regulations about Service Dogs: starting at the bottom right corner of the first page to the last page – which shows who to send your complaints to. Also how to complain to the people at the Airlines at the time. Printing out these pages for in your ‘carry on’ might be helpful for the next time, IDs might not matter to them, but their own Regulations should stop them in their tracks.

      • bob levin January 26, 2015

        Dear linda, I only have one 80 lbs Malinois not two. He is very well behaved and quite beautiful. He kisses not bites. I love him and so does my wife

    • Linda March 6, 2015

      Contact They will let you know how to complain and to whom. Give them hell.

  • clifford mcguire June 29, 2014

    hi im clifford mcguire i just go a new dog that i am trying to get trained to repace my old service dog i live in doge county in WI if you can guide me to a school in this area that can help me i would be greatfull i am working on his funtimentals now

  • Wendy June 29, 2014

    I don’t actually feel affronted or personally insulted by people who use fakes as much as I do think they’re nuts for all the reasons laid out in this post. I also think that part of the proof in the pudding is whether or not these people still take their dogs with them when it’s highly inconvenient, as most who have legitimate SDs have to. In addition to all the extra attention and challenges, which often interfere tremendously with one’s day, and for many people do cause a significant amount of added stress and worsening of their symptoms, there is all the advance planning, always carrying around all sorts of supplies, water, etc., dealing with wet and dirty paws in the car when the weather is bad, etc. How do they handle these sorts of situations – all the time, no matter what they are doing (mostly)? Knowing you can leave your dog home any time it’s inconvenient to take him along creates a very different mindset. This isn’t an absolute by any means, since most of us I’m sure leave our dogs home at times, but finding out what these people would do in situations when they just don’t feel like being bothered can certainly at least give a likely clue.

    They may also be setting themselves up for charges of insurance fraud if they are functionally or explicitly holding themselves out as disabled for SD purposes when they are not, yet applying for life, disability, or long-term care insurance without disclosing that alleged disability. Let that insurer find one whiff that they are using a service dog, and I’d be willing to bet that the s*** will hit the fan.

    Requiring any sort of test or documentation would actually result in far fewer people who need or can at least benefit from having a service dog from being qualified to have one. The ADA quite intentionally left this out for this reason. It would also be extremely difficult to administer and to define qualifications.

    Yes, many other countries do have such laws – but they also often have far more strict criteria to qualify to use an SD in the first place.

    In Chile, for example (one of the few I’m really familiar with), people have to be documented by *more than one physician* (including, if memory serves, one appointed by or employed by the government) as disabled by very specific and very limited criteria, and be *totally* disabled – as in unable to work at all – and have thus also qualified for state aid, the equivalent of being approved for SSDI or Medicaid in the US. The dogs also have to come from an internationally-approved training program like ADI (no owner training), and be outfitted in a very particular manner.

    We all know how incredibly expensive getting a program dog usually is, as well as how scarce they are – plus do we really want to set wheels in motion that could easily lead to this sort of huge restriction of who even qualifies, and functionally making it impossible for many very deserving people to even get a dog?

    If you have an owner-trained dog, or you are not 100% disabled, unable to work, and on SSDI and/or Medicaid, how would you feel about being deemed ineligible for this kind of assistance?

    With regard to why airlines can require documentation – but only for psychiatric service dogs and emotional support animals – the reason is that they are not covered under the ADA but under the Air Carrier Access Act, and quite simply, this is what that law says.

    Churches and other religious institutions are exempt from the ADA for spaces and events that are specifically for their congregations only and not the general public, because of the separation of church and state – and simply because that’s what the ADA says. For programs and spaces open to the general public, they do have to be ADA-compliant. That a particular church or synagogue welcomes service animals without question is a matter of their personal preferences and policies, adopted by choice of that particular congregation and its leadership. It is in no way a requirement, and such institutions would be well within their rights to revoke that protection any time they wish.

    Be careful of what you wish for, and beware of potential unintended consequences.

  • Margie July 12, 2014

    I have no personal experience with Service Dogs, although a great-nephew, age 3, has juvenile diabetes. It was a family dog that alerted the parents once in the middle of the night that his blood sugar was extremely high–which I only mention as verification of their helping with invisible disabilities.

    I mainly wanted to mention that in training for a job I started last December, we were told we weren’t to ask for ‘proof’, nor to in any way try to interact with a Service Animal (dog or otherwise), such as talking to them, trying to pet them, et cetera. Only a door greeter, which we didn’t have, or a manager/assistant manager could ask for ‘proof’, if they felt it necessary. I felt this was a good policy, from what I’d learned from the several service dog sights I get info from on Fb…groups such as Paws for Purple Hearts, Helping Paws Inc, Good Dogs Heal, Canine Companions for Independence, and so on. I don’t know if all the employees followed this policy, and unfortunately several members of the public were too curious/nosy. As mentioned by others, the policy also said the Service Animal was to be considered a part of the person…as is a cane, wheelchair, etc. Which brings me to one more thing….it always irks me when very fit individuals, such as teens that run around a store, are later seen playing around with the motorized carts & wheelchairs, making it unavailable to a potentially needy individual. Whether it’s a situation like that, fake ‘Service Animals’ or whatever, so often it’s a minority that make it difficult for ALL that bear any similarity to them.

    Prayers & best wishes for all that need Service Dogs/Animals!! I’m so thankful this avenue of help has been discovered!!!

    • patti shanaberg July 13, 2014

      It’s important to remember the neither “door greeters” no managers of a public facility are allowed to ask for proof either.

  • Rob White July 12, 2014

    I figure being able to take Bruce with me everywhere I need him to go is the sweet reward for the shit sandwich life dealt me with renal failure at 23. Hemodialysis sucks, I can’t work, I can hardly play, but I can train my own service dog and take him everywhere I go. I can also be a good SD team steward and educate the throngs of stupid, self-acclaimed service dog police out there who have no idea I’m disabled because I’m 6′ tall and look fairly normal. There is nothing better than for some moron to say (in baby talk) “oh look at the pretty baby.” If I’m not in the mood, I ignore them and even better, Bruce ignores them too! Training hunting retrievers was fun, and hunting with them was even funner. Now service dogs is the consolation prize for not being able to hunt any more.

    • patti shanaberg July 13, 2014

      What specific task does your service dog perform for you?

    • Busterbnutz September 11, 2014

      I use a standard poodle, 55 pounds and Apricot-red. She stands really tall and when people try to baby talk her I just say “come on killer, lets go”. She wouldn’t hurt a fly but you should see the looks, especially since she is puppy cut and looks like a Labradoodle. I did that one day when a woman and small child were approaching fast, everyone thinks they can pet first and ask later.

  • Rene' July 12, 2014

    These are all Interesting comments. I am the foster parent of a service dog in training. I’ve loved and trained him for one year and next month I will return him for his advanced training. I’ve learned so much from this experience and have the greatest respect for disabled individuals and their working dogs.. I thought taking the dog out to train in public places would be fun, nope. It was often hard and stressful due to comments and reactions from curious people and just navigating with a large dog. Someday I may pass you on the street, I won’t make a fuss over you and your dog. I will just mentally send you my greatest admiration.

    • Busterbnutz September 11, 2014

      We have to practically double our time when we go out, I try to answer questions and be a good steward but there are times I won’t. If you are the third person to stop me on my way to checkout at the grocery and I have ice cream and frozen food then I just say no time and keep going.

  • dawn weasler July 12, 2014

    Your points are good, but most of them are lost to the sound of your axe grinding. You make no effort to be objective, or unbiased. That lessons the the quality of your written work Re-write the article again, this time without all the emotional overlay, That will be a more persuasive written work.

    • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

      Maybe you should read the ADA regs. All the points of this article are covered there.

  • Twogrey July 13, 2014

    I have a dog that is a very well trained therapy and crisis response dog. I clearly understand the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs. Recently, I went to a restaurant and got a table on the outdoor patio. I had my dog in the car, and she could have stayed there for the duration of my meal. However, I asked if the restaurant allowed dogs in the outdoor dining area, and they asked if she was a service dog. I explained that she was not, but that she is a therapy dog and is well trained. The manager said that he then could not deny me access with my dog. I spent probably 10 minutes explaining to him that in fact, he COULD deny access …that I was only asking if the restaurant allowed dogs in their outdoor dining area. They then asked me if I had her vest with me (I did), and said if she wore the vest that she was welcome in the restaurant. So, it’s kind of a twist on the usual discussion.

    • patti shanaberg July 13, 2014

      service dogs are not required to wear a vest. I guess they were worried about what others would think but it’s still reinforcing a misunderstanding – the misunderstanding that SDs are required to wear a vest.

      • Roymond November 15, 2015

        I had a business owner demand that I go back home and get my dog’s uniform. I was tired of the attitude he’d already exhibited in grilling me about Bammer, so I just said, “NO”. He then hollered that he was going to call the police. So I sat down on the window shelf, told him “Good; then I can as them to arrest you for harassment of the mentally ill”.

        Happily his manager had overheard the demand and my response, and intervened. He quietly explained to his boss that I was in the right, and tried to find the information on the business computer. Being helpful, I waved the ADA business info card that the owner had refused to take, and in seconds he was at the right place. The owner read it and stomped off; the manager apologized.

        Next time I was there, I was halfway down the aisle when the owner yelled he’d called the police. I waved at him and kept going. When the police arrived, they saw it was Bammer, told the owner that the only action they could take would be against him for yelling loudly enough to be heard on the street.

        The irony in the matter was brought to my attention by the police: the owner has issues with dogs, but will never, ever admit it. So they have gotten into the habit of asking, for their sake, that all service dogs wear uniforms into that store. If the owner had just told me he had a problem with dogs, I would have happily gotten Bammer’s uniform, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t.

        Another time a store employee, in a different city, was insisting Bammer had to have a uniform and papers both. I was already tired and didn’t have the energy to do anything but stand there as he kept giving all sorts of reasons why he was right. All of a sudden a lady came striding over and stepped between me and the employee. She stared him in the eyes and gave a very firm and thorough lecture on what businesses may and may not do, and what they are required to do, under the A.D.A., asking him if he understood. Then she told him to go get me a glass of cold water — and he did!
        Turned out she had a grandson who’d been injured in Iraq and had a service dog for several different things, which opened her eyes to how hard disabled people can have it, and she’d just gotten tired of seeing people with service dogs treated anything shy of fully respectfully. I asked if she ever encountered fakes… and she proceeded to stiffen my backbone on that issue, to the point that since then I have intervened when a store employee suspected a fake but didn’t know the right questions to ask (once we exposed a fake, once it was a very stressed college girl whose dog had just been harassed in a different store).

  • P E Lemieux July 13, 2014

    As a small motel owner, I do wish that there was a tag or license identifying a dog as a service animal. We are a pet-free motel as many people have allergies to pet dander (and according to my vet, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog). If an animal has been in the room, we have to do a very extensive cleaning which usually takes a couple of days before the room can be rented as a pet-free room..We are very supportive of legitimate service animals and gladly do this for a disabled guest. But we have had a couple of experiences where the guest stated the dog was a service dog and we were not sure it was the case. Once we saw the dog sleeping on the bed while the guest was across the room. Another time the guest left the “service” dog in the room while she went somewhere. The dog was barking, growling and scared our cleaning person half-to-death. We support the rule for free access to all disabled guests with valid service dogs but more & more we see people trying to get away with bringing their pet (and falsely claiming they are a service dog). There are several properties in our town that are pet-friendly yet these people would rather lie and bring them anywhere they want by claiming they are a “service” dog. Guests at our inn have to prove they are over 21 years old by showing their license. Senior citizens, AARP & AAA members all have to show an ID to get their discount. Why is it an invasion of privacy to have an ID for a service dog?

    • patti shanaberg July 13, 2014

      I’m not sure the issue is privacy as much as a matter of who is going to issue the ID and who is going to decide who is qualified to do so?

    • cissy July 14, 2014

      What do you do if a guest becomes drunk or disorderly or is sexually inappropriate with a staff member? What do you do if a child (or adult) damages property? If you have a dog that is being represented as a service dog and that dog is creating a nuisance, you can (and should) ask the party to remove the dog. They can either check out or put the dog in their car, weather permitting. And if they give you a hard time, call the police. There is nothing in the regulations that say that one has to tolerate an ill-behaved or destructive dog. I would find it hard to believe that you’ve never had to deal with problem guests. Or that teens haven’t presented false IDs. The ADA is civil rights legislation and service dogs are considered assistive devices like canes, walkers and wheelchairs. If it is a dog’s behavior that is the issue, deal with it the way you would deal with a person causing a problem. I use a service dog and think one of the most important things service dog users and advocates can do is educate businesses on the rights of businesses with respect to service dogs and the responsibilities of those who use service dogs (or claim their dog is a service dog). That would make things a whole lot better for people with disabilities whose dogs meet ADA guidelines and really discourage people from trying to pass their dogs off as service dogs.

  • Skye-writer July 13, 2014

    Good blog. Very recently the house next door to me was rented out to a woman who insisted her dog was a Service Dog. I did not question her about why she had a service dog, but in the days that followed it became abundantly clear that this dog was either so badly out of practice as to no longer qualify, or had never been trained in the first place. I wanted to point out how harmful her claim is for those who truly do need a SD with them, but again, it wasn’t an appropriate conversation considering I didn’t really know. So I can see why this issue is so important and I have a suggestion that I know will ruffle a lot of feathers. AN ID CARD. Everyone who drives a car must have a license to prove they have the right to do so. One rarely has to show it, but it’s there when needed. Anyone over the legal age but still looking young has probably been asked on numerous occasions to prove their age when purchasing alcohol. One can’t get on a plane without showing ID. Why would it be so hard for the handler of a SD to have a government issued ID that can be produced should there ever be a question. Nothing need be required to explain the disability, nor would the animal have to “perform” just the ID. At the same time the law should be amended to make it at the very least a very expensive misdemeanor if you are caught pretending your animal is a SD when it is not. If it cost someone $500 getting caught making a fake claim, then maybe that would put a stop to it. Subsequent convictions could carry stiffer fines.

  • Paulene July 13, 2014

    I wish I could have a service dog. It would give me more independence but unfortunately I can’t afford one. I don’t have $10 to $16k for one. I’m living on disability and all the ‘charities’ I’ve found who train and offer service dogs either have waiting lists so long I’ll probably be dead by time I reach the top of the list or they require you to pay out of pocket for the dog. I contacted a local trainer that trains dogs and there is no way I can afford to pay her for her time/expertise. People don’t realise how difficult it is to get a service dog if you aren’t blind. I need a mobility dog/emotional support dog but it is unlikely I will ever have one.

    • windchyme July 30, 2014

      Educate yourself on dog selection, then go to regular old obedience classes…what you learn there helps you task train because a task is like “sit” or a series of manuevers like “sit” then “down” it’s really not all that different other than the thing you are asking the dog to do. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs training their own dog…it can be done. Under this law no one who really needs a service dog and is willing to work for it and can care for a dog should go without.

    • Busterbnutz September 11, 2014

      You need to look more, we have an organization in KY that gives dogs to needy people, trained via the prison.

      • Paulene September 11, 2014

        as far as I know there are no charities in Texas that offer to help you train a dog yourself. I had found a trainer that offers that help but I can’t afford to pay her to do it.

        • Roymond November 15, 2015

          The trainer who helped me was the head of the local animal shelter at the time. I “paid” for her help by volunteering at the shelter.

          For basic training, I relied a lot on YouTube videos. There are also resources referenced on this site that are a great help.

    • Danielle September 11, 2014

      I trained my own dogs as mobility assistance dogs while I was in a wheelchair. You don’t have to buy a dog from some training school to have a legitimate service dog. I’m 25 years old and because I look much younger than that, I have been questioned on numerous occasions despite my dogs’ good behavior (“dogs” is intended to be plural as I trained all of my dogs–3–to do the same tasks). I had one guy ask me for paperwork which I promptly presented my disability card for my car and a prescription note from my doctor and he told me it wasn’t adequate then I presented her walmart ID tag that I had bought for $6 after being hassled for an hour and he was like why didn’t you show me that in the first place? I was infuriated by this point and screamed because this tag doesn’t mean anything. I bought it at walmart. A doctor’s note means I actually have a disability. Anyway, all that to say the prospect of ID tags wouldn’t solve anything and if you want to train your dog as a mobility assistance dog come to NJ and I’ll help you out. (=

      • patti shanaberg September 11, 2014

        I really wish people would stop presenting documentation they are not required to present to anyone. This perpetuates the myth that it is required or even means anything. If those with disabilities are going to carry any documentation to present to anyone questioning their right to have a Service Dog in public please present a copy of the ADA legal requirements for Service Animals available at . While proof of disability and all the other potentially meaningless documentation may help you in the moment, it does nothing to educate anyone, in fact misinforms people and makes it harder for the next person who may not carry documentation that they are not legally required to have or present to anyone. Pet Partners also provides a brochure to describe the legal rights of those with disabilities to be accompanied by a service dog in public places at And better yet – the ADA requirements for Service Animals are outlined at Please copy and provide this documentation rather than other things that are not required, are potentially meaningless and only mislead property managers as to what is legally required.

        • cissy September 11, 2014

          If there was a way to express more than 100% agreement with you Patti, I’d do it.

        • Lisa Maras January 18, 2015

          Exactly! Excellent post!

      • patti shanaberg September 11, 2014

        In addition to or even rather than carrying a copy of the ADA/Service Dogs web site information I suggest bookmarking on your smart phone. That way you can easily show them exactly where that information is coming from – the U.S. government! – for added credibility. Please stop providing documentation that is not required, only misleads property owners and makes it harder for the next person.

        • cissy January 19, 2015

          Thank you Patti. And who gets to be the “service dog police”? All breeds and mixed breeds are used as SDs; many disabilities are invisible. The only issue for Titles II and III of the ADA that people need to pay attention to, IMO, is the dog’s public access skills. If the dogs misbehaves – out it goes, SD or “fake”. I don’t see the harm in a well-behaved dog being in a place of public accommodation as long as it is well behaved. It is when someone is representing their non-SD as a SD in order to get away not paying a fee that would normally be charged for pets that is a problem. That’s theft of service. There are also people with ESAs and TDs who are ignorant about the laws and are not trying to put one over on anyone. They genuinely think their dogs are entitled to public access with them. The answer, IMO, is not restrictive regs, it’s education of the public and businesses and gov’t entities. I have strong opinions about faking an SD, but compromising the civil rights of people with disabilities who use service dogs is certainly not the answer. A service dog, like a wheelchair, is an assistive device for a person with a disability.

  • renee le verrier July 14, 2014

    I just discovered your wonderful site. Loved this article so much that I added a link to it in a recent posting on my service dog blog ( Thanks for the info and insights.

      • woohoo August 4, 2014

        So one thing I’m curious about: While I’ve had ample experience in dealing with business owners, and yes, some have been quite awful, others very professional, I’ve always been able to handle them with grace and aplomb.

        I had my first experience this week dealing with a member of the Service Dog Police.

        I was mortified. My dog and I had not been out in quite some time, and only a limited amount of time in the past 10 months or so. I met two friends for a quiet dinner and then decided to stop at the store. There were only few cars, and I wanted a few items. I was tired but thought it would be easy, no lines. Turns out they had a new computer at the check out, the one lane open had a long line. By the time I got up to the counter, I was exhausted, leaning on my cart and sweating. I felt a tug on the leash and my dog had stood up and taken a step or two toward a young man behind me who was idly swinging a box of cereal back and forth right behind my dog.

        I immediately corrected dog and apologized, and he didn’t go far enough to reach the young man, and I put my dog at a down next to my cart. A loud woman several people back said something and I turned around trying to identify who it was. I don’t hear well. It was obvious who it was because she was staring right at me and I said I was sorry, I’m partially deaf, did you say something? (I needed to read her lips with all the background noise) and she repeated herself very loudly – started questioning me and carrying on. I said “We haven’t been out for about three months and it’s obvious he needs a bit of retraining.” She said “He shouldn’t even BE in public if he does that.” I apologized again and said it was the first time he ever did that – which it was.

        I should have been paying more attention to my dog because it was obvious that I should have noticed he wasn’t paying attention to me, but was probably checking out this young man for some time before he stood up. I was mortified by this breach of etiquette and that I hadn’t caught it before it happened.

        She said again service dog shouldn’t have public access unless he has better manners, and started going on with more questions, She wanted to know about his training, what organization he came from, if he was in training, she said well, I hope he’s not too old. How old is he, and so on. I said I’m sorry, but I need to get to my groceries. She was loud enough as I turned away for me to hear her telling everybody in line how she has been around a lot of service dogs and they shouldn’t act like that. I could tell she was still talking but couldn’t hear her, and I put my stuff up on the counter and kept my head down, but I was so flustered and didn’t know what to do. Everyone was staring at me. I forgot to tell them I had an item in my cart and had to go back to pay for it…it was a disaster.

        My brother said I did the right thing – I felt like I should have had some comeback. He said you can never reason with people like that and I was right to just turn away and ignore her. I felt like she shamed me and that I allowed myself to be shamed – and of course, I felt guilty from the onset because our behavior wasn’t up to snuff.

        So my question is, has anybody else been verbally attacked like that in public by some bystander who obviously just wanted to show off to everybody else at my detriment? It was how she seemed to be rallying a whole crowd of people that was really bothering me. I was very shaken.

        Do snappy comebacks work? Should I think of a variety of answers ahead of time? I came looking for answers and came across this site….but now I’m worried that this kind of thing is happening more often.

        • patti shanaberg August 4, 2014

          In my opinion, and I imagine the opinion of most if not all of those in line, that woman shamed herself not you. My dog goes grocery shopping with me all time and is often much more “relaxed” than that – usually because people want to visit with her so she’s more friendly than most service dogs (she’s also a therapy dog). I’ve never had anyone question me, probably because I’m in a wheelchair, but if I did run into anyone so obnoxious I would be very firm with them what the truth of the matter was (a variety of dogs for a variety of disabilities with a variety of skills, still dogs, anyone can have a bad day etc.) and in so doing make it very clear she didn’t know as much as she thought she did. From what you described, you had nothing to apologize for in my opinion. One thing I do have a hard time witnessing is harsh corrections – or even jerking leash pops with service dogs or otherwise – but especially with service dogs it’s very unpleasant and accentuates misbehavior. I would hope more and more SD trainers are using true scientifically based positive reinforcement (+R) for more reasons that I can say here – and teaching them to handlers – so that leash “corrections” are not necessary. There is so much misunderstanding about true +R though and it’s a real shame.

          • woohoo August 10, 2014

            Thanks for answering. I agree completely – harshness with kids or dogs just isn’t effective and usually works at a cross purpose! As a matter of fact, I generally don’t even use the word no, finding a gentle uh, uh seems to be better responded to on the rare occasion it is needed. I suppose in some bizarre happening that would put him in great danger I would respond differently, of course. A car bearing down on us, or something might cause me to call, yank and run all without a thought.

            Besides, all one has to do is ask “what outcome do I want? Do I want a service dog (or any dog or child) that feels he HAS to do what I say or a SD who WANTS to do what I say?”

            My correction was to say his name, he looked at me and I pointed to the floor next to me. He immediately stepped back to me and laid by my side. And of course I immediately praised him told him what a good boy he was when he immediately stopped doing what he wanted to do and came back to do what I wanted him to. He is so incredibly amazing!

            I may have to think of a few comebacks in case this happens in the future. Of course, as luck would have it, my things were mostly on the track, and with my hearing I would have had to turn around to speak with her and face her directly, holding up the line, and I was not feeling well at all, literally having a hard time keeping to my feet, leaning on my cart, sweat running on my face –

            I imagine that she KNEW she had a good chance of getting by with what she was doing and that caused her to persist. Bullies seem to relish picking on people who they sense weakness in and she probably sized up the situation correctly as to what I was capable of at the time…So glad it wasn’t that Julie Dole who’s been posting on this site, following me around and taking pictures!! All the way to my car with the disabled plates!!

            On the drive back, of course…I thought of a zillion things I could have said. I was a force to be reckoned with…(in my own mind!)

        • Roymond November 15, 2015

          I’ve only had such encounters a few times. One was memorable:

          When my groceries got to the checker, she smiled at me and said, “Just a moment”. She then ducked around the back side of her station and went to the loudmouth who had been sounding off, and told him, “You can either apologize to the gentleman with the service dog or I can call the police and have you banned from the store”. As she waited, other people started to clap. One of them looked at him and said, “Well?” He stammered out an apology, then went to a different checkstand.

          I relate this to show that there are in fact business folks who get it and step up for us.

  • patti shanaberg August 10, 2014

    I’m sorry that happened to you. I cant’ imagine such a thing – especially over such a minor thing! – and I think you’re right, certain people seem to know who they can get away with such behavior with. I’m so glad to hear you do not use harsh corrections with your dog. I’ve seen others correct SD’s harshly in public (over relatively minor behavior mistakes, not anything dangerous as you describe) and it really bothers me. I’ve never said anything but have been tempted to.

  • Nicole October 12, 2014

    I know a young woman with a legitimate disability. However, my concern is that she has been allowed to turn her pet dogs into “service dogs” by simply buying vests online and claiming they’re trained. There may even be a doctor’s note, too, to allow her to take the dogs to school.

    The reality is the dogs’ breed is naturally calm and placid, and the youngest dog only went through one 6-week obedience course with very minimal input by the young woman to properly work with the dog. She claims it is naturally obedient and that it shows its ability to calm her by licking her hand. Of course, within a week of rescuing the dog, it already had a vest and was going out into public with absolutely no training.

    The dog is frequently carried everywhere, and I have observed it barking at other dogs in public and not staying in place when commanded. The dog likes to lay in walkways instead of a designated spot. It is not consistently obedient.

    After reading the ADA guidelines carefully, it seems the dog falls under the area of emotional support dog rather than as a service dog, as she and her family claims. My fear is that she is being allowed to believe and perpetuate the misuse by claiming she has a service dog.

    What can or should I do? I have known her and her family for many years. I believe they just want to take the easy route of what makes and keeps her happy. I respect and understand the use of the dog for emotional support to help keep her calm, but feel like as someone working closely with her I’m promoting a fake dog.

    • Meagan March 5, 2015

      If you feel you should say something I would ask them what task the dog is specifially trained to do for her? You are allowed to ask that question as per the ADA. Other then that theres’ not much you can do except ask that they not bring the dog in a private setting (i.e. your home, a wedding venue etc.) That’s all you can do. Sorry wish I could help you more.

    • Roymond November 15, 2015

      I ran into a situation like this, and asked what the dog was trained to do. When I got a very vague answer, I told the gal she needed the dog trained right, and offered to help. She declined, but when I encountered them again several months later, she eagerly showed off what the dog had learned.

      When there’s a legitimate need, a little encouragement and help is a great thing.

  • Jaye Lewis November 27, 2014

    I probably should not comment, because I find the majority of these comments confrontational; however, I can’t help but wonder where everyone is from ~ what section of the country. I’m from the south, have a small service dog for my PTSD. I’m a veteran, and without her, I would be back in my room, in the dark, afraid to leave the house. She has given me freedom. I don’t have to explain to store employees, because both she and I are respected. My problem is with the general public, who think she is “cute.” My service dog wants nothing to do with them. She is serene and focused on me. When I get upset, because people get in my face or hers, she makes full body contact, often licking my face, bringing me back to a normal state of mind, so that I lose the urge to “cream” someone on the spot. It is stressful. I just want to shop and be left alone. Keep your distance. Stay out of our bubble. She’s not “a baby!” She’s a Working Dog! Good God! She has a vest. She is well trained, and she wants nothing to do with the public. All her ID’s make that perfectly clear, but obviously the general public can’t read! I cannot function alone, without her. I need her, and I WILL NOT walk around telling nosy people, “Gosh folks, I’m a veteran. I have PTSD! You know, shell shock! Would you like to know my story?? How can I make it easy for you??” Good grief! I’m a Vietnam veteran, a woman who does not look my age, so some people simply disbelieve my status. I should not have to explain. I know what it is to be called a “baby killer.” Now I must explain to everyone on this site, why I need my dog? Ain’t happening. I have her card, and my therapist’s card. They can have both, and they can call her, if they dare! Nuff said! Glad I live where I do.

    • patti shanaberg December 2, 2014

      Thank you for your service in Viet Nam! I’m sorry you have to deal with all that ignorance. I agree that unless a dog is flagrantly ill behaved they – even people in this thread – need to lay off the scrutiny. This is a good reminder to me that I need to take the time to educate people that they need to leave services dogs alone even though I let them pet mine. I find most people ask or ignore her but many still assume it’s okay. People also need to know that paperwork is not required. To others who’s disabilities do not include social difficulties please help educate people that there is no paperwork required! It’s unfair to those who may not have it or be caught without it to reinforce this misunderstanding. And especially to those with PTSD to feel they have to produce anything or even have the conversation.

      • Meagan March 5, 2015

        I let them pet my son’s dog especially when he’s with him in public which is 95% of the time. He’s autistic and part of his ASD is social. I think it opens a world of doors for him (my son) if he can talk about his dog with others and can say this is my “R8888” (the SD) and make him more confident in social situations. I have noticed that my sons SD will walk next to him and not allow anyone to get to close to him unless my son is relaxed and open to having people touch him etc. The dog is happier too. I don’t agree that they shouldn’t be touched when they are working unless that is something that is an absolute necessity.

        Danielle, and there was another who said they call 911 first off 911 is for emergencies and secondly screaming at an employee or sitting on the floor only perpetuates the already horrifying stigma of REAL service animals. It’s people like you who mess it up for those with legitimate sds and follow the laws:, county, state and federally. You are the ones who insist on getting your way and your sense of entitlement is sickening. My autistic son is not entitled to get his way all the time and it really chaps me when I hear of or see people like you acting in a manner that negatively impacts the rest of us. It’s just as easy for you to go somewhere else and or leave or come back later. I have done so on many occasions with great results. If they see you are willing to cooperate and be calm etc. You get a better response more times then you get a negative one.

  • Denise J Brigham November 28, 2014

    I have a 3.5 lb. Yorkshire Terrier that is a “legitimate” service dog. However, I get looks and complaints from people when I go to grocery stores, etc., The owner of the grocery store knows me and knows of my condition. I carry my papers with me everywhere which is a pain in the neck because I have a lot of paperwork, but I feel I need to defend myself. I feel bad that manager has to keep defending me when people complain. They seem to think that only German Shepherds, and big dogs can be service dogs. That’s not the case! Any dog can be a service dog, if it has the proper training. My dog still goes through training every week to maintain his abilities. It got to the point I felt bad going to the grocery store any longer. Anyone can see that my dog has been through the proper training. Obedient, non-aggressive, attentive, etc., etc. People need to do their homework on service dogs!

    • patti shanaberg December 2, 2014

      Please don’t feel bad going to the grocery store!!! Although there is still a lot of ignorance in the word all of us with disabilities are pioneers of sorts – with or without service dogs. I actually wish those with service dogs would stop producing “paperwork” other than the ADA which states that no “paperwork” is required. This helps educate people more effectively than reinforcing the misunderstanding that “paperwork” is necessary or required. Although we shouldn’t be required to educate others it is what it is and it’s important that we accept the responsibility with grace and compassion.

    • mike pence April 1, 2015

      you carry alot of paperwork with you ? why on earth ?

  • John December 9, 2014

    A big part of the problem as I read your story is that the “SERVICE DOG” industry has allowed the problem to escalate to where it is now by NOT providing legitimate service dog owners and handlers with appropriate documentation stating these are, in fact ,legitimate service animals. In the hotel industry, I have heard so many times …. “You cant ask me for papers”…..its sickening. These people KNOW we cant ASK FOR PAPERS and that’s why we have so many people passing their runt dog off as service animals. They get away with LYING to get their animal a free pass at a hotel that doesn’t take pets. You want the looks to stop???? you want the judging to stop ?? Give legitimate service animals papers stating as such and make people carry them. That will weed out the liars and will avoid the inevitable family poodle giving true “service animals” a bad name.

    • BOB December 11, 2014

      I agree. why can’t we, the owners of a real service animal, show our papers or doctors letters for a reason for the service animal so as to weed out the fake animals and reasons for such. I have been traveling for 19 years with a service dog. People at the airport have pre flight jetters and when they see a dog they want to say hello or pet the dog. I see no harm in this and it keeps the dog sociable Children flock to my dog and this is a RED FLAG to the un knowning airport people they make much trouble.We the passengers with a service animal can not fend them off without risk of jail. My dog doubles for my sight impaired wife and me with high blood pressure. Can you imagine what a airport a–hole does to my pressure by yelling at me? I could have a stroke or die.LAW SUITS

    • Roymond November 15, 2015

      No, just make the penalty for having a fake service dog a federal fraud charge with a punishment of $1000 and a hundred hours of community service at an animal shelter (cleaning cages would be good).

  • Rick February 5, 2015

    Outstanding article. I face these same challenges every day, especially where I live. When I moved into my apartment complex more than 6 years ago, they had a no pet policy, however allowed my CERTIFIED Medical Service Dog to accompany and live with me. Several tenants griped to the manager wondering why this “new man” was allowed to have a dog and they couldn’t. This seemed to spark a rash movement where one of the tenants told others, “All you need to do is get a doctor to sign off on a letter saying you need a therapy dog, or depression animal and they have to allow you to have one at the complex.” From then on, “pets” started showing up at the complex from cats to even a pit bull. These residents claimed that they needed a companion animal, even though 100 percent of them were NOT trained, had aggressive behavior and simply were there to humor the tenant. One lady who had lived at the complex for more than three years all of a sudden felt she needed a “depression dog,” and got her doctor to simply sign a letter AFTER she got her dog from a shelter. I constantly witness this dog’s horrible leash behavior, constant charging other dogs and continually wanting to play with other people. I know companion animals are not service dogs, but this reminds me of people at Walt Disney World who rent wheelchairs only to get first in the lines.

    I had a flight attendant once ask me, “Is it tough traveling with your dog?” I simply told him, “No, it’s the people that make it difficult.” Just as in your article, I’m constantly stared at, people want to pet my dog (who is not allowed to be social when working at all!) and so many are extremely ignorant in proper service dog etiquette. When asked, “What’s wrong with you?” I usually reply, “Would you ask the same question of someone in a wheelchair?” Of course, people don’t like being corrected and end up extremely mad at me. One idiot (forgive the term) was actually reaching to pet my dog at the Salt Lake City airport right on top of the tag on my dog’s vest that clearly reads “Working, do not pet.” Now, when I fly, I post a sign near my seat that states, “Thank you for not asking about, and ignoring my service dog.” Believe it or not, people still try to pet her, ask about my condition and continually pester me about the entire subject. My favorite? A lady was sitting next to me on my flight from Montana to Orlando. Her first words after taking her seat: ” I know we’re not supposed to pet or ask about your dog, so I won’t. So, what’s her name?” I felt I needed two servings of Crown Royale to get through the first leg of my flight.

    People are going to abuse any privilege, or law that they envy or feel left out of. As you wrote, it looks great on the surface to be able to have your pet with you all the time, but the problems you go through as a result don’t make it so. Wal-Mart, elevators, airports, or just about anywhere, I find myself on the defensive trying to simply get through life without someone harassing me about my partner. I’ve had a service dog for many years (now on my second), and it doesn’t get any easier. Making it even more difficult is the onslaught of liars that mock the system in a feeble excuse to break the rules to have a pet with them when they know it’s not allowed. I’m not sure what makes me angrier.

    It’s only people such as yourself that try their best to post articles such as this to at least try to educate people in this sensitive area. Still, no matter what, you’re going to have people who always think they’re above the law. We can only hope that one day, they get what’s coming to them.

  • Patrick Bresnahan February 8, 2015

    I find this to be a really good and informative article and from reading all the responses i think this is a good forum. ! am a blind guy so when i travel i do not have a lot of the problems with people challenging my sd because it is obvious what the dog does for me.I also carry a white cane so i can switch when the dog can’t guide me.
    I have seen many fakes in my travel.They tend to stand out because they are not trained.

    I also run into alot of questions about the sd from people and children .I do not have a sign telling people not to talk or touch my dog!Having been in Va blind centers where their are alot of dogs,Most of them just says service dog.I find when u command people to not touch or talk to your dog u create a and leave a bad impression with the people.No matter what u put on their it is my experience that people and children will always still ask,we can not get mad at people because they question us about our dogs,When i hear people getting all mad i wonder what is wrong with this person,what are u getting mad at and who does that help?We with sd are ambassadors and every day we have to educate the public what it is all about.If some one asks me to pet my dog or ask what his name is i tell them his name and tell them he his working and will ignore u now because he is in harness and that usually solves the problem. These dogs are well trained and a privilege to have.When you yell at people that touch your sd you are hurting yourself,the dog and all the rest of us that have to walk in your foot steps.

    In my travels I use Amtrack a lot to travel,i find when u make the reservation that u tell them u are bringing a sd and they will look for u and the conductor will know you are coming.Amtrack has defined their sd policy in the last 6 months of 2014,Sd can not sit on a seat or in the isle.Two months ago on a train i saw them remove a lady and her dog because the woman refused to put the sd on the floor,this woman pulled out all this ada paperwork and fought with the conductor about the law she thought she had a right to have the dog next to her,the conductor went and got a copy of the policy and a Amtrak cop.she argued for ten minuets with the cop about the law,I guess she did not know the law that well because he put her off at the next stop. Their are many interpretations of the laws. i find some sites fool people with their own interpretations of what the law really means. I find the best thing is common sense, talk to people and be polite and you can take your sd anywhere without a problem. thanks good site.

    • Meagan March 5, 2015

      Totally agree with you, I have killed more flies with honey and gotten more positive responses and even upgrades for my son because of our attitude where his SD is concerned. We never insist on our way but always let them know we have an SD or are bringing him with us etc. We prepare them in advance and even though paperwork is not required we still carry it just in case. Never have shown it. His tag from the county through AC has all the specifics and a phone number and they can call if there’s an issue. If someone has a fear or is allergic we always try to accomodate that person and never insist they just deal with it. If a reasonable accomodation or compromise can’t be met with from both sides then we will most of the time take the high road, catch another bus, go to a different theater come back for a different time if there’s one available or leave altogether. I agree with you 100% its our job and plus I am teaching my disabled son that just because he’s disabled with an “invisible” disability and he gets benefits etc. does not mean he’s entitled to his way all the time. Sometimes yes, but very rarely.

  • Evan February 13, 2015

    Why do you people think about this? I have 2 dogs and found that you can deduct you’re dog’s medical expenses and a bunch of other stuff your tax return….if they are a service dog. What if I wanted to make my dog a service dog for strictly tax purposes and not really any other benefits? Would all you people hate me? I wouldn’t bring the thing into the grocery store or do anything different. I actually don’t like the dogs…. they are my wifes….

    • patti shanaberg February 16, 2015

      You have GOT to be kidding? If not, this doesn’t even deserve a response.

    • Linda March 7, 2015

      1. Someone in the house needs to be disabled, and listed as such in all kinds of places the IRS can check. 2. A doctor has to sign a letter saying said disabled person needs said dog. 3. Please, try it and see how fast you get audited. Then let us know how THAT stupid idea worked out for you.

    • nick February 25, 2016

      Your an Idiot. Please remove yourself from the gene pool.

  • marvin947 March 6, 2015

    And also you are an insult to the service dog community!!

    Linda McCreary

  • Pippa Hopkins March 7, 2015

    omg .. can’t believe some of these comments. If someone is prescribed a service dog they NEED a service dog. Why would anyone be insensitive enough to ask WHY? I am EXTREMELY lucky not to need one. Service dogs do an amazing job … RESPECT!!

  • Linda March 7, 2015

    This thread has highlighted the problem we all face. We all have a wide range of health and or mental issues that a service dog can alleviate. Those issues also vary in degrees of disability, in frequency of disability, and in visibility of disability. We also have a variety of assistance dogs – owner trained, organizationally trained etc., and those dogs are trained for a wide range of tasks as well. So, we’re trying to put all these things into one recognizable box. That isn’t going to work, but we still have to do our best to get on with life. Some people are going to be d!cks whether you need an assistance dog or not, so WE need to just shake them off and not let them affect us with their d!ckyness. This is an excellent forum to discuss problems, vent or otherwise connect with other people who understand the issues we have to deal with. And I have an idea, lets train our assistance dogs to do a facepalm when we run into those kinds of people (paw over the face) I think that would be a hoot.

  • Ruth March 12, 2015

    Meagan, you sound amazing and thoughtful. I only wish there were more people like you out there. I live in Santa Monica, and there are people with what they call service dogs everywhere I go. I have severe allergies and life-threatening asthma when I am around dogs. I could literally die from being exposed to pet dander. It’s that bad. Not one person in a store with a dog has EVER tried to accommodate me when I have asked if I could just grab something quickly from whatever aisle I was in. Today, there was a dog perched on the shoulder of someone at Krispy Kreme Donuts! I don’t see how that could have been a service dog, but maybe someone here can enlighten me? And people put their little dogs inside their jackets and go into grocery stores. Ugh. It makes me sad for people with disabilities, because there are so many people abusing the ADA law in Los Angeles. Ironically, my asthma and allergies are also covered under the ADA. There has to be a way to differentiate between people with true service dogs (whom I support 100%), and the people who are entitled jerks who just want to bring their dog everywhere.

    • mike pence April 1, 2015

      why dont you lose some weight ? maybe your obesity is causing you asthma to get out of control? sorry but service dogs trump your pet dander with it

      • patti shanaberg April 3, 2015

        How sad that anyone could be so bitter and self absorbed to so rudely claim that service dogs “trump” life threatening allergies? You are the one who needs to get over yourself MP. There is unfortunately no service dog that can help you with that.

  • mike pence April 1, 2015


    • patti shanaberg April 3, 2015

      The INability to hear is by definition a DISability. What is your problem?! You need serious help! Based on your last 2 comments you are apparently a perfect example of the fact that some people deal with their disabilities better than others, some need more help than others, and some are in denial and fail to seek the help they need. It is not for any of us to judge another’s abilities or disabilities or how they cope with them, outside of the legal definition of service dogs, but it’s certainly unfortunate when someone’s disability causes them to cruelly lash out at others so visciously.

    • Cindy morgan June 25, 2015

      Mike are you deaf? I thought not…. A person is considered disabled when one or more life functions required for daily living are not usable or impaired. Deafness is a MAJOR impairment as is blindness or many other things, and just because One is impaired does not mean they cannot function in the job market, school or life. And having a dog “hear”, “see”, “walk” or many other things is a major benefit. Just think if someone was running after you to hurt you and you could not hear them, or a car was barreling toward you and you could not hear it to jump to safety. That is what a hearing dog does.,.. It alerts to sounds not heard by the one with s hearing impairment! Do not judge someone till you have walked in their shoes! Thanks

  • galanda23 June 23, 2015

    I hear your point and I agree that using a fake ID to pass your dog as a service dog is not right. However, this problem doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. Why? Because every civilized country allows dogs on public transportations, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. I’m sure many people would be willing to pay a fee for their dog to be able to take them on the plane but the airlines made the requirements a nightmare, so what can you expect? Do you know what are the conditions for a dog to fly in cargo?

    • songs4silence June 25, 2015

      I ran into a fake service dog at the supermarket. This is not the first time this has happened but it is the first time we have been attacked. We were fortunate that a man in the market came to our assistance and rescued us. I was bit in the hand and Choo in the neck needing a vet visit. Why did this happen in a supposedly safe public venue? Because the supermarket managers in all 3 markets in our town have received instructions from their corporate offices, including Albertson’s, Safeway and Kroeger, that they are not to ask or challenge any dog wearing vest or declared as a service dog. The reason is they do not want a lawsuit based on refusing a service dog. The “service dog” dog that attacked us is now dead, euthed by Animal Control. Is it worth it to take your untraind dog and hang a vest on it just so you can take it shopping? The lady who lost her dog is devastated. I am $375 poorer for a vet visit and worst of all Animal Control wanted to take my service dog into custody.

      Now let me hear your excuses for taking an untrained non-service dog into a public place. .

      • cissy June 25, 2015

        I’ve been a service dog user for 15 years. I can’t imagine how horrifying it is that something like this happened to you. I am so sorry and sorry too for the other woman who had to euthanize her poor dog because of her poor choices. What a horrible experience. How is your SD emotionally? How are you emotionally?

        • songs4silence June 25, 2015

          We are doing well. Tory’s injuries healed and she is doing well at work. Thank you.

          • Cissy stamm June 25, 2015


      • Cindy Morgan June 25, 2015

        This is always my fear when I go out and untrained dogs are in public places or allowed to roam free. My last service dog was attacked at a street fair while she was chained into her bike trailer from a lose dog. My current service dog was attacked by a “service dog poser” pit bull while we were in best buy. When one takes their “pet” into public it is violating Fedral and State laws…..IT IS A CRIME….it is not ok and this is why! Songs4silence I am very glad that your dog was not traumatized beyond being able to work, and to the lady….I am extremely sorry that your dog paid the ultimate price for YOUR STUPIDITY! And for the rest of you that believe you have the right to take your pet into public….PLEASE, PLEASE ……AT LEAST TRAIN THEM TO LEAVE OTHER DOGS ALONE! Thanks

        • cissy June 26, 2015

          It is not a federal crime to falsely represent your dog as a service dog, to the best of my knowledge. It is in some states and if one is receiving goods or services for free because of the misrepresentation, then it is fraud.
          Two of my past service dogs, one quite seriously. These SDs were large, powerful dogs and didn’t get injured, but both became reactive to other large dogs who eyeballed them. It took literally years of counter-conditioning to retrain them and I always had to be alert to potential problems. They would never again ignore a dog that was barking/lunging or eyeballing them. I became quite skilled at management and would have preferred to retire the dogs even thoughI never had an incident with them.
          I am painfully aware of the damage that can be done to our dogs. I do think we can help ourselves by speaking out and also doing education to businesses and other places of accommodation on what kind of behaviour to expect from a SD or SDIT (if your state permits them access) and that they can and should ask that a dog that is behaving poorly be removed. I believe we all need to be highly proactive about this for our own sakes. Businesses need to know they are not at the mercy of a person with an inappropriately behaving dog because a person has said it’s a service dog. Legitimate or not, the person can legally be asked to remove the dog and we should be supportive and willing to testify or do an affidavit if the person files a complaint.
          This has to stop and we can help protect ourselves and the public by speaking out and being supportive of businesses who eject ill-behaving dogs.

          • Cindy Morgan June 27, 2015

            Cissy, clarifying:……the crime is passing oneself off as disabled when they are not… order for a dog to be considered a service dog with public access, it must be handled by a person with a disability and must be trained to mitigate that disability. Any other dog is considered a pet. The dog does not have the rights, the person does.
            If a person takes their “pet” into public and passes it off as a service dog….that person is stating that they are disabled….and if they are posers, they are committing a crime. I hope this clears things up.

          • Nenene June 28, 2015

            Actually inpersonating either a disabled person is unlawful in all states and impersonating a service dogs is unlawful in several states including Calif and Florida.

    • Cindy morgan June 25, 2015

      If you wish to take your dog in public and fly with it do it.,.. However the problem is that if you are passing off yourself as disabled and you are not, just to have your dog with you….you are committing a federal crime…. Service dogs do not have rights…disabled have the right to have their TRAINED dog with them to MITIGATE THEIR DISABILITY!! Think who you hurt when you impersonate someone with a disability! And yes I know the conditions for dogs to fly in cargo…. And I don’t like it either….so change that and leave service dogs alone.

      • Loli April 3, 2017

        Actually, isn’t the criteria for flying merely an Emotional Support Animal, just as it is for federal housing law? It’s not necessary to fake Service Dog status to fly. An ESA is permitted, is it not? Although, I suppose disability status of the handler must still be bonafide, but the animal itself does not need to be specifically ​task trained in order to be permitted for flight.

    • Autumn May 27, 2016

      Yes! I agree entirely. This country’s idiotic ideas about “dog germs” are enough to make me scream. They are not unsanitary. You’re exceedingly unlikely to ever catch any disease from a domestic dog, but people on the bus with you are leaving influenza, rhino virus, hepatitis, pinworms, E. coli, and hundreds of other infectious organisms everywhere they go. People make people sick, not dogs.

      Furthermore, there is no magic that makes a service dog any more sanitary than any other house dog, so it makes no sense that dogs in general are excluded from places where service dogs are allowed. When I was in England, people has their dogs under their tables in pubs. I never saw any kind of incident or issue. No one cared. They were also on the buses. No big deal. The only things that should exclude dogs from anywhere are space (got to have space for passengers), behavior (nice doggy), cleanliness (no filthy dogs just like no filthy anything else), and safety for dog and people. Americans have such sticks up their butts. If we weren’t so damned irrational and inflexible, the whole “fake service dogs” issue would be a moot point.

  • xcDogs June 26, 2015

    Now there is an alternative to folks having “no option” of where to place the pet so they can stop saying its a service dog when it is NOT. We at connect pet owners with local, loving pet Host to sit for an animal short term and last minute. perfect for travelers with pets.

    Check us out, and use us instead of saying, “its a service dog” when it is not.

    Thank you! Sally Baughman, Founder of xcDogs: The Pet Sitting People; nationally. #PetsGoFar

  • Zeanna July 21, 2015

    It would be nice if you put alternate text tags on all those image links so screen-reader users can know what they all are. 😉 I’m so tired of peoples dogs interfering with me and my guide and endangering both of us.

  • Mardi August 13, 2015

    I am an owner trainer,not because I wanted to train my own dog,but out of necessity. I needed a guide dog and there were no schools that would train a guide dog for a wheelchair user. So I took the challenge. I have trained 4 of my guide dogs and am currently working on #5. 3 Siberian Huskies,1Belgian Shepherd and ! German Shepherd. The German Shepherd is the one currently in training. She has just started so she is still being socialized and obedience trained. We are going to pet friendly places to work on her training.I always get complimented on how well my dogs behave in public,where ever we go.I make sure my dogs are well behaved as I know as an owner trainer, my dogs will be scrutinized more than a program dog would be.When people see my current working guide dog,they can’t believe that a Siberian Husky is that well behaved and trained to guide me. I put the time into the training and made sure my dog was right for the job. I use my dogs from a wheelchair.I had to wash out 2 dogs that were not right for the job and 1 because she got Valley Fever..Before I retired my Belgian Shepherd,he was attacked so many times by pit Bulls and Animal control never did any thing about it.I live is Arizona and they don’t enforce the Service dog laws here.When I am trying to get on the bus and some small ankle biter is growling and lunging at my dog……..well it just makes me angry. They are telling me,”it’s my service dog”. Like it doesn’t matter that it is trying to attack my dog because it’s a service dog.Small dogs riding in grocery carts and barking and going nuts at my dog in the store also make me angry.My dog just walks by them totally ignoring them and they want to get at my dog?Most of the time I just ignore them as when I have said some thing to the owner,they get nasty with me. Some lady with a pit bull in a grocery store, with the dog tied to her cart……well,it got away from it’s handler and jumped on my dog. It was growling and trying to bite my dog.I had to grab it’s collar and get it off my dog.I yelled at the woman and also at the manager because the manager refused to do any thing.Even after I tried to educate him.That dog didn’t have a vest on and was tied to the woman’s cart with a rope,”But It’s a service dog”. No, properly trained service dogs act like any of those dogs that were trying to get at my dog.I put a lot of time and training into my dogs to make sure that they do their job well and don’t act up in public and these FAKE SERVICE DOGS and their FAKE HANDLERS get away with this. I am 69 years old and I have a right to go into a store with my guide dog and not have to deal with these FSD and FH and the crap they give me and my dog. Another thing that makes me angry is that people are always petting my dog with out asking me. My dog is not a drive by petting zoo.She has a job to do and that is to keep me safe and guide me where I need to go.I don’t understand why people just pet a strange dog that they don’t even know. They let their children pet a dog they don’t know.Even my Shepherds,they go right up to and pet them with out asking.While I am reasonably sure that my dogs won’t bite,you never know for sure. Some one could step on their paw or in one case A man hit one of my dogs for no apparent reason. My dog did not do any thing but I don’t know for sure that they might not do something the next time. People hit my dogs with grocery carts all too often. I ask people on the bus, to please not stand over my dog and they do it any way. When the bus makes a quick stop, my dog gets stepped on or worse, fallen on. My dogs put up with a lot of crap. If I were a dog, I would probably have bitten 10 people by now.

    • Alice September 9, 2015

      Mardi I agree with your post and I feel sorry you and your dogs have to go through such disrespect.

      I too have a HUGE problem with fake service dogs/handlers. There are laws against fake service dogs/handlers, but how can the laws be enforced? If the fake service dog/handler cannot be authenticated while in a grocery store, then how can anyone prove the service dog/handler is fake? How can the impostors be held accountable?

      Unfortunately the ADA has virtually made it impossible to crack down on fake service dogs/handlers. Anybody can say their dog is a service dog and the task(s) it performs. Fraudulent service dogs/handlers is an epidemic and it needs to stop! There needs to be tougher laws and an easier way to truly authenticate a legitimate service dog vs a fake service dog/handler. Who’s going to stop it though and how can it be stopped?

      Best of luck to you and I am on your and your dog’s sides.

      • cissy September 10, 2015

        It isn’t possible to tell a real service dog from a fake one unless the handler says it’s a fake. Licensing and certification aren’t the answer IMO because of the problem of who does the certification, what is being certified (different disabilities different tasks, etc) and who pays the cost. That’s not to mention the civil rights issues of PWDs who use service dogs. The one thing we all know is when a dog is misbehaving and all access laws have provisions for asking the handler of a dog claimed to be a SD to remove the dog. That’s where we should be educating. Behavioral standards are crucial and should be widely discussed and written about. Disorderly dogs should and can be handled the same way a disorderly person is handled. And what exactly is the harm done to the public if a well behaved dog is in a place of public accommodation that doesn’t allow pets and the dog is actually a pet? It isn’t causing problems.
        Fake service dogs are widely reported to be a big problem in NYC. I live in NYC. I’d love to know how people have come to believe that it’s a huge problem. I just don’t see it, and I’m out and about quite a bit. But then again, how would I be able to tell?

        • Alice October 5, 2015

          Fake service dogs are a huge problem, just read this article and many other articles on the Internet. A fake service dog/handler should not be allowed in a grocery store or restaurant. There are health codes in the US and individual states that specifically state no animals are allowed where food is being served, unless it’s a service animal. There are so many deceitful people who simply pass off their dog as a service dog, so they can have the convenience of bringing their dog anywhere with them. This harms legitimate disabled people and violates health code laws.

          I recently was grocery shopping and a man and woman brought their dog into the grocery store, off of a leash. The dog was wandering around, away from the owners throughout the produce section. I told them to put their dog on a leash, then the man got angry at me and told me to mind my own business. I told him it’s the law and when he brings a dog into a grocery store, it becomes my business as I have rights too! The man said his dog was a service dog and I would bet my life the guy was lying, just like most people do (search the Internet for investigative reports that have been done on this epidemic of deceit). I told him if his dog is a service dog, then he’d know the laws of handling a service dog. Because the ADA has made it so difficult in asking for a legitimate ID, dog owners can continue to lie and manipulate the broken system. There needs to be a way for business owners to be able to legitimately identify a service dog/handler, so the civil rights of the disabled, as well as the non-disabled are not violated. This does not need to be so difficult.

          • cissy October 7, 2015

            I understand your frustration. If you can come up with a system that answers the questions of who pays, who determines if a dog is task trained to mitigate a disability and how does one determine that a dog is a fake service dog? This issue makes good press, but I have yet to see a solution that doesn’t involve a costly system of licensing and education of licensors in all the different types of disability and the tasks a dog can be trained to do. A person with a disability with a service dog cannot legally be asked to pay any fees or show any special identification in order to exercise a civil right that’s free for the general public. This is not entitlement law (for which you must qualify for monetary benefits); it’s civil rights law.

          • Deirdre Maxwell October 7, 2015

            It doesn’t matter whether the dog is “fake” or not, the law was being broken. The ADA requires all Service Dogs to be leashed and under control unless the handler’s disability precludes using a leash. Even then, the dog must be under absolute control of the handler. The law also says that an out of control service dog can be asked to leave the premises. The best way to combat the perceived problem of “fake” service dog is to be well acquainted with what the ADA actually says.

          • Alice October 7, 2015

            @ Cissy: It’s not about me alone coming up with a system. I am contributing in many ways to help stop fake service dogs/handlers but as you know, this is a big problem that the state and federal governments are responsible for ultimately. How costly is it to fix this broken system? Any government run system comes with a cost, regardless. The question is, do the costs to fix this broken system, outweigh the benefits?

            @Deidre: I agree, the law was broken regardless. I know the laws of the ADA like the back of my hand quite frankly, but knowing the laws absolutely does not 100% tell me whether I’m dealing with a fake service dog/handler. One can presume the authenticity of a service dog/handler by the overall behavior, but there is no guarantee. The ADA laws need to be updated and there needs to be a way to authenticate a real service dog/handler.

          • cissy October 22, 2015

            Alice, who bears the cost. Certainly it shouldn’t be the PWD. I don’t support certification unless it’s non discriminatory as a civil rights law.

        • Autumn May 27, 2016

          Well-said! I think people THINKdake service dogs are a “big problem” because they assume anything they don’t recognoze as a service dog is fake. Also, I agree that even if the world was overrun with fake service dogs, it isn’t a “big problem” because they’re just dogs. So what? When someone can prove to me that these fake service dogs are injuring people or property, or even making a general nuisance of themselves, then I’ll be swayed, but right now, all I see are a bunch of whiny twits making ignoran and prejudiced judgements about disabled people with service dogs.

          Personally, I’d rather see the world overrun with well-behaved counterfeit service dogs than have life made any more difficult and complicated for those of us who rely on real ones.

      • Brenda Mantello-Mikula December 4, 2015

        All dogs eyed to be licensed each year thier certificate should be renewed w thier dog license simple

  • Evalyn October 11, 2015

    I am considering obtaining and training a Service Dog to help mitigate my disabilities and as part of treatment. However, I’m trying to get as much information as I can about being a handler, training, the law, and the best methods of training a dog. It’s going to be a big process, but as it is right now, I am not going to be able to live on my own without someone – dog or human – to help me to complete certain tasks in my life as without the support, I could be putting my life in danger again. Reading this article and the responses of some make me a little nervous because of some of the different tones and the reality of judgement which could cause further anxiety… but I will be thinking, praying, learning and hopefully, when the time comes, be able to do what I need to.

    There was a recent incident here in my county where a someone claimed their Pit Bull was an SD. I can’t speak to the validity of the statement as I did not see the dog myself, but this dog attacked a small child. As a result any SD’s that are Pit Bulls (or look anything like pit bulls) may be required by the county to wear muzzles while in public areas. Pit Bulls, German Shepherds and Rotties are all restricted breeds here.

    • cissy October 22, 2015

      Evelyn, if I remember correctly, ADA regulations prohibit breed restriction. I believe this is an issue for animal control or the courts.
      And with regard to certification, it is up to those who support it to work to develop a system that is not discriminatory. So far I haven’t seen one. Until I do, I’ll continue to oppose all certification schemes

  • Brenda Mantello-Mikula December 3, 2015

    Ok I am a woman who was attacked by a dog and have severe anxiety when I see a dog. I understand the need for service dogs and have seen service dogs in stores they are well behaved and stay right next to thier handler. I am shocked to know they do not need a vest w a certificate. I do have a problem w not needing the vest or certificate. Walmart lets every dog through thier doors and I have found myself in very bad situations being confronted by some of these animals running around on thier leashes out of control. I feel safe seeing a vest w a handler knowing the dog is trained and well behaved. I can walk away to a next isle when I see that vest. But when you are in a isle and a dog comes up behind you unexpected and out of control, then you will need to call the EMT,s to control my anxiety. Seems that people who have fears of dogs should have some rights too like expecting a well trained, vest toting w certifiable showing, animal to be in control by his handler. Not some out of control animal showing w the general public.

    • Roymond December 4, 2015

      I discussed this with the vet with a service dog whom I encounter often. When we run into someone afraid of dogs, both our dogs will lie down and be very calm until the person passes by, and if the person needs to be where we are (e.g. for shopping), we back away and leave to come back later.

      I had to take Bammer without his uniform the other day, because when I grabbed it to put it on him I found it dropping wet (thus discovering that my truck has acquired a leak!). So I was extra alert for anyone who might be bothered by his presence. Fortunately, no one was bothered (though two different store personnel asked where his “cute uniform” was).

  • Nenene December 14, 2015

    The ADA prohibits breed legislation. Last week I ran into the market and on the way out there was a standard poodle completely vested with an NSAR card around it’s neck, as we walked out the poodle attacked my dog. Now should we ban all standard poodles? A dog is only as good as its owner. The problem is fakers and how to deal with them and frankly the way the law is written it is prohibited to even ask if the dog is trained. Remember the ADA only -requires- behavior, to be housebroken, under control and trained to perform task(s) and work to aid in mitigating a persons disability.

    The ADA does not cover what happens on the street of one service dog attacks another or the training of a service dog. The ADI and the IAADP can only suggest a line of training and etiquette where overseas it is the law The traiing our dogs receive whether it is a program or owner trained is only a suggestion not the law. Now what?

    • cissy December 14, 2015

      Nenene, I’m so sorry this happened to you and your dog. What exactly happened during the attack? My SD was attacked 8 years ago (he’s now dead) and it took me almost 2 years to rehab him. It was not a SD who attacked him, but I am very wary of any dog that I don’t know being close to my SD. There are laws in NYS against harming or interfering with a service dog (I think harming is whether or not they are working) but getting laws like this enforced are a problem. I don’t think there is any good answer to the problem of our dogs being attacked except vigilance. And some dogs take it in stride and it’s no problem for us if they’re not injured. The dog I’m working now could care less and seems to simply be able to diffuse any aggression directed at her. My past 2 dogs were definitely affected. How has your dog been? Oh, and it doesn’t matter if the dog is a SD or not; the damage can still be done. What’s a NASR card. If it’s the National Service Dog Registry then it’s pretty widely agreed that this is a bogus organization that will certify any dog for a price.I personally think these types of “certifying” organizations should be shut down.

  • Nenene December 14, 2015

    There’s really nothing to tell. The poodle came at us and I pushed the grocery cart into it’s face. By then the owner had gotten control of his dog. He apologized and said that had never happened before. I don’t believe that and told him he need better training for his dog then I left. I do have friend whose dog was attacked by a doberman that caused serious injury and another that was attacked by a police dog in in the San Francisco airport while he was in the TSA line. Attacks on service dogs seem to be fairly common.

    • Mardi December 15, 2015

      Years ago I was at a function in down town Tucson,and my guide dog was attacked by a German Shepherd police dog and when I complained, the police refused to do any thing.These dogs are trained to attack and they need a handler that can control them. If a police officer can’t control his K9, He should not be a handler. The police are not above the law even if they think they are. There are laws to protect our dogs, but they are not enforced,at least in Arizona. I have had to retire a dog because he had been attacked by 7 different pit bulls. My dog became dog aggressive after being attacked so many times,but nothing was ever done. Even when there were many witnesses to the attack. We are not safe out their and we need to find a way to get the service dog laws enforced. One person can’t do it but if we all got together on it, may be we could force them to enforce the laws. I am so disgusted about how our dogs and we are treated!!!!!

    • cissy December 15, 2015

      Nenene, too often they lead to the retirement of a SD. I think the worst problem is for guide dogs. I’ve had my dog agressed at by police dogs a number of times, especially after 9/11 when they were putting not properly socialized dogs into duty. It’s something I worry about all the time with any dog I don’t know, SD (I know they’re legit) or not. You can’t always tell what will set another dog off. And I had 2 dos that I had to watch vey carefully after they were attacked. I think it’s something we just have to live with unfortunately. All a public access test does is test how a dog does at that particular point in time, not how they’ll do in all situations. I suppose it’s a start, but I know there’s a lot of situational discomfort with SDs.

  • CRails December 19, 2015

    Great website, and fascinating topic. When we lived in New Jersey, we were happily located close to the Morristown, NJ, based headquarters of Seeing Eye, which was the first organization in the US to train dogs for the blind. Our family volunteered to raise two different puppies and as Puppy Raisers, we were affiliated with a 4H club that met weekly to socialize and do basic obedience training for puppies from their certified breeding system from six weeks to 20-ish months. Thousands of hours of socialization and training including public location access, to airports and train stations, in neighborhoods and cities. Once the dog was the right age, they were turned back to HQ, where they went through another several months of observation and training for health, temperament, and specific task training in the harness. Both our dogs ‘passed’ and were matched during a 4 week process at the center where disabled people learn how to handle the dog and work with it. So in other words, it isn’t about just training the dog, it is about training the handlers. As a person who didn’t know anything about service dogs before doing this volunteer work, I had no idea of the ‘rules’ when you see a service dog, e.g. don’t pet, nor did I fully appreciate the legal struggles to bring a service dog into a location. For those of you with disabilities, I cannot possibly appreciate your struggles, but I can ask for your patience dealing with the cluelessness of the general public – because I was one of them. I do know that the Seeing Eye was very involved in trying to change legislation regarding interfering with a Service Dog from untrained dogs that attacked the team. Here’s a great link on the facts and the issue:–legal-information/dog-attacks.html

    On a personal note, I have a close relative who was recently diagnosed, after decades of not knowing what was wrong, with PTSD, anxiety, bi-polar, etc. Mental health disabilities really suck along with the long process to get official recognition for disability so she can get services. After having such a great experience with the Seeing Eye am doing homework on whether or not a service dog or a therapy dog (and now I know the official difference!) would work for her, which is why I am on this site. I have been with her when she had an anxiety attack in public and there is nothing more awful to watch and feel helpless when someone you love goes through the trauma.

    Again, thanks for such a great site!

    • cissy December 28, 2015

      Service dogs for people with mental illness have been covered for years under the ADA. They have the same requirements as any other service dog. I’ve used a dog for PTSD for 15 years. Task trained they can be very helpful for people with bi-polar, PTSD, various anxiety disorders to name some conditions. Therapy dogs do not work for the benefit of a disabled individual; they do pet visitation or animal assisted therapy and are considered companion animals (pets). Emotional support dogs work with people with disabilities, do not need to be task trained, and do not have access with their disabled owners. For a good overview, visit the IAADP site.

  • Gayel Hawkins December 24, 2015

    I have a neighbor who claims that his two dogs are service dogs, at least one” trained” and one in “training” we’ve tried not to question whether his claims are valid or not, but now we’re concerned because both dogs try to attack other dogs and even people without provocation, what can we do? By the way I live in a condo where I am HOA president.

    • Nenene December 28, 2015

      If both dogs are aggressive and try to attack other dogs and people without provocation then they are not service dog. SDs are not aggressive nor do they nor do they bark at people when they are out in public. Both the ADA and HUD fair housing law say that service dogs must behave and be in control in public. I suggest you check your state law about service dogs then file a complaint with animal control. If wither dog bites someone or attacks another dog then they are not service dogs.

  • Mark Fowler January 19, 2016

    Thank you for writing this article. I’m a US Army Veteran and former Civilian Law Enforcement. Thanksgiving Eve of 1996 I went through another horrific “out of the ordinary stress of police work” and I was diagnosed with a severe case of PTSD. Many years went by with a lot of ups and downs on a daily basis. I suffered one loss after another .. believing I was cursed. Finally in August of 2000 I took a medical retirement for PTSD as a line of duty injury / disability. About 10 years later I found a place to live where it’s fairly warm and a lot of sunshine during the winters; Arizona. First 3 summers I went to a cooler climate where I had friends/family. Summer of 2013 I decided to stay in the heat. July of 2013 I ran an advertisement on Craigslist looking for a dog to rehab and rehome furever. I just wanted a dog in the house with me. I am a dog trainer and former K-9 patrol Deputy. September 2013 .. I found a dog and she was afraid of everything and everyone. About 9 months later with a lot of confidence building; training at home, and then in public. At one point while doing obedience drills in a grocery store I was approached by a person in the service dog industry. That’s when I realized that PTSD qualified me to have a dog partner who could go everywhere I wanted to go. Funny thing is .. I didn’t really want to go anywhere. But I noticed that training my dog formal obedience in public places caused me to focus on the dog; not the people. That ultimately started a level of confidence in myself to be out in public, and through my dog’s training; with her at my side I get stares and glares all the time. I simply look straight ahead or down at my dog and continue shopping for groceries. Then there’s the looks of admiration from others .. especially the children. I have a “DO NOT PET” on the side of my dog but when it comes to children as long as they are well mannered I will stop and allow them to interact with my dog. Anyone who owns a disability … and has the aptitude to train a service dog partner … should do it. Those of you with PTSD or other form of PSD who loves dogs and wants a dog; go get one. If it’s your heart’s desire just do it. I don’t stress in public with my service dog any longer; I just tell people that I “train service dogs.” When my girl is off leash at my side and does everything I need her to do with hand signals and body language; people stop and watch us work. My precious “Nahla” is a Belgian Malinois and one of our newest drills is “backing” together at entry doors of stores. Believe it or not service dog teams get bullied by people trying to get out of stores and/or just walking down the aisles in a grocery store. I have taught my girl the command “basket” and she gets behind the basket as we walk. I use this command when I can see a traffic jam ahead. I’ve also taught her to “go” when I grab the handle of the harness; in which she will start pulling and heading for an exit. Most of the things that I trained her for are not as necessary now .. and it’s because of the healing I have going on; because of her. Because of the abuse and misuse of the ADA law regarding service dogs / animals … we have to be diligent and vigilant in helping to support standards and the laws that are there to help those of us who need and use a medical service dog. I know I’m sounding a little harsh about all of this but it’s because when our freedom is taken away that’s when we appreciate our privileges the most. I’m proud to be born an American Citizen and I love our country. The USA may not be perfect but as an American Citizen we experience freedoms here that many others will only dream about. Something I have wondered about for a very long time; while I was in Germany for a few years back in the 1970’s I noticed dogs everywhere; restaurants, stores, downtown etc. The first time I saw a dog sitting (in a chair) at the table next to his handler in a restaurant it was startling. Now I wonder .. why was that?

    • Mardi January 21, 2016

      Mark, I enjoyed reading your post and I am glad your Nahla has helped you so much.I also live in Arizona and I just retired my Belgian Tervuren guide dog that I trained my self.I have trained all of my own guide dogs as I use my dog from a wheelchair and the guide dog schools no longer train for wheelchair users.I am currently working with my Siberian Husky guide dog named Nici. I recently purchased a Dutch Shepherd puppy to train as my fifth guide. She will be ready to go to work as Nici is ready to retire. I am so glad we as disabled owner trainers are given this chance to train our own service dogs.If I were not able to train my own guide, I would not have one.Yes I agree with you that we have more freedom than other countries and I hope it stays that way.

  • Denise March 5, 2016

    Excellent Article, Fantastic, honest feedback. I am a rehab counselor. I’m glad those of you with legitimate service animals are doing the work you are doing to ensure your service animals provide the services you need and I’m good with the law the way it is currently written. I am training a “therapy dog”, not a “service dog”. her purpose will be for children who need reading assistance (dog provides a calming non-judgemental environment). Keep up the good work with your service animals, and keep educating the public about a task the animal provides for you while protecting your privacy regarding specific disabilities. Don’t be bullied. But also a word of caution, when it comes to restaurants and their management that do not know the law;, don’t take the risk and push back just to eat there. You don’t know what they might put in your food. Move on to a restaurant that respects the law, and provides a healthy safe place for you and your service animal to enjoy a meal, and/or the companionship of other people. These are the businesses that deserve and will appreciate you patronage.

  • Karie April 8, 2016

    I got my dog when he was a puppy. He started to alert me before I would have a seizure. We took to a few classes but he is in no way what one would call a “model” service dog. He still does his job, but its not like he is focused on me 110% of the time. He sniffs things, and other people. I am grateful that I have him and his abilities, but since he is not so well trained I am afraid to take him out.

    • patti April 10, 2016

      Medical alert dogs, as you describe, are considered service dogs and therefore protected under the ADA for public access. Why not find a good positive reinforcement training class so he is well behaved enough to take out? It will probably take more than 1 course and require a commitment on your part to practice regularly. It’s essential to be responsible and objective but I think (and agree) that part of the reason there are no “certifications” required are for dogs such as yours who serve a necessary purpose for someone with a disability but would not need to pass the type of task certification some people think is necessary. By the way, while CGC classes and tests would seem to suffice many CGC evaluators are WAY too lenient so a CGC title in and of itself should never be taken at face value.

    • Cissy Stamm May 27, 2016

      Great that your dog alerts. Good public access skills are required for service dogs. If they create any kind of problem you can be asked to remove your dog. Have you considered additional training?

      • Roymond May 28, 2016

        CIssy, “creates any kind of problem” is not listed as a reason for legitimately ejecting a service dog.

  • Marcie April 10, 2016

    Thank you so much for this article. I have used Service Dogs for years. I have Fibromyalgia which brings a new set of difficulties each day. I never know what is going to hurt tomorrow when I get up; If I can get up. I also have arthritis in my spine. My Service Dogs help with forward movement and balance assistance. You cannot see any of these ailments.

    I taught a Canine Studies program at a private college for many years and I continue to keep up with new ideas in training. I am lucky that I can train my own dogs and eventually I plan to breed them to be placed with Veterans who cannot get dogs to help them. I learn something every time I take one of my dogs out. Once I got off of a plane in Chicago and it was winter. They had blue tarps on the floor of the elevators and it was at this point that I learned that this particular dog did not want to walk on anything blue. The plastic was OK because we walk on tarps during training. While studying for my degree in Veterinary technology we did a project to prove that dogs can see color. Probably not as vividly as we do but definitely color.

    Having been an educator for so long I am always willing to answer questions if approached politely. I am happy to see more people asking if they can pet my dog, rather than just walking up and doing it. I always answer questions to try to educate people although it usually takes 3 times as long to accomplish my task and sometimes I am so tired and sore I don’t finish my objective. Sadly I am seeing more of these fake Service dogs and my German Shepperd was attacked by one at a WalMart pharmacy. It seems most owners of fake Service Dogs are belligerent probably so no one wants to question their dogs training.

    People don’t see the work that goes into a partnership with a Service Dog. They have to be clean and brushed and if it is hot and you don’t have boots for them you must find shade or at least white concrete to walk on. I keep a portable water bowl, waste bags, paper towels and wet wipes in my bag for the dog. When we are on the way home they just collapse in my truck for a nap. My dogs are constantly watching me in case I need help and also their surroundings for danger. Even though you would not notice, they are “ON”, the whole time we are working. I always have to find a parking space with enough room for the dog to get into the truck. I look for grass or trees that are far from buildings and I keep water in my truck in case they urinate and it gets on pavement so that I can wash it away. If I am on a plane trip I try to schedule plane changes so that I have enough time to take my dog outside and then line up and go through security again. I train my dogs to NEVER touch their teeth to human skin and that it is OK to pull hair, ears, tail, bother their feet and anything else that a young child might do. In our world there is no such thing as a Socialization period; their whole life is socializing. I usually have 1 retired dog, 1 working dog, and one in training. They all have to be groomed regularly, fed a good diet and have any Veterinary care necessary. A proper harness is expensive and if they cannot share then I need another. I have heard people say, “poor dog”, but all of my dogs have loved to go out and work, even when they have to back up under a table at a restaurant. They are not permitted to watch people eating but my dogs know they have a great treat waiting for them at home. I have learned from my dogs, how to make their training fun, working fun and all of the new things we come across, interesting. I have trained them how to know when to protect me and I practice training with facial expressions and body posture.

    I wish you would make a sign regarding Fake Service Dogs so that stores and restaurants can post them. Maybe I will submit one to you. Hopefully we can stop these companys’ from selling Service Dog kits to just anyone. My dogs do not wear a vest, just a tag on their harness. It is cooler and less restrictive.

    Thank you again,

  • John O'Connor April 20, 2016

    Service dogs are a great asset to those individuals needing their assistance. After saying that I want to say that I think the law is being abused by people who just want to take their dogs with them wherever they go. Just as “people” are required to produce drivers licenses, photo ID’s or passports when traveling, purchasing liquor or cigarettes and etc., so should service dog owners. I can go on and on but the bottom line is this, if I’m asked for example for my ID before being admitted say to a “R” rated movie because I don’t look 18, I have to just smile and show my ID. Disabled people who need dogs should have to do the same thing, smile and show a proper dog ID, that is if the law required it which we all know; now they don’t. It is totally unfair…just saying

    • patti April 20, 2016

      The problem with that, which has been pointed out & discussed in the thread before, is that there are far too many different types of services animals provide for many different types of disabilities – all with different qualifications. So who would provide these ID’s in a way that would not be meaningless or require unnecessary and irrelevant testing? The idea is ripe with opportunity for fraud. to say the least.