“People who buy or in some cases just create bogus ‘Service Dog’ or ‘In Training’ vests or tags are creating a major problem with people who have trained service and support dogs like Canines For Independence train and provide to disabled people. Service dogs are very well trained, calm and stay out of site in public places. People who bring their untrained dogs into public spaces and in some cases remove leashes are leading to major backlash as attacks on other dogs and people are increasing due to untrained animals in busy places. As a result we are happy to see that training is taking place to help owners and proprietors of businesses that want to provide proper service to all their customers without potential discrimination being trained in how to identify true service dogs from non trained or non accredited canines. This is good for all involved and we applaud the efforts people are taking to allow truly qualified people from not being judged badly by a growing group of people that are causing bad blood with untrained dogs passed of as trained service and/or support dogs.”
Please Read the Story of Ryan and Gander Below
“A new scam ends up hurting those who need these animals most”
Ever since Ryan Honick received his service dog from Canine Companions for Independence, his life has improved dramatically.
“Everywhere I go, I go with my best friend,” said the Washington, D.C., resident.
Honick has cerebral palsy and has trouble getting around.
“The things most people take for granted, like picking up something that has fallen, can be challenging at times,” he said.
Even though Honick uses a wheelchair and has his service dog, Pico, a Labrador retriever, at his side, cabs in his neighborhood occasionally pass him by.
“They see Pico and me waiting in front of my house and continue onward without us,” he said.
Honick thinks that’s because cab drivers don’t want dog hair in their cars. He says he is usually welcomed at restaurants and other places of business.
But Honick also believes an increasing number of people are trying to pass off their canine friends as service dogs, when the animals are far from it. The situation is making life a little tougher for those who absolutely need their service dogs by their side, especially those with disabilities who are considered “invisible.”
Lon Hodge, a Vietnam veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, goes everywhere with his service dog, Gander, a labradoodle. But just the other day, a police officer told him he couldn’t enter Lake County Forest Preserve, a park just outside of Chicago, with his dog.
“Pets aren’t allowed in the park,” Hodge told LifeZette. “And to be fair, two people before me tried passing their dogs off as service dogs. What should have given those animals away was the dogs’ poor behavior. They were barking and running around off-leash.”
Hodge informed the officer, who was new to the area, that Gander wasn’t his pet. “He’s my service dog — a big difference,” he said. He explained that Gander was trained by Assistance Dogs International, is always by his side, and is extremely well behaved.
After observing Gander’s calm demeanor compared to that of the two previous dogs, the officer let them enter the park.
Another time, Gander was attacked by a Chihuahua wearing a “working vest.”
“The veteran who owned the dog proudly admitted he purchased a vest and laminated credentials online for his Chihuahua,” said Hodge. “By looking at the dog’s behavior, it was clear to see he wasn’t a true service dog.”
It’s easy to obtain fake service dog vests and papers online. All you need is a credit card or check. (As part of reporting this article, I tried to buy a working dog vest and laminated card online. I live with indoor cats. I don’t want to pass them off as service animals. I just wanted to see how easy it was to buy these items. The companies I contacted didn’t ask for a doctor’s note. They just wanted my money.)
“Gander is not my pet,” emphasized Hodge. “He’s a service dog. He keeps me calm and when we go to a new place, he checks out the rooms and makes sure I feel safe. And I’m responsible for him.”
In contrast, traveling with a pet is akin to being with a small child 24/7. And some people do not want to be separated from their pets. They take them to grocery stores, on errands around town, to outdoor restaurants.
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service dogs as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. The ADA states that service dogs are not pets.
So how can a business owner or employee spot a real service dog? Let’s use Gander as an example. As a labradoodle, he’s not a traditional service dog breed. Once, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, or German shepherds were service dogs. Today, a service dog can be a labradoodle, other breeds, or even a mutt.
“It’s the behavior,” Hodge said. “I walk into a restaurant with Gander and he immediately lies down under the table. Some people don’t even know he’s there.”
Strangers approach Hodge all the time telling him they have never seen such a well-behaved dog. The same can be said of Pico, Honick’s service dog.
Hodge runs Operation Fetch, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has worked with law enforcement officials, state park employees, and even Starbucks executives on how to spot a real service dog, and how to treat people with service dogs. His most recent engagement was earlier this month with 400 hoteliers in Las Vegas. And by his side, always — is Gander.
Story By; Michele C. Hollow at LifeZette
Forward by Fred, here is a list of the top uses of trained service and support dogs