JoAnna Lou
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Revisiting Fake Service Dogs
A growing problem which has no easy solution.

A few years ago I wrote about people passing off their pets as service dogs so they could ride in the cabin together (thus avoiding the hazards of cargo and extra fees).  Although the practice is  unethical, and makes travel harder for people with legitimate service dogs, the problem seems to only be growing.

Heated discussions crop up every time there's a national dog competition.  The latest discussion around the American Kennel Club’s Invitational event led some to call for organizations, such as the AKC and the United States Dog Agility Association, to get involved.  There's also a lot of false information floating around (like that it's a felony to pass off a pet as a service dog or that a limited number of service dogs are allowed on any given plane--both untrue).  Bottom line, it's a sensitive subject and the more I research the topic, the more I realize how complicated it is to regulate such behavior.

The biggest challenge is maintaining the privacy of those with legitimate service dogs.  The law is intentionally open ended to allow for a large and growing number of disabilities.  Most people with service dogs oppose any sort of registry because it's hard to figure out a fair and equitable way to determine criteria for eligibility.  

Tightening laws and giving businesses more leeway for questioning people causes unfair scrutiny for those with legitimate service dogs.

I think it has to come down to people having a little more respect for true service dogs and compassion for those who have no choice but to rely on these animals.

I'm also very disappointed by dog show/sport people who falsely pass of their pups as service animals.  It looks really bad when planes headed towards a big show are filled with an unusual number of “service dogs.”  I always think of dog show/sport people as being exemplars of responsible pet care and this kind of behavior casts a negative light on all exhibitors.

I understand that many people do it because it's safer for the dog to travel in the cabin, but it’s important to remember that getting to a national competition is not a necessity.  

And finally, the root cause is a lack of safe and affordable air travel options for medium to large dog breeds.  But until airlines cater to that need (which I doubt will be any time soon, if ever!), people have to consider the impact their actions have on others.

What do you think the ideal solution is to the faux service dog problem?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by pmarkham/flickr.

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Submitted by Beth Finke | January 29 2013 |

I am blind and rely on my magnificent Seeing Eye dog to help me get around safely and efficiently. I’ve always thought the best way to alleviate this problem is to lean on the airlines to provide safe and affordable air travel options for medium to large dog breeds. I appreciated your writing this post but was disappointed when you were so skeptical about the possibility of the airlines coming up with safe and affordable air travel options for medium to large dog breeds (“which I doubt will be any time soon, if ever”). With an attitude like that, you’re right, it *will* never happen. But maybe if all these people faking disabilities would rally together and try to change the airplane rules, there’d be power in numbers.
I travel a fair bit. It hurts my feelings to hear fortunate able-bodied people at airline counters claiming they have disabilities so they can bring their companion animal on board. I live a good life and have adjusted to my blindness, but I sure wish I could see. If so, I wouldn’t have to bring my dog on the plane at all.

Submitted by Michele | January 31 2013 |

Without my service dog, I'd likely be dead. But to be honest, traveling with him is a huge pain. It was much easier to travel before I was disabled. I'd give up taking my dog everywhere with me in a New York minute to have my health back. People should count their blessings that they are healthy.

As for having your large dogs fly safely, an airline specifically for transporting pets recently went under because no one was using it. Maybe carpool with a bunch of other show dog handlers to reduce the cost or use one of these services. A simple Google search pulled these up, I'm sure there are more.



Submitted by Sapphire Stanton | January 31 2013 |

This is such a tough subject for me. Here in the UK there is a register for Service animals and in most places they wish to see your documents. My Raven is a Service dog. I rely on him for soo many things. If I drop things he retrieves them, He helps me up if I fall and probably most importantly he helps me regulate anxiety in crowds and when travelling. However the charities in the UK that register Dogs will not accept him because following two vicious attacks by uncontrolled dogs he is frightened and screams when confronted. If we had a system like that in the States, my Raven, who is my life line would have more rights. He has been through training, it is just policy and a poor trainer that has put me in often dangerous situations, for example, I have to go away to my sisters wedding and I cannot have him with me because he does not have registration papers. On the flip side of this, I have an acquaintance with a fully qualified and registered guide dog for the blind that is a total menace, which has gone for my dog. The only reason I have not reported it to the authorities is because I know only too well how dependent the handler is on the animal.

I fully appreciate that the US system is open to abuse which is reprehensible, I personally would rather have that and be able to have my Raven with me doing the vital job he loves and does so well.

I am lucky in that within my home town we are a well known team, myself, Raven and Dusty who is a registered visiting dog for Pets As Therapy, who goes into nursing homes and hospitals to visit patients, and as such are welcome into a great number of places. I cannot however take him out of town.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 31 2013 |

It is not entirely accurate to state that "most people with service dogs oppose any sort of registry.."
I am a service dog owner and know other service dog owners. My experience leads me to believe that it may be more of a 50-50 split. I am one of those who would like to see some sort of certification program. A dog could be certified and the owner required to show certification without the need for the person to disclose his or her specific disability to the general public. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of having a "disability" and know that the very act of going out in public with my dog automatically makes me stand out. This is one of the realities of with having a service dog.

Submitted by Kevin | January 31 2013 |

I think that both education of pet dog owners, and better airline accommodations, for pets, is the way to reduce this problem. Perhaps regulations, on how much an airline can charge, for accommodating a pet would help too. I am thinking that maybe they could not exceed 75% of the passenger's ticket price, or something like that. It probably should be a felony to fake a service dog, or ESA, on an airplane too.

There is no absolute solution. Some people are going do it, no matter what. To reduce the number of fakers, the best solution is for people to realize that it's wrong, and make it less socially acceptable.

Submitted by Debbie | January 31 2013 |

Education is the best solution! I am a service animal education consultant, with a primary goal of educating employees, of businesses dealing with the general public, in the proper etiquette when interacting with a service dog handler and their dog. Having worked in the service dog industry for 16 years, I witnessed so much.
The worst offenders are people who want to have their personal pets with them at all times and figure the best way to do that is to say they are a "service" animal. travel with their "pets," and don't realize how much they are jeopardizing the access rights of legitimate service dogs. Fake service dog gear is plentiful online but the root problem is most personal pets are not trained in the manner that service animals are and this will eventually create a real problem. Some business owners just throw their hands up in frustration at the level of hudspah personal pet owners go to with their "fake" service dogs, i.e. dogs eating on top of a table, cause a problem. Please keep your personal pets at home.

Submitted by Debbie | January 31 2013 |

Looks like my last comment was sent off before it was supposed to!! oops!
Bottom line, people should not be passing their personal pets off as "service dogs." I'm a service animal education consultant and take a very dim view when someone comes up to me and gleefully says they take their pets everywhere as their "service" dog..wink, wink!
They don't understand the access issues they create that are jeopardizing the rights of the legitimate service dog handler.
Education is key to stopping this out-of-control practice of "fake" service dogs, and I'm hoping someday, there will be some type of national ID program in place that will help.
In the meantime, please keep your personal pets at home, and let those dogs that have had the unique upbringing and specialized training be the ones we see in public, whether on the ground or in the air.

Submitted by Toneya | January 31 2013 |

Oh my tell me about it I have a service dog for Epilepsy and all the proper identification and tags we travel quite a bit and actually love when airlines and Hotels ask us for her identification that is what they should do there certainly needs to be stricter rules not just having a vest with patches, shoot anyone can get that so I vote stricter rules.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 4 2013 |

don't I know it! I usually do provide proof when asked, but it does get annoying!

Submitted by M-Monica | February 1 2013 |

I, too, think the only solution is for airlines to provide safe transit for medium and large dogs. I would like to clarify one thing. A main reason there is no certification for service dogs is that there is no certification of trainers of service dogs. There are a great many fly by night training organizations and some people with legitimate disabilities who would benefit by having a properly trained service dog end up getting poorly trained (and in some cases untrained) dogs from these schools. Assistance Dogs International, an organization of legitimate service dog training entities, has been working on this problem for a number of years. Another issue is how do you determine criteria for a service dog. You might say a dog needs to be told to stay and to not move until being told to. But a hearing dog, if presented with an unusual noise, will properly (for this kind of trained dog) break a stay to alert his human deaf partner of the noise. It's a complicated issue.

An interim thing that airlines could do is train their staff to recognize that dogs that cause disruptions are allowed to be denied the access normally offered to properly trained service dogs. Even a properly trained service dog can be ousted if that dog is disrupting people. I, personally, have removed a service dog that was once properly trained but whose partner allowed the training to lapse from a university campus. It was final exam time and the human partner allowed her dog to bark, making no attempt to quiet the dog or remove the dog from the building. She was told she could return with the dog once she could show that she had control of the dog and would keep the dog quiet.

The American Kennel Club should work through its partner clubs to educate their people on why they should not bring their dogs into the cabin of an airplane at this point in history. They should also work to change airline policy on safe transit for dogs, especially show dogs that are worth a lot of money. Too often you hear about dogs that have died in cargo holds. I have never heard of a horse dying in an airplane, so airlines do know how to safely transport animals.

Disclaimer: I have worked as a professional dog handler for AKC sanctioned shows, I am now disabled and have a service dog.

Submitted by H. Lewis | April 9 2013 |

I am a 3x Combat veteran who has a diagnosis of PTSD due to combat as well as Military Sexual Trauma. I have a dog that was prescribed to me as my service dog, she did not come from an organization. Having trained other people's dogs for more than ten years, I have trained my service dog myself for my specific needs. I have specifically trained her (among other things) to bark so as to alert me to specific things and situations and not allow me to dismiss her off hand. She has been trained to do this for my safety. I would hope that you, airlines and others would at least verify that a service dog is going what they're supposed to be doing before you think to throw them out because of an assumption that they're misbehaving. All I ask of anyone is that they ask questions. Safe journeys to you and your service dog.

Submitted by Christie | February 4 2013 |

Is it true that it is illegal to ask a person if they have a service dog with them? I have heard that a few times (I knew a woman who almost got a server fired and threatened to bring down a restaurant in her stories because the server asked for something to prove the dog was a service dog).

I will not fly with Lulu unless she can come in the cabin, and since she can't Lulu, doesn't fly. But it is a huge issue in Florida with the theme parks as well. Many touristy places don't allow dogs, and people try to get around the rules.


Submitted by Anonymous | February 4 2013 |

The law on what can and cannot be asked of a person with a service dog is explained on the US Department of Justice's web site here: http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm. According to this site: "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."

Submitted by Heather | May 17 2013 |

Yes and no. It is absolutely not illegal to ask "Is that a service dog?" It is however illegal to insist on papers or an ID proving this. You can ask three questions: "Do you have a disability?" You can not ask what disability it is. "Is that a service dog?" They must answer yes, and they must not slip up and say companion dog, therapy dog, emotional support dog, working dog, search and rescue dog, police dog, etc, as these are not protected statuses, and any real handler knows this. Finally "What specific trained tasks does the dog perform to midigate your disability?" Answers might include, guiding, providing space in crowds, alerting me to medical epesodes, interupting compulsive behaviors, alerting to sounds, body blocking to preserve personal space, tracking an autistic child who wanders off, pulling a wheelchair, turning on lights, opening doors, carrying and retrieving objects, going for help, providing stability, providing trafic safety work, performing obsticle clearance, checking a room or corner before handler enters or turns it, and so on. They should have at least two or three small tasks or at least one major task. Unacceptable answers include "grounding me" "Keeping me calm" "Protecting me" or "helping me with social interactions." I hope that clarifies some things for you. Also, please remember that a psychiatric service dog for someone with PTSD, TBI, BiPolar, ADHD, etc has specific tasks they are trained to do, and are real service dogs, different from therapy dogs and emotional support dogs who just provide comfort, which is not a lidgitimate trained service.

Submitted by Edward Clark | June 19 2013 |

Is it also illegal for a campus police officer to DEMAND to see proper documentation while walking the dog along the perimeter of a community college? He has banned me until I can prove certificaton. I have a TBI.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 4 2013 |

I think one of the most important parts of this issue is the ways in which we identify service dogs. I raise guide dogs and the organization provides me with a vest, however I also work at a Petco and one day a woman came in and asked if we sold service dog vests, I said no, because there would be lots of frauds, she said she would just go and get one online then.

Intrigued I looked online and I was able to get to the point of purchase on a vest claiming my dog was a service dog without any form of proof or paper work! I believe websites like the one I was on make it easy for forgeries. Vests and ID's should be more closely regulated, perhaps include an official ID when applying for a service dog stating that this person uses one.

The ID can be tied to the person instead of the dog, so that it won't need to be renewed every few years but then airlines and such can simply ask to see this one ID (almost like a drivers licence type thing). The harder we make it to pass off fake dogs, the fewer there will be, a regulated way of identification is the first step!

Submitted by Elliot | October 20 2013 |

I think that an ID system would be the best way to regulate service dog handlers. Just as Social Security has a responsibility to keep private medical/disability information private, maybe the department that regulates the ID system could be bound to the same hard-and-fast privacy policies as the SSA.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 4 2013 |

This issue is very similar to dogs or other animals being called 'therapy dogs or animals'. When in fact, they do not have the license to provide any type of therapy, only a licensed human service worker can do legally provide therapy.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 4 2013 |

As an individual with the best ( yes, my opinion) seizure alert Pomeranian in the whole wide world, I get questioned about his legitimacy as a service dog all most every time we are out and about. I get the " you don't look disabled" every day.
It is against the Americans with Disabilities Act to ask what a person's disability is and/or to provide proof of that.
Even though I get annoyed, (since it is none of their business) I tend to provide proof of both, to help folks with LEGIT service dogs.

It is so important that people with all kinds of disabilities be permitted to bring them ANYWHERE. It is reprehensible that people trivialize the importance of LEGIT service dogs by saying their pets are!!

There is no easy solution other than folks like me, taking one for the team & letting people know that , yes they are disabled & providing proof

Submitted by Stephen Kuusisto | February 6 2013 |

There's a blog post over at The Bark's website by JoAnna Lou entitled "Revisiting Fake Service Dogs" which is a follow up to an earlier post by the same author. Ms. Lou's issue is with non-disabled people passing off their dogs as service animals, largely to bring them aboard airplanes. Service dogs fly in the cabin and can't be put in cargo. As a guide dog handler who has flown hundreds of thousands of miles over the past 18 years, I want to weigh in on some of the contentions in Ms. Lou's posts.

One of her assertions is that dog show people routinely cheat by passing off their pets as service dogs while traveling to dog related competitions. I have no doubt that people do this. As Ms. Lou correctly points out, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require people with disabilities to provide documentation for service animals when accessing public places. By way of analogy ask yourself what it would be like if, as a non-disabled individual, you had to produce your Passport every time you went into a grocery store or movie theater or restaurant, or wanted to board a bus. Clearly you'd find yourself without the documentation because you changed your handbag, left your briefcase on the desk, or forgot the Passport in the pocket of your other coat. The ADA is a Civil Rights law and not a "hall pass" to the bathroom in Junior High.

I am getting ahead of myself. But the Civil Rights aspect of service dog travel is important. I was recently in Japan where I visited the Kansai Guide Dog training school. I learned there are not equivalent access guarantees for guide dog handlers in Japan. What this means is that blind people with professionally trained guide dogs can only travel to places that will admit them on sufferance. This is precisely what the ADA's documentation clause is designed to avoid. Your disability doesn't have to be "proved" if its invisible; you don't need to show them a letter from your eye doctor proclaiming your vision loss; you don't need to tell the professor how you got PTSD; you don't need to show your service dog's official license to get in the door.

Not long ago I was denied access to a tony restaurant in New York City. The doorman and the night manager wanted me to "prove" that the yellow Labrador beside me, wearing a leather harness that says "Guiding Eyes" across the back strap, was really a service dog. We had a frank conversation and I told them they were violating the law. Later the owners apologized. They offered me a free dinner but I won't go back. I did have an ID card from Guiding Eyes for the Blind in my wallet. But the doorman is not permitted to demand this and frankly he shouldn't be permitted to demand this. Civll Rights are "rights" and they are not conditional on having the proper paper work.

Ms. Lou believes that legions of people are cheating the system by pretending their tricked out pets are service dogs. But if you watch enough courtroom dramas on TV you will likely notice her evidence is what they call "heresay" on "Law & Order"--which means she's getting her information second hand. Back in 2009 she wrote:

"The legitimacy and training of service dogs has come up a lot recently, and many of the cases do not have clear solutions. But what about when someone is consciously taking advantage of the privileges granted to service dogs?

With the USDAA Cynosport World Games coming up in Scottsdale, Ariz., I’ve been talking to many of the local competitors about how they’re traveling with their dogs. Some are caravanning in their RVs and others are reluctantly putting their pups in cargo.

One of the more seasoned competitors mentioned that while she dutifully puts her dogs in cargo, she always sees fellow competitors passing their pups off as service dogs on the plane."

I have no doubt that Ms. Lou's source did in fact see dog show competitors bringing dogs on an airplane by asserting they were service dogs. But what I DO doubt, is the rhetorical device whereby a general truism is asserted based on limited evidence. Usually that limited evidence is framed as a leading question--one that's designed to trigger strong emotions. One of the best ways to do this is by asserting that someone is cheating the rest of us honest folk. The device is almost always a fallacy. Ronald Reagan's famous stump speech about "welfare queens" was entirely made up.

Let's slow down. Let's breathe.

Are non-disabled people passing themselves off as having disabilities. Yes. Just drive to your local pharmacy and try to find a handicapped parking space. Then hang around and watch the exceptionally fit college kid come out and hop in the car that's hogging the reserved spot. This makes your blood boil. Mine too. One of my best friends is a wheelchair user. He struggles with this issue all the time. In general terms people like to cheat. They will use disability status as a means to an end just as they'll pretend to be working for a charity or raising money for a youth group. As all veteran cheaters know, the best gambit involves stealing from kind people. Back in the very early days of American film making one of the most popular plots involved "fake" beggars who pretended to be blind. Those early movies were little morality plays and the villain always received his due. We know of course that even today there are beggars faking disabilities. What I mean to suggest is that this idea of falsifying disability is one that is both venerable and loaded with pathos--the Greek term for ungoverned emotion. Pathos will always cloud better judgment. Or as the great Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai once wrote: "People who live in houses in fog believe the whole world is covered in fog."

Once you imagine the world is filled with cheaters you will see cheaters everywhere. Still, emotions aside, is it possible that Ms. Lou's "source" who saw people bringing dogs on a plane was actually seeing dog show competitors who had invisible disabilities? This is indeed possible. Ms. Lou's source cannot know by default that the people she saw were cheaters. And perhaps they were. But its also possible some of them weren't. In the arena of human rights I like to side with individual and collective dignity. I don't want people to be required to prove their disabilities just because there's a lurking scofflaw around the corner. Let me be more specific: I fly at least twice a month. I am not seeing large numbers of dogs on planes. In fact, 99% of the time I'm the only one with a service dog on the flight. The sheer numbers of flight attendants who tell me they've never seen a guide dog before is rather telling. In truth there are only about 10,000 active guide dog teams in the United States. Guide dog teams are a very very small minority group.

While there are no requirements that a person with a disability must produce doggy documentation there is a subtext in the ADA which states rather clearly that a service dog can be denied access to a public space if its not under firm control. One needs to think about that. If a cheater did get on an airplane with a fake service dog, he or she could still be denied a seat if the dog wasn't really a working dog. What I'm getting at here is that fakery or not, there are controls. Perhaps they are not perfect. A person pretending to have PTSD and pretending to have a trained service dog could indeed get on an airplane. But they wouldn't stay long if the dog had no manners. And I for one wouldn't want to humiliate a person who actually "has" PTSD. While I respect Ms. Lou's umbrage that dog show people may be faking that they have disabilities I'm not at all convinced this is a real epidemic. Moreover, I believe that suspicions tendered toward people with invisible disabilities do a lot more harm than the occasional dog show cheater. I think perspective is crucial in all areas of public life.

I also think that the Bark's decision to use a photograph of a legitimate service dog alongside Ms. Lou's latest post is unfortunate.

I like "The Bark" and I have written for them on occasion. Still, when writing about disability and public access I expect more than pathos. Much more.

Originally posted at http://www.planet-of-the-blind.com/.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 5 2013 |

VERY beautifully written. Thank you for your words! As someone with an invisible disability and a small-breed service animal, I thank you for writing this. I wouldn't mind seeing 1000 fake service animals to every 1 legitimate team if it means that the 1 disabled person was able to have assistance from his or her service animal without the ridicule and skepticism of the public.

Enough with the "fake service dog" stories. They're causing people to think that every team is fake, creating havoc in the lives of people like me. These stories are causing far more harm than good.

Submitted by Theresa | May 2 2013 |

Service dog handlers can sometimes be their own worst enemy. I have a legitimate service dog for an invisible disability. We have been followed and harassed by other "service dog" teams, ironically with badly behaving dogs, that my dog ignored as she should. Where did this "I got mine" attitude come from? I had to tell one woman with a marginally behaving "service dog" to step away from us or I would call the police - she accused me of "faking" because I didn't look disabled. To be honest she didn't look disabled, but that isn't my call to make, her medical history is her personal business, as is mine. In 10 years I've seen exactly one fake. One. A small white fluffy dog swirling around a woman's feet at the grocery store, defecating in the aisle. The rest have been well behaved dogs with appropriate public manners. I would never dream of accosting them and asking questions I have no business asking.

Submitted by Heather | May 17 2013 |

Fake service dogs are a huge problem, but its much more common in Walmart, Home Depot and at yuppy cafes, than on airplanes. Most people, quite frankly don't have the balls to risk faking on an airplane where the FAA is involved, and by the way the FAA regulations actually trump the ADA within the secure area of airports and on actual flights, and they can require documentation, unlike all other public situations which are covered by the ADA. I do think that the author has brought a real problem to our attention, however, its prevolence and the degree of damage it does is debatable. The biggest contributers to access rights violations are: service dog handlers themselves who do not demand excellent public behavior from their dogs, service dog handlers who show ID instead of standing their ground, service dog handlers who give in and give up and leave rather than calling the police, pet owners who insist on bringing their little ill-behaved yip dogs into stores and restaurants, business owners who do not speak or read English sufficently to read copies of the law provided by service dog handlers or to understand the verbal explanations of service dog handlers and police officers, and employees improperly trained by their managers and the business owners in the state and federal laws pertaining to service dogs, and service dog handlers and service dog trainers who are ignorant of and therefore anti-owner-trained dogs. These factors cause the bulk of access issues, and will not be solved by any national regestration process. To the non-disabled public. "No one requires you to produce shot records for your infant to take them to the supermarket, makes you produce citizenship papers when going to the movies, insists on seeing your medical history when you go into a restaurant, or asks for your driver's licence to allow you to even enter a cafe or amusement park. So do not so blithely suggest that disabled individuals should be required to do something equivolent."

Submitted by Anonymous | February 11 2013 |

This is why, in my restaurant, ALL service animals are banned except those for the blind. I have had a few psychos say they would sue, yet none of them ever do. NO more fakes in my place, ever.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 17 2013 |

you cant ban all service dogs because of a few fakes thats a horrible thing to do. You should just tell the people with fake dogs that are misbehaving that you simply cannot have that in your establishment and by law if its a service dog it should be well behaved you know? dont prosecute everyone

Submitted by Anonymous | February 20 2013 |

That's horrible. I have a legitimate disability and my service dog is currently in training. I know I'd be really upset and disappointed in mankind if I found out I couldn't visit a restaurant just because the owner didn't see my disability.

And just so you know, not all disabilities are readily visible. My service dog is being trained to respond to my Dysautonomia. I look perfectly healthy, except for the fact that at any time with very little warning I can pass out, lose my vision, develop breathing problems, and many other symptoms. My dog will be trained to respond in ways that can save my life and that's not possible if he's tied up outside (not that that would ever happen but I hope you see my point.)

It's not safe for people with legitimate reasons to have service animals to be without them. I'm always with someone right now, my service dog will allow me to go places alone and live alone. And as an otherwise healthy 23 year old woman who has to live with her family for safety reasons, that will be absolutely amazing.

Submitted by Heather | May 17 2013 |

What do you mean "couldn't" go to that restaurant? Disappointed? No, wrong, honey, it's pissed off, not disappointed, and it's not couldn't, it's go anyway then call the police on this misinformed excuse for a restaurateur. You need to learn to get justifiably angry, not just sad or disapointed, and there is nno can't, there is only, the agrivation of calling the cops on someone who is violating the law. I am glad that you will be getting a service dog to increase your independence, but if you can't or won't stand up for your rights, every time, in an assertive, but not agressive manner, than any independence use of this dog will get you will be tempered by the barriers others put in front of you and your dog that you are unwilling to fight. Good luck.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 26 2013 |

As a service dog user and trainer, I would love to visit your restaurant. When you try to kick me out I would call the police, as you would be violating my Civil Rights. If the police did nothing then I would turn them into the ADA enforcement unit. I like good food and I have every right to have it as an able bodied person does. My service dog is about the same as my wheelchair, both needed.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 26 2013 |

i hate confrontations... but i will tell you this; i do have a service dog and I'm not blind... i would definitely sue you and expose your business on media for breaking a state and federal law. its really sad that a business owner would have this position. Not every disability are visible. i would advise you to read the ADA law and be more careful with your judgments. ;)

Submitted by Maren | March 23 2013 |

I appreciate the gravity of fake service dogs is huge for store owners, but you are breaking Federal Law still.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 9 2013 |

While I understand where you are coming from as a business owner in the food industry, it is illegal to ban any service dog from your establishment if you are in the US.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 26 2013 |

The problem is that people with invisible disabilities, like myself, who have a REAL service dog, are paying a big price everyday because of fakers. Not just in airlines, its happening everywhere. Something has to be done to protect the ones in need who really need their services dog.

Diabetic t1 (diabetic alert dog)

Submitted by Anonymous | March 25 2013 |

This is true, there should be some type of identification card that does not reveal your disability, because some people do get offended. However, if you have nothing to hide, then it should not worry you. Even as a guide dog user, I still get plenty of ignorant people even though being blind is an obvious disability. It is amazing all the fake equipment you can get online. But that does not mean it is an excuse to deny someone with a disability access to your business. It is sad when you do have to go as far as threatening to sue people. I've had to do that many times, and surprisingly it works just threatening to call the police Or the department of justice and then the person gives up. Sorry, but as a blind person or any type of disabled person, you should not have to leave your dog because of the ignorance out there. Quite frankly the fake service dog handlers are not helping. I love how people give us that attitude, yet they can just hop into their car and go where ever they like without an issue. Of course as someone already mentioned taking handicap spots as well. Must be nice! And for the idiots out there who tell us to mind our business, sorry but you bringing your fake little pets as a service dog into a restaurant is our business, because where the once we have to put up with that. Don't get mad or jealous just because you can't bring fluffy with you. You don't have to go and apply for a job and get denied because you're in a wheelchair or some other issue. Quite frankly those people are probably just insecure if they feel like they need to have fluffy everywhere with them. Of course we love our service dogs, but at the same time I am sure some of you feel awkward in public when you realize that you are in a store with a dog. Someone did already point that out, but You know that you are waiting for someone to come up to you and pick a fight about it. It really is irritating!

Submitted by Laura | June 14 2013 |

There's an excellent reason to restrict access by dogs.
It's an allergy problem. Most allergies to dogs don't cause anything worse than congestion.
But some people have much worse allergies. I have extreme long-term reactions – if I take a breath of the air around a dog, I get sick for about 5 days. I can't think well – it's like I have mud in my head. I'm not able to do much for several days. If a dog is in an enclosed space with me, I'll likely get sick. Some people have breathing problems such as asthma when they are exposed to dogs, and they may have to go to the ER.
Actually the FDA law – Food Code 2009 6-501.115 – only allows service animals in food establishments if they do not cause a health or safety hazard. When a dog makes me sick for 5 days, or makes someone else go to the ER with asthma, I think that's a health hazard. I am desperately trying to avoid allergic reactions for my long-term health, but with dogs popping up everywhere I go, I'm sick a lot of the time.
I get the best medical treatment I can, but I still have very severe allergies. I have the best facemask available, but facemasks don't filter out much dog dander (the allergen dogs put out). The dander particles are too small and a lot of them go right through the mask.

Submitted by Edward Clark | June 19 2013 |

So it is illegal for even a police officer to as for certification even if the dog presents abosolutely no danger to human safety of property damage.

Submitted by Jaynah long | August 29 2013 |

I have cystic fibrosis but am not qualified to get a service dog. I want to get a vest that says she's in training but i don't want to disrespect real service dogs. I need her with me though because sometimes i cough so hard i almost pass out and she retrieves my inhaler for me.

Submitted by Cliff | October 11 2013 |

A growing problem with no easy solution?

How foolish are people? This is a growing problem because the EASY solution that would have prevented it to begin with is not allowed by law. That simple solution is simply this: PROVE IT'S A SERVICE ANIMAL! "No papers? No dog."

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