Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fake Service Animals

              As as service dog owner there is always difficult aspects of being able to get access to things. Sadly where I live is uneducated most of the time about service dog laws and what questions they can ask a service dog owner. There are two questions they can ask you legally. Is that dog used for a disability? and what tasks or jobs does the dog assist you with. They can never ask what your disability is. The law that gives me rights to access public places I support but there is sadly too many loop holes. Most businesses are afraid to ask a team to leave if they misbehave but they have a legal right too. I know they are afraid of a suit being filed against them. In Austin I have seen a great deal of fake service animals in fact that is the problem with the loop holes in the laws it really limits what can be done with fake service animals. The sad part is that their our companies that sell vests and patches to pet owners so they can fake their pet is a service animal. This has created a great deal of issues for me personally.

                I shop at a local grocery store where I see this woman and what she says is her service animal but I know it really is not. The dog has no vest and most service dog teams will identify their dog with a vest to make access easier and it is also helpful for the general public to know. This woman's dog lunged at Duchess on two occasions and a trained service dog should not be dog aggressive. I believe this woman does have a disability but taking your pet in without training is not considered a service animal. I know quite a few people who spent two years training their service animals and it is obvious by their behavior that they have been trained where this woman's dog is not. I know I was approached by the manager because they said they could tell that Duchess is a trained service animal and asked me what they could do about the fake service animal. I told them that they can ask the woman to leave if the dog is ill behaved or they can ask the two questions about what tasks they perform and if the animal is a service animal. The management told the woman that her dog was not behaving appropriately and she needed to leave and she did. I know I would not leave a store during a public access issue until it is resolved. Most service dog teams try to educate and reason with a person if there is a public access issue. I know I fight for my rights very regularly but at the end of the day I take this right seriously.

                Fake service dogs means more fighting for my rights. Business owners not trusting real service dog teams. I depend upon Duchess for my freedom and I need her with me. I think pet owners take this for granted how much a disabled person could need their dogs. I know most people think it would be so wonderful to take your dog everywhere but really it is a large amount of work and not glamorous as most people think. I know a large local grocery chain used to ask me to leave every time I entered the store because their was a fake service dog that had done damage to the store and I finally had to threaten to file a suite against them. I can understand their frustration but I also educated them on service animals, questions they can ask and ways to spot fake service animals. They did retrain their staff and I have not had an issue since but that really made life difficult to have to explain several different employee's that Duchess was a service animal. The funny part is that she was very well behaved and they still wanted her to leave because of the previous experiences.


  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences. My service dog is small. People often assume he is fake because of his size alone. I also find kids to be more polite than adults. The kids will ask before petting him, which is ok. Adults rarely ask before reaching for him.

    1. I have friends with small service dogs so I know they can be real service dogs but I also know business's tend to think they are fake more often. I know which can be tough. I know kids are really great at asking but when I first got Duchess I thought the kids would be the issue but its the adults.