Service Dog Fraud – Quest for the Vest

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A word about service dogs: you probably don’t have one.

Want to drive me crazy?  Just ask, “Where can I get one of those vests so I can take my dog everywhere?”  This question is almost always asked by someone without a disability and followed with the explanation that “I just don’t like being alone in public” or “I want to take her with me into the store” or “He’s with me all the time anyway…everyone loves him.”

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Many of us enjoy and are comforted by our dog’s continuous company.  With their loyal dispositions and eagerness to participate in whatever we’re doing, dogs provide us with fun and emotional support. The notion that these naturally occurring qualities of the pet dog somehow entitle him to the appellation “service dog” is both naïve and inappropriate.

The vest-seekers never want to know how to actually train an authentic service dog.  On occasion, they might inquire about “certification,” but their eyes quickly glaze over at the complexity of the task.  No, no, no.  Just give me the vest.

I’ve seen the service dog moniker subjected to a full spectrum of abuse: from the housewife who wants to keep a poodle in her purse while shopping, to the inebriated man belligerently insisting he and his dog be admitted to the county fair.  In the latter case, not only was the man drunk, but his dog was off-leash, hiking his leg on everything and growling at passersby.  His homemade “service dog” vest had been cut from an old shirt.

Service dogs perform actual, specific tasks for people with disabilities: signal dogs for the deaf, guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs for those in wheelchairs, alert dogs for insulin-dependent type 1 diabetics, seizure response dogs, assistance dogs for persons with certain psychiatric disabilities, and medical alert dogs. These are not pets – they are highly trained, working partners that have been liberating people with disabilities since World War 1.

The homemade “vesters,” claiming bogus disorders while masquerading their untrained pets as service dogs are no different from those who fake a condition in order to park in handicapped zones. Bolstered by phony websites professing that any dog can be declared a service dog – hey, all you need is a doctor’s note! – they threaten to erode the access to public places legitimate service dog organizations have fought so hard to earn.

Most real service dogs have been carefully selected by professionals for their suitable temperament, health and aptitude for their necessary work.  They have received intensive training, often completing a 2-year training program before being assigned to their person.  It is a painstakingly sophisticated process and it’s unconscionable to think one can simply slap a T-shirt on the family dog and stride through any public place with impunity.  It devalues the work of true service dogs.

Can you train your own service dog?  Yes. Maybe.  I respect anyone with a genuine need for a service dog who seeks to legitimately elevate their dog’s status from pet to service animal.  Contact the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) for information.

The process outlined by the IAADP is extensive and time-consuming.  Dogs must have a solid temperament, impeccable manners and be proficient in basic obedience.  They must receive a minimum of 120 hours of schooling with 30 hours dedicated to working in public places under the supervision of a program’s qualified trainer and perform at least three identifiable physical tasks Click Here for the benefit of the disabled partner.

See also:

I’m not the only one plagued by the vest-seeking crowd.  People with real service dogs are regularly tormented with “You’re so lucky, I wish I could take my dog everywhere,” “Can I pet your dog?” and of course the dreaded, “where do I get one of those vests?”

What’s behind this casual and intrusive attitude toward service dogs?  Thirty years ago, the only service dogs most of us encountered were Guide Dogs assisting the blind.  We instinctively knew it might be rude or even harmful to distract a blind person with questions about his or her dog and back then, predominant service dog breeds were impressive, formidable-looking German shepherds and Labradors whose sheer size often commanded respect.

Not so anymore.  With the advent of innovative organizations like Dogs for the Deaf who evaluate and adopt shelter dogs into their training programs, the service dog field now employs all manner of breeds. It is common in public and social arenas to see “Everydogs” performing a wide range of tasks and assisting people with a much larger variety of disabilities. Hence they frequently look like the pets we have at home.  Since not all disabilities are obvious, the public has developed a false sense of familiarity, even entitlement, regarding service dogs.

This new attitude is aggravating. Yes, a modern-day service dog might resemble “Benji,” but when you stop to consider his skill level, he’s no less impressive and formidable than his heroic predecessors.  Although his human partner may not be blind, it is still impolite and sometimes dangerous to interfere with the pair’s routine.  Those relying on service dogs for their freedom often find themselves forced to run the gauntlet of curious strangers every time they leave the house.  As a side note, while many people with disabilities find constant overtures exhausting, the opposite may be true of “vesters,” who seem to crave the attention generated by being in public with their pets.

If you’re smitten by the sight of someone with a working service dog, offer the team a smile and keep moving.  Play with your own dog and be thankful you have the luxury of enjoying her as a delightful companion.

As a dog fanatic, I’d love to see pet dogs welcome in more places throughout the community.  If you agree, then take steps to change public opinion about dogs by training your own, picking up after him, teaching him the skills to be a good canine citizen and courteous neighbor.  And please, don’t call him a service dog if he isn’t one.

Resources: Canine Companions for Independence – Delta Society Dogs4Diabetics Dogs for the Deaf – Guide Dogs for the Blind International Association of Assistance Dog Partners –


Carla Jackson
Carla Jackson is a professional pet dog trainer and owner of Jackson Ranch for Dogs, a kennel-free boarding and training facility. She specializes in private training, behavior consultations, puppy socialization and day training. You can find Jackson Ranch on Facebook, visit the Jackson Ranch website, or call (530)365-3800.
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75 Responses

  1. Avatar Jonessa says:

    I would like to be a "parking lot" supervisor….just cruising the parking lots of various stores around town, looking for those jerks who illegally use the handicapped parking spaces.

    I'm always seeing some teenager using gramdma's car with a handicap sticker so she can parking 100 feet closer to the store.

    And the guy I saw yesterday at Costco parking his big honkin' truck so crooked that the car next to him couldn't get out.

    Seems the "me" factor is far outweighing common sense.

  2. Avatar Pat j. says:

    Many people with disabilities have a problem admitting they have a problem. I feel the requirements are way too restrictive.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      This so true and that disabled person has the right not talk about. It's illegal for anyone to ask one about their disability or ask why they have a SD. Also, if a person cont. to harass the disabled person, the disabled person has the rights to have then arrested.

  3. Avatar Sheila Barnes says:


    Thank you so much for posting this. I agree that this service dog thing has gotten way out of control. I know there are legitimate uses for service dogs, but when I see an obvious "fakery", I get quite upset. My daughter raised (I co-raised) two Guide Dog puppies. Socializing and training these puppies was an amazing – and sometimes – exhausting job. We did take the puppies into stores, on trains, even onto an airplane at the airport. We were able to take these dogs where other dogs were not allowed. However, the "jacket" that each dog wore was assigned to them and we had to take papers from the Guide Dog association in San Rafael everywhere we went to prove that the dog was, indeed, a puppy in training. I have noticed in the years since I helped raise Lira (who went on to graduate from formal training and worked as a service dog for a woman going blind from diabetes, before she was retired and came back to live in the North State with good friends), that more and more people carry their dogs around with them in stores, put them in the front baskets of shopping carts or just let them walk around with a leash, and I know these people are not legitimate service dog owners. Just the other day I saw a small dog wrapped in a baby shawl being carried around a local grocery store. The woman was handling her dog and then handling fresh produce – sometimes picking up a potato or tomato and then putting it back if she decided she didn't want to buy it. When I spoke to an employee about my concerns, I was told that they were no longer allowed to ask for proof that the dog was a service dog. I explained that I would no longer be able to shop at the store. How was I to know that the dog had the necessary vaccinations or perhaps had fleas? The employee was sympathetic and agreed, but said he could do nothing about the situation. It is so frustrating because having worked with true service dog organizations and knowing the hard work that is put into training these dogs and the amazing contributions these dogs can provide along with being such amazing animals, I hate to see these organizations (and the dogs) denigrated by uncaring, selfish and ignorant people.

    • Avatar Diane says:

      Sheila – I disagree that you "know" certain dogs are NOT legal service animals. I have my dog on a leash sometimes, I put her in the front cart basket and sometimes carry her. SHE IS a very NEEDED service dog. I do have her in a purse (rarely on a blanket) in the cart. I will use a blanket if carrying her through the store to prevent loose hair from falling off. I do bath and brush before going out. I do carry ID due to it makes my life easier and more unquestioned. BUT — I would hate to think I KNOW when another person has an unseen disability or disabilities. My Service Dog works several different functions from medical alert to emotional support such as panic attacks. OKAY, on a good day you would never know I have any issues — but then I notice my dog alerting and know I have to take care of my medical issues, OR if I get upset and feel the world closing in on me – she will do her job of pressing against my face so that I know I have to focus and control my emotions or fears. She does several other functions. She is my life to be in the outside world.

      When we make new laws to stop a FEW fakers, we restrict our own ability to fully function in the world with our servcie animal. Some government agency will restrict it to their certification and then charge fees most of us disabled can NOT afford. My service dog meets and EXCEEDS all of the different tests and qualifications she has had to pass. She NEVER barks, engages others, makes a mess, or anything but her job. MOst people don't even know she is with me and is shocked she is real… when all is well. I would rather spend my time shopping stress free, than needing to explaining why I am allowed in a store. I have CHOSEN to have vest and or ID tags at all times to prevent problems. I don't like the questions …. it is rude. I have started asking them about their medical issues. Some gets the point some do not. Life is hard work it shouldn't be punishment.

      • Avatar Amanda says:

        I am glad you choose to have your dog wear a vest and carry ID. How else are people to know that your dog is actually trained to be a service dog. It is one of the ways to prevent people from just deciding they want to take their dog with them everywhere. I work in a little shop. People want to bring their little dogs, sometimes big dogs, in with them all of the time. Do I love dogs? Yes! Do I want to be cleaning up when the dog urinates on the floor. No! Especially after it starts happening all of the time. So no dogs allowed. Unless, you are able to prove to me that your dog is trained and not going to cause a disruption to my other customers. No one is asking you for a list of all your medical problems. I do not believe it is rude of me to ask for a little bit of assurance that your dog will be okay in my shop. Also, there are not just a few fakers. There are many. Just ask anyone who has raised a guide dog puppy or other service dog. People come up all the time asking where they can get a special "coat" for their dog. It really can be an issue.

        Using all caps does not get your point across any clearer. Just POINTING that out.

        • Avatar Cole says:

          If you are requiring someone to prove their dog is an SD as a business owner you are breaking the law.
          You really should read up on the law, because if I came in with my SD and you “required” certification or proof, I could file a DOJ complaint.
          You may only ask 2 questions:
          1)Is that a service dog required because of a disability?
          2) What tasks or work does the dog perform?
          If they answer those two questions you must let them in.
          “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.”

    • Avatar Heather says:

      Hello, I have a service dog that is in training right now to detect certain molds and dust which if I am exposed to can cause me respiratory issues which can and has hospitalized me for weeks at a time. Because of fakes I have had a harder time with getting proper license and tags from the county. They have given them to me but after proof of disability. The dog is fully socialized and is in the process of it's specialized scent training in which I cannot be involved in because of my illness. I would love to grab those people and tell them what they have caused for their pet fluffy.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      How do you know and judge if they are SD or not? For all you know they are SD for Disab. You can’t see. Yes, you may have worked with these SD places. But, does not make you a know it all expert,.. For all you know throes dogs are indeed service dogs!

  4. Avatar Benita Epstein says:

    Great article, Carla. Thanks for posting it. Who is the pug in the picture?

  5. Avatar stasia says:

    Thanks for the story on a interesting issue. I wonder if there aren't more implications… could snakes, birds, pot-bellied pigs, etc, also be considered service animals, in that they provide companionship and emotional support? I suspect all you would have to do is find the right doctor to provide the note. (Just imagine what meeting that person in the grocery store might be like.)

    Also, does a service animal designation allow someone to ignore landlord requirements, like a no-pets rule?

    This was an interesting idea to think about. Good work.

    • Avatar Todd Smith says:


      The ADA specifically states that animals that provide only emotional support and/or companionship are not designated as "service animals" and the laws that protect legitimate service animal handlers do not apply to handlers of companion or emotional support animals.

      As to the "no pets" issue, legitimate service animals are not legally considered "pets", so all restrictions as to weight, size and "no pet" aspects do not apply.

      For more info, see:

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      Yes, other types of animals can be service animals. We had a to deal with a a case a while back about a blind person that had a Mini Moo a breed of Dwarf Cow about the size of the mini horses that are used as Guild Dogs like the mini horses in NJ. Anyhow, this person lived in a condo and the management said NO COW! The Blind lady sued the section 8 and won and she got to keep her Guild Cow. The cool thing about this cow the breed is bred down mini dairy cow breed and it gives her milk as well. She shares the extra milk for FREE with other residents. This lady is on SSI and have you seen the pice hike on milk back east,..She's lucky to her lil Girl Mena!

  6. Avatar Robb says:

    Great job, Carla!

    I'm old enough to remember when service dogs were a rarity, now it seems that there are so many that store owners have just quit checking. I had a student once who kept bringing in an "unpapered" dog that growled at many people. Half the class had to sit on one side of the room-out of fear, and the dog owner insisted that she needed the dog in class for her emotional well-being. Finally, campus security escorted her and the dog out of the room. The student was indignant, but most of the class breathed a sigh of relief.

    • Avatar Todd Smith says:


      ANY animal, regardless of "service dog" status or not, can legally be removed from the public venue if it demonstrates behavior as you describe. Any form of aggression or misbehavior on the part of a service dog is grounds to legally eject the dog (but not the person) from any public venue.

      • Avatar Lupe Manocal says:



        There been too many false claims of so called dangerous service dogs just because some people just don’t want dogs in their place of business no matter what!

      • Avatar Cindy says:

        No! It's a service dog no matter what; one can't define the disabled person's needs from using it, even if it growls. The only time this applies if it attempts to bite someone. So, No he had no grounds to remove this person or her dog, especially no grounds to demand papers on the dog. a person's disability is a private matter, and under law a disabled person has every right not to volunteer their personal private reasons about their disability and why they have a SD and the personal private information about the SD either. We in ADA have a name for people like this Robb, We call them “Emotional & Rights Rapiers of People With Disabilities” because people like Robb emotional raped people with disabilities and raped her of her rights from using her SD as well as her rights of getting an education.

    • Avatar Lupe Manocal says:

      Dear Robb,

      Under Gov'nt and ADA Laws a Service Dog dose need any type of Service Dog Papers if the dog was official trained(It’s up to the trainer or owner to get said papers if they want too). You stated the Service Dog belonged to student that was an “OFFICALLY” emotional mental disability when you used the word indignant (Guessing she also was on some disability welfare and proudly being cared for at disability Group Home). This makes make think the Service Dog you claimed was growling at people was a “TRUE” Service Dog even if it was “Unpapered). Like I’ve said before even “Real” Service Dogs are “NOT REQURIED TO HAVE PAPERS” just trained to do their jobs?

      Wait a dam’n minute,….can I ask are you that teacher?!?!?!?! from Gavilan College in the South Bay of Santa Clara California? Because, I live in Livermore California, and I’m a Service Dog Puppy Raiser for a CCI, and remember in the early/mid 2000’s there was article in the San Mercury News when a Gavilan College female student with a mental disability which she also was Autistic but fictional. I remember the article saying something very similar to what you said here, A Gavilian College Art Teacher named Robert Peacock claimed. The article stated “OFFICALLY TRAINED SERVICE DOG WAS ACUSED OF BEING DANGEROUS TOWARDS STUDENTS IN CLASS BY ROBERT PEACOCK AN ART TEACHER AT GAVILAN COLLEGE LOCATED IN GILROY CALIFORNIA TO HAVE AN AUTISTIC STUDENT REMOVED FROM HIS CLASS AND WHICH ALSO LED TO STUDENT BEING EXPELLED FROM CAMPUS AND ARESSTED BY CAMPUS POLICE &SERVICE DOG INPOUNDED. THE SAID STUDENT HAD NO PROUBLEMS IN FALL SEMESITER WITH HER SERVICE DOG FOM THE COLLEGE. TO SAY THE SAID STUDENT DISPITE HER DISABLITITY WITH AUTISM SHE WAS TAKING CLASSES THAT WOULD ALLOW HER TO TRANSFER TO A 4 YEAR UNIVERSITY AND MADE THE DEAN’S LIST THAT FALL ” and it went to tell how Mr. Peacock had campus security remove disabled owner from the campus “Illegally” and jailed with false claims about the dog being dangerous and asked students to back his claim. I also saw at the end of the article where it stated one our CCI lawyers and one our CCI dog trainers visited this disabled person and the dog. CCI trainer stated that dog has “NOT DANGEROUS TOWARDS ANYONE, AND THE TRAINER BELIEVED THAT TEACHER MADE A FALSE CLAIME TO DISACRIMATE THE STUDENT BECAUSE HE DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH SOMEONE WITH AUTISM. MAYBE MR. PEACOCK FELT SHE WOULD BE ROBBED FROM LEARNING BECAUSE AUTISM IS STEROTYPED AS UNCONTROABLE BEHIVORAL PROBLEM” the article went on that there would be legal action towards Gavilan College. 3 months after Mercury first article came out a small follow up article came out stated that the student won the case against Gavilan College in Gilroy Ca in The Santa Clara County Supreme Court.

      There was a picture used in the article of the student with her Service Dog at Disneyland with Mickey Mouse with his arms around the student and her Service Dog. By the picture of the student you can tell by looking at her she was indeed autistic.

      Also, I would like to “NOTE” the Service Dog in question the newspaper picture was a Siberian Husky, a breed a of dog that is very known for its gentleness and non-dangerous temperament towards people even towards strangers. This why Siberian Husky breeders tell people if they are looking for a dog to be a watch dog, to get a Rottweiler. Also, Siberian Huskies are howlers and talkers, when they talk in low rumbling WooWoo grrr it often sounds like they are growling at you. After reading that Mercury News years ago, and this post by Robb this what I’ve came up with

      Robb, if the above is not you I’m sorry, but what you stated sound very closely similar to what I’ve read in the San Jose Mercury News so many years ago and that teacher was named Robert Peacock. But, I got this major gut feeling you are the one of the same person! You where in the wrong and your decimated the rights of using a Service Dog and their rights to too to a education (Even if it was an Art Class) you broke a federal law that protects this person’s rights. Personally I feel you should have lost your teaching license and should be imprisoned for you crime towards her and her dog! Also, I will your post is slandering and as well as Anti-Disabled and Anti-Service Dog Hate –Speech/Crime towards a Disabled person and her dog! I would like to mention there’s no stature of limitation when it comes legal action towards anyone that slanders make false statement like you have here towards this victim of your hate speech/crime. You may of posted this on the internet, and posted it in 2009, when if this person sees it, even 20 years from now I hope she files charges on you for your Hate Crime Speech towards her. With this all said done Sir, I wish you a good day because I have ZERO-Tolerance for people like yourself.

      • Avatar Cindy says:

        I remember this Gavilan College Case, because it was part of an ADA hotline education class about people with SD's we had last year. Yes, the dog was a Siberian Husky a dog if it wasn’t fixed and used as show dog, it might as well been a show dog. Ok, now I know what breed this teacher is talking about. I got to say did he know anything about dogs? Like you said this breed loves to talk, which sound like growling to people if they don’t know the breed’s personally. I had one of these dogs when I was child, That dog talked talked talked and never stopped because they are chatter boxes for dogs. I would also say when I mention SD’s like this Siberian Husky as a special SD for this person. His handler needs this dog daily at her side because she very mentally disturbed and was a cutter.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      This is pretty much the one side of the story, and I would like to hear the other half from the disabled person before making a judgment. Sadly often people don’t want an animal in their place of business no matter what! Legally, it’s not up to the business owner or in your case a teacher to determined if the dog is a service animal, dangerous or not, and if the person needs it or not. It’s not your place or business to do so or remove or tell a disabled person to leave if you decided you don’t want a dog in your place of business.

      • Avatar Cindy says:

        I agree and it was us the ADA that made this stricter rule to make sure the place of business is not pulling some BS to just get the SD out because the business owner just doesn’t want any dog there! There been plenty of businesses owners that been fine and jailed for their crime to their victims! As we speak a business man is sitting a FL jail right because he refused service a disabled person with a SD at his Coach Purse store he tried to claim the dog was dangerous and he asked the owner to leave.

  7. Avatar Darcie Gore says:

    Carla, as a disabled person that teams with my service dog, Bailey, I

    can't thank you enough for this article. A couple of things I

    would like to add:

    1) No matter what the reason, passing off any dog that is not

    specifically trained as per the Americans with Disability Act, state,

    and local laws is illegal (a federal offense) and carries Federal

    penalties. I believe the fine is $2,500 but it may have recently

    gone up to deal with this problem.

    2) A therapy dog, one that does visits to hospitals, schools, etc. Is

    NOT a service dog and does not have the same public access rights or

    requires anywhere near the same training. While Bailey happens to be

    both, the function and focus is totally different.

    Bailey is a whippet so people often ask, "Where did you get her

    jacket?" Or "I bought or made a service jacket for my dog for those

    times I don't want to leave him at home." It makes me want to

    scream! It certainly makes public access for those of us that

    have registered service dogs. If I don’t need to use the scooter

    that day, I am stopped more often, because Bailey doesn't look like

    the "typical" service dog.

    Any disabled person would trade their challenges in an instant for not

    having the "privilege” of having a dog with them 24/7. Remember,

    while service animals provide invaluable service, it is also a

    tremendous responsibility to make sure the animal is safe, comfortable

    and all their needs are met in a bazillion different environments

    (loud, quiet, hot, cold, hard floors, stairs raining, long periods at

    stay, traffic, distractions, crowded stores, cars, buses, elevators,


    Thanks again, Carla you don’t realize how much good you did today –

    especially in this paragraph;

    "If you’re smitten by the sight of someone with a working service dog,

    offer the team a smile and keep moving. Play with your own dog and be

    thankful you have the luxury of enjoying her as a delightful


    To Stasia

    If snakes, birds, pot-bellied pigs, etc, could be TRAINED to perform

    TASKS for the person that mitigates their disability, they could be a

    service animal. They would have to follow all the same rules.

    Companion/emotional support animals are NOT service dogs.

    ADA and Fair Housing ensures that a disabled person is not

    discriminated against because they need a service animal.

    • Avatar stasia says:

      Darcie: Thanks for the reply.

      So the critical issue is performing tasks? I say this because I remember reading a story about a boy with autism (and I might/probably have the details wrong) who had a dog that his family considered pivotal to the improvements in his social interaction. But it sounds to me that the dog was merely a calming influence. Would this dog be allowed on a city bus, a grocery store and school?

      Again, I think this is a fascinating topic. And by the way, I have a terrier adopted from the shelter who has no function other than to sleep on the couch and bark at the occasional cat.

      • Avatar Darcie says:

        Yes, it is the TASKS they perform, Check out this site for more info on service dogs for those with autism.

      • Avatar Carla Jackson says:

        Hi, Stasia,

        Dogs for the Deaf has just recently expanded its training program to include Autism Assistance Dogs for children and families living with autism. It’s a very new program and while it’s true the dogs do provide comfort and a feeling of safety, they too, are highly trained to perform specific tasks. Here’s a link to the Autism Program page on the Dogs for the Deaf website:….
        Thanks for reading!


        • Avatar Carla Jackson says:

          Oops, I forgot the other part of your question! Yes, the dog would be allowed on buses and in grocery stores IF he/she had been certified for public access.

        • Avatar stasia says:

          Darcie and Carla: Thanks for the thoughtful replies. For some reason this topic just got me thinking. Apparently I need some distraction from housecleaning before Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful holiday. (By the way, those are some darn cute pugs.) Stasia

    • Avatar Sue says:

      Hi Darcie,

      Re your comment "1) No matter what the reason, passing off any dog that is not
      specifically trained as per the Americans with Disability Act, state,
      and local laws is illegal (a federal offense) and carries Federal
      penalties. I believe the fine is $2,500 but it may have recently
      gone up to deal with this problem."

      Unfortunately, this is not accurate. The ADA does not provide penalties for people who would fraudulently claim that their pet is a service animal. You're welcome to call the ADA Hotline and verify this (yes I have). I personally believe that there *should* be such penalties, because the prospect of getting hit hard in the pocketbook might dissuade some pretenders. A few states have passed statutes that do provide such penalties.

      In response to Carla's original post:

      A few comments….

      I have been partnered with mobility service dogs for about 10 years now. My current SD is the grandson of my first, and I am currently training two of his offspring as service dogs. In your list of people that SDs provide assistance to, one notable exception was people who aren't in wheelchairs, but still need assistance with mobility. This might be due to arthritis, cardiac or respiratory issues, balance problems, MS or Parkinsons, etc. The help these dogs provide is a real key to keeping these people OUT of a chair, helping them avoid injuries, and extending their independence as much as possible.

      You described people with service dogs who are willing to talk to strangers about their dogs as' "vesters,” who seem to crave the attention generated by being in public with their pets.' While this could be true in some cases, I think it's counterproductive to make such broad statements. I most always will take the time to stop and answer questions for people. I consider it part of paying what I call my "civic rent." I can explain why some people have service animals, talk about the responsibilities of having a SD, and explain why they should ignore the dog so he can do his job without interference. I can also bring up the requirements that the ADA has established for SD use. When people ask me where they can get a vest, we chat a bit, and if it's a case of "I just want to take my doggie with me" then I can explain why they cannot and should not do that.

      It just makes sense to me that those of us who are most affected by the proliferation of pets being passed off as service animals need to be involved in the solution.

      I run into "vesters" now and then, usually identifying them because the dogs' behavior makes lack of training only too apparent. The most recent was a small Shih Tzu sort of dog, wearing a vest and riding in the child seat of a shopping cart. As I came out of an aisle with my SD, the dog in the cart started yapping and growling. The owner's reaction was to baby talk to the dog, "Now honey you know you should not talk like that," which had the predictable effect of just escalating the behavior. I turned into another aisle to give her an opportunity to get her dog under control, but when I came back around, there the pair was again, and the growling and barking began all over again. At that point I spoke to the woman and suggested she remove her dog from the store until he had been trained to behave appropriately. She seemed embarrassed and left the store.

      I also make it a point to help business owners and employees understand that while they are required to provide access for PWDs who are accompanied by service animals, they can also require the PWD to remove a dog who is menacing, growling, soiling, or being destructive.

      I agree… it's the "me-ism" or sense of entitlement that seems to be driving the problem of people taking pets into places where they should not by claiming their pets are SDs, but I really believe that instituting penalties for such behavior would make people think twice about it.

      Thanks for bringing it up Carla.

      • Avatar Chere McMillan, CPDT says:

        Hi Sue,

        I think that Carla’s use of the term “vesters” is referring only to the people who use a counterfeit SD vest, blanket, backpack, collar, harness, etc.

        I do agree with some of your comments, especially “It just makes sense to me that those of us who are most affected by the proliferation of pets being passed off as service animals need to be involved in the solution.” That is an excellent idea.

        While the ADA might not assess fines or punishment for people misrepresenting themselves and their dogs, individual states can. Following is the regulation for the state of California:
        365.7. Guide Dog–Fraudulent Representation as Misdemeanor.
        (a) Any person who knowingly and fraudulently represents himself or herself, through verbal or written notice, to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a guide, signal, or service dog, as defined in subdivisions (d), (e), and (f) of Section 365.5 and paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 54.1 of the Civil Code, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
        (b) As used in this section, "owner" means any person who owns a guide, signal, or service dog, or who is authorized by the owner to use the guide, signal, or service dog.

        I have observed several people (vesters) who obviously did not have a real service dog basking in the attention they received – negative or positive. It is unfortunate that some people take advantage of an absolutely necessary and wonderful program and use animals in the process.

      • Avatar Carla Jackson says:

        Hi, Sue,

        Thank you for your comment. I hope you will read my paragraph again:

        “Those relying on service dogs for their freedom often find themselves forced to run the gauntlet of curious strangers every time they leave the house. As a side note, while many people with disabilities find constant overtures exhausting, the opposite may be true of “vesters,” who seem to crave the attention generated by being in public with their pets.”

        To clarify: “Vesters” are NOT people with legitimate service dogs who are willing to chat with the public. Vesters, by my definition are the fakers – those without disabilities who attempt to pass off their pets as service dogs. They either make their vests at home or purchase them from fraudulent sources.

        I realize many people with authentic, trained service dogs are happy to play the role of Service Animal Ambassador to the public. Dogs4Diabetics, for example, encourages people partnering with their dogs to educate others whenever possible…and that’s wonderful. However, I look forward to the day when legitimate service dog teams are afforded the privacy and public acceptance to go about their day-to-day activities unmolested and free from the undermining effect of imposters.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      ADA dose see companion/emotional support animals with a person with any form of mental disablity as a Service Dog!

  8. Avatar Jim Dyar says:

    No, but seriously, where can I get one of those vests?
    Great post, Carla. Really fun, informative read. I look forward to your next one!

  9. Avatar Chere McMillan, CPDT says:


    This is an excellent and very timely article. You surely did manage to pack a lot of interesting and useful information into this column! I seem to get more than the usual amount of calls lately asking where is the “service dog vest store.”

    Unfortunately, businesses are confronted by rude people with untrained “service dogs” who insist on entering an establishment. This can be a health issue especially in markets and restaurants. Public safety can certainly be compromised if the dogs are not clean, not well socialized and untrained. And yes, there are circumstances when a dog and its handler can be asked to leave.

    I am afraid these inconsiderate people will make it more difficult for certified service dogs and their partners. The service animal program has come so far and overcome so many obstacles, it’s disheartening to think there are those who seek to defraud and take advantage of the public access allowed legitimate service dogs.

    It is my hope that something can be done to protect these valuable animals from becoming collateral damage from the actions of a few disrespectful people. Protecting the service dog programs that have made such an important contribution in the lives of those with disabilities is of utmost importance.

    As a dedicated, obsessive animal advocate, I am appalled when I see a dog being dragged around town and put in situations that he or she is not familiar with, trained for or comfortable with in the name of “service.”

    Thank you, thank you, Carla, for all you do for the dogs, and their people, in our community. Very well done!

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      May I ask if CCI and GDs for the blind made these great efforts to these great claims they make, why are they issuing out dogs with Hip Problems?

  10. Avatar Pat j. says:

    If you are so worried about germs maybe babies and small children with runny noses should be banned from grocery stores and restaurants. Hey, I'm only partly kidding!!

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      I agree with banning babies and kids from these places. A SD or a non-SD better trained then children. How many of you SD people had a child that knows better run up and touched your SD., even after you ask it not too?

  11. Avatar Todd Smith says:

    My wife gets the "Oh, it must be so nice to be able to take your dog friend everywhere with you" bit when she is out with her Guide all the time.

    Her reply:

    "I would give up my dog in a hot minute if doing so meant that my eyes would be able to work normally like yours do. Want to trade places now?"

    She is usually met with stunned silence. They just dont get it.

    The "normal" public just never will understand that it is not all about "taking their furry friend with them", it is about having the dog do something that the disabled person cannot do for and by themselves so that a better level of independence is achieved. But this simple concept is never realized by those who have not been challenged in the area of living with a disability.

  12. Avatar Judy Menzel says:

    Very interesting article. About a week ago, while at Disney World, I met a man and his family with their seizure response dog (the man is epileptic). Additionally, I was told the dog watches out for the family's 2 daughters who are deathly allergic to peanuts. If the dog smells a peanut near one of the girls, he removes it. I noticed the dog was hand-signal trained and the man told me he's also verbally trained and in time he will be further trained in two more languages — one for each of his daughters so no one can confuse the dog when he's with the girls. He will only respond to them in the language he's been taught to respond to for them. It was fascinating to watch the dog. He was not interested in me, or anyone else — he only had eyes for his family. What a comfort he must be to that family!

    • Avatar Chere McMillan, CPDT says:

      Judy, Thank You so much for sharing a first hand account of what these wonderful dog can do for their people. Observing a service dog "in action" is amazing.

  13. Avatar Reid says:

    Great article Carla!
    We recently saw a woman at Costco pretending to be visually impaired. She didn't have a service vest on the dog (not even a fake one). Her modus operandi was simply to walk arm in arm with her male companion, wearing dark sunglasses, with her "guide dog" next to her (on a regular leash). It's funny to see what lengths people will go to just to take their dog into a store with them. It definitely casts a bad light on legitimate service dogs.
    The thing that REALLY grosses me out, however, is when people take birds into stores with them (fortunately not very common). I don't care how cute they are, birds don't control their bowels and carry disease. Is there even such a thing as a service bird?

    • Avatar Todd Smith says:

      I have actually had folks who complained about me having the Guide dog pup we are raising in stores, because, as they said referring to me………" he aint blind".

      The pup is identified with the bright green vest issued by the organization we raise for, and we are always in the company of my wife, who has been a Guide user for 10 years (from the same organization). And even she has been questioned about her using her Guide because she doesnt fit the "profile" of how the general public thinks a blind person should behave…….. she isnt helpless, clumsy or incompetent, doesnt wear dark glasses, does have some usable vision, and can hear just fine.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      Not all GD's need be in harness to guild their blind owners; some are trained by the blind owners on a normal leash. ADA has a volunteer that is blind and after getting a bad GD with messed up hips from GDs for the blind. He got his new dog that some mutt that he trained himself. You never know that person might be really blind and their dog is a home trained GD

      As for birds, I 100% agree with that. My parents used take their parrot in the store until they where 89 from all the stores in our small town when I was kid. They drive 20 mins without the parrot to a store every week or few times a week or make do with the AM/PM in town. But, sadly a disabled person can stake claims on a Service Bird and you can now buy Birdie flight suits that catches bird dropping and you can have a SERVICE ANIMAL/ SERVICE BIRD FOR THE DISBALED patch sewed on the chest part of the flight suit. My mum is Diabetic and living in a new town with my dad, and still have the buzzard. If she takes it in the store and then told to leave she volunteer tells them she has disability and she uses the bird as Service Animal because the bird starts acting strange when her insulin is low.

  14. Avatar Darcie says:

    There was a question about fines here is some additional information:

    The ADA protects INDIVIDUALS with Disabilities – not the animal. There are other governing bodies at work here – including the Department of Justice, Penal Codes, and local laws.

    People often think thee ADA is the last word, not so. If State or local laws provide MORE protection, then laws are the level to enforce.

    For example, "Section 365.7 of the California Penal Code prohibits any person to knowingly and fraudulently representing himself or herself, through verbal or written notice, to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog, as defined in subdivisions (d), (e) and (f) respectively, of Section 365.5 of the Penal Code and paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 54.1 of the Civil Code, and that a violation of Section 365.7 of the Penal Code is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both(For the FIRST offense).

    The $2,500 figure I quoted was the Federal fine (DOJ) for public access denial – sorry for the confusion.

  15. Avatar Denise says:

    Redding in general has a dog problem! I mean, even at the Turkey Trot, people brought tiny dogs, huge dogs on leashes. What is the thought process there: hmmm, how can I possible add to the chaos of thousands of runners, kids and strollers? I know! I'll bring Fluffy!!!! If we're lucky he'll do a cute little doody!

    I am all for dogs running with the master, but…really?

  16. Avatar ElleBough says:

    My mother-in-law has a service dog. This dog is a chihuaha and weighs 10 pounds. I have no idea what this dog does for her, except that she insists on being the center of attention wherever she goes and I think the dog does that for her. She takes this dog to the grocery and it sits in the cart where babies sit. This is a dog that walks on the ground in its bare feet and probably steps in things that you and I don't want to think about. Thank god my grocery has those disinfectant wipes available as one comes in the store.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      I hope she dose not put throse stupid dog dresses on it,…Now I would make throse stupid clothes for dogs illegal.

  17. Avatar Donna says:

    This is excellent dialog and information. Thanks, Carla!

  18. Avatar SOC says:

    Any suggestions on where to find a fairly cheap vest? My dog is not a service dog, but I would like a vest for her (not labeled as a service dog) because she was poorly socialized by her breeder and we work every day to make her more comfortable with people, but it would be a huge help to have a sign on her that says "DO NOT PET", to help ensure that if I turn my head for a second, some well-meaning person won't try and push her and either undo the work we've been doing or have her snap in fear.

    A lot of the "do not pet" patches say "service dog". Would it be acceptable to blacken out that part? Or cover it? Or should I stick to the patches that don't say anything about service dogs? I don't want to violate any etiquette about it.

    • Avatar Darcie says:

      Sorry, but if your gol is to socialize your pet, you do not need a vest to do that.

      • Avatar SOC says:

        The goal is to socialize my dog, safely. To do so, we take her out in public and to dog parks frequently and of course monitor her. But, it is difficult to catch every single person who thinks "Oh, well I'm a dog person, even though the dog is cowering away and baring her teeth, she wants to be petted." Her fur is long, meaning I can't just put "Do Not Pet" patches on her collar. Because her fur is long, I would prefer to not have a true coat that I can get at the pet store, because especially when it's warm, she risks overheating. Hence, why a lightweight vest or something which will allow me to label her a non-approachable dog would be ideal, until she improves. If you have other suggestions for how to label her, I would love to hear them!

        • Avatar Darcie says:

          Trust me, a vest will not help you socialize your dog – it would actually encorage more human interaction. The people that don't pick up on your dogs cues, won't read a patch.

          From your description, I might consider a muzzle for safety.

          "the dog is cowering away and baring her teeth…”

          Training and socializing is more in Carla and Chere expertise. Good Luck.

        • Avatar Carla Jackson says:

          I strongly urge you to seek the help of a professional dog trainer who specializes in positive reinforcement techniques for shy, unsocialized dogs. The goal is to change how your dog feels about strangers. Sadly, there is no vest or patch or label on the planet that will do that for you.

          Helping a shy, fearful dog develop confidence can be a slow process and requires patience, excellent timing and never, ever pushing the dog past her comfort zone. Once she’s crossed the threshold into cower and snarl mode, her opinion that people are terrifying is actually reinforced and perpetuated.

          I recommend an excellent booklet called “The Cautious Canine” by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. which offers a step-by-step training program to help dogs overcome their fears.

          Good luck.

        • Avatar SOC says:

          I am working with a wonderful animal trainer and behaviorist. They have recommended non muzzling her because of the stress and short periods of time to safely wear it for a dog her size, additionally, it places more negative aspects to being around people.

          They also thought that labeling her on a vest/coat would be a good thing. Their suggestion was iron on transfers, but there's already patches with a hand circled and crossed out, which works as a good visual cue to people to try and prevent the lunge towards her (which stresses her).

          I have a couple other books on the subject, but had not heard of that particular one. I'll check it out.

          I will say she has made amazing progress – when we got her, she wouldn't even take a treat from a stranger. She will now, as long as the person ignores her, sniff them and their hands.

  19. Avatar Toni says:

    You have written a fabulous column touching on a "pet" peeve of mine as a flight attendant.
    Yes, little kids in grocery stores have runny noses and the like. But really…a dog is a creature that will eat its own feces and then lick its own bottom! I don't want someone's dog sitting in the child seat of a grocery store cart!
    I sort of resent the constant comparison of kids to pets. Pets behave better than kids do, generally. They're supposed to. They're PETS! The fact that they're better behaved than many people (children and adults alike) doesn't mean that they ARE people or should be treated AS people. Don't tell me your pet is "like" your child or, worse, "is" your child. My son is my child. Your pet is a pet. Boundaries, please, people.
    I thought you made a very good point when you noted that those with legitimate service animals generally want to remain low-profile; those with fraudulent ones want all the attention they can get.
    I would say that the VAST majority of "emotional support animals" (and they are very, very differently defined than "service animals") I see on board airplanes are completely bogus, and I say so because so many of their owners are more than happy to shamelessly tell me that they got their next-door-neighbor-the-school-guidance-counselor, their brother-in-law-the-chiropractor, or their MD (intimidated by the thought of losing an HMO's monthly patient fee to another doctor on the same plan) write a note for them saying that they're loony enough to need the dog on board!
    I've even had people tell me, "I'm not crazy, I just got a note for Rover so I don't have to pay the fee and he doesn't have to stay in his carrier. He doesn't like it. Can you believe some people are crazy enough to actually need a dog to get on an airplane?" In other words, they actually pervert/subvert a law designed to help people with real problems, and then MOCK those same people!
    I've NEVER seen the rape victim who can sit next to a stranger on a plane only with her kitty in her lap, the autistic kid who can remain calm enough to travel when he can see the puppy in its carrier, the veteran who copes with PTSD with his dog at his feet….NEVER. Never seen ANYONE like that. I see a lot of neurotic attention-seekers with their dogs on board, and they're happy to tell me how smart they are to get themselves and their dog so labeled to avoid a pet fee and to be excused from having to follow the rules about pets on planes (mainly, having to keep the dog inside a carrier under the seat in front of them). Forget other people who have allergies, phobias or just a dislike of being confined in close quarters for hours on end with an animal they don't know and whose behavior in unusual circumstances often can't be predicted, not even by an owner.
    I am waiting for the day when someone with an ESA that's a white mouse gets seated next to someone with an ESA that's a snake. And yes, ANY animal can be called an ESA. ANY. It sort of all begs the question….where does it end? Let's say my husband is anxious w/o me on board with him…..Do I then fly free in the seat next to him? What if a passenger needs emotional support tequila? What if my phobia means that I require an empty seat next to me, gratis? Should a person who cannot fly without an animal in their lap be on an airplane at all? What about someone anti-social enough to inflict their animal on their seatmates for the sake of extra attention, or to intimidate?
    If your animal is your connection to sanity, why on earth would you insist on having it lose on your lap on a moving aircraft, which is very risky for the animal? Why would you risk your own mental health, not to mention your animal's safety, if that were the case?
    I've also seen a lot of "service dogs" and "ESA's" used as a way to get early boarding, preferential seat choice, and as an excuse to carry on way more baggage than is otherwise allowed. Somehow the people with the bogus animal don't have a need for the animal in the terminal….they'll leave it w/their travel companions or even ask the agents to watch it while they shop, eat, drink, etc. I've seen this happen, and then, at the end of the flight, the person hops up, grabs their bags, shoves what is actually a pet into the arms of their travel companions and dances off the plane. Having been pre-boarded and given lots of extra attention and perks has CURED their "disability."

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      There are really a disablity that cause a person being scared of flying and if Service Animal can help them relax,.. you have no business call it a fake. May I ask have you heard of that Lab Guild Dog that was a real Guild dog in 1989 on a TWA Airplane bit the face of a child! If some these fake dogs can get away with it because they never misbehaved to be found out as a fake,.. maybe the fake SAs are better trained then the REAL ones. As for child being sized up to an animal,…A animal behaves better then any child! A child knows better, when a animal dose not but is better behaved then a child. I'm all for having a rule and banning children under the age of 13 years old from airplanes and well I'm not bother by the idea of fake SD's on the planes. I say if you need to fly a child, fly the child in a animal I mean child cage down in cargo and keep the pets out of the cargo!

  20. Avatar Darcie says:

    Yes, Toni, there are many that abuse (any) system. You raise some good questions. Please don't let it harden your heart for those that truely need the service animal. Remember you cannot tell the challenges a person faces by looking at them. I often hear, things like "oh sure, that is a service dog!" or some such comment from strangers. I look "normal" and my dog is a whippet. They have no idea – I have to remind myself they are just ignorant.

    Vesters are a problem that is difficult to correct. Many disabled people object to their personal medical information being shared with clerks, receptionists and yes even flighht attendants. If you have to ''prove" your disablityy dozens of times a day, you really don't have the same access as others to be able to shop, fly or use public transportation. Personally, I would support a uniform ID issued after documentation has been verified ofthe animal's training, mastery of tasks and the persons disabilty. After all, that would certainly make it easier for MEy, but I have to respect medical privacy of ALL people.

    • Avatar Chere McMillan, CPDT says:

      Hi Darcie, I agree 100% with your suggestion of having a uniform registration for service dogs and their handlers. Unfortunately, the actions of a minority (hopefully) affect everyone and make something like this necessary. People with handicapped tags/hangers for their vehicles don't have to explain their disability to anyone in a parking lot – neither would a person with an identifiable registered service animal.

      As you said, such a program would make life for people and their certified service animal companions much easier. I am appalled when I see a vester taking advantage of a business, other patrons and their animal by abusing the "system." It surely would help business owners also!

      I am amazed at the comments and firsthand accounts about this issue – very interesting. I felt this was a bigger issue than most people are aware of and that seems to be true. A registration program will not stop all people who abuse the service dog/animal program but it certainly would help.

      • Avatar Cindy says:

        Also it will also force a disabled to publically disply there SS# for all to see and their personal info for ID Theif!

  21. Avatar Carla Jackson says:

    Two more book suggestions for SOC:

    “Help for Your Fearful Dog” by Nicole Wilde, CPDT

    “Scaredy Dog!” by Ali Brown, M.Ed., CPDT

  22. Avatar Vicki says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I had a Yorkie that was a service dog she alerted help for me many times during a fall or seizure. She passed away Dec 3 and I am so lost without her. But many times we had problems due to people abusing the vest. I had a script from my dr, her ID card and Vet report that she was a trained service dog. There will be another assistance dog in my life but will be a large dog to help me better with walking. I wish people selling the vest and patches would be more careful on who they sell them too as to sell to those who just want their pet with them is an insult to those of us who are disabled and need the help of our canine friends

  23. Avatar Diane says:

    I understand your comments. BUT — remember many people's disability or disabilities are not seen. You should not judge just because you can not see it.. or it is not like yours. I have a small service dog. She has many different jobs OR abilities. She helps me with not just one area but several. To some people they may not see my medical and psycholgoical issues, that don't make it any less real. I am traveling on a plane for the first time with my service dog next month. I am scared to death. I fear all the comments made — I don't want to have to show all my paperwork. That is my personal business. I am taking it with me just in case I have to (by law I do NOT have to show it – I just can't deal with the additional stress if put in a situation where I have to fight it – I will just show it). When we stop the fakers and start with laws, it will also make it harder and harder for ourselves too.

    I put my service dog in a cart (just as I was taught) – I have her in a purse like thing (with vest or tags showing her ID). If I am just running into a store for a minute, I may carry her -in a blanket (if it is not to hot) to AVOID any dog hair from falling from her. I do bath her and brush her often to prevent loose hair. I wish all service dogs were NO PET. I don't want people to pet her, due to it distracts her from her job. She also does not like it when they pet her.

  24. Avatar Michelle says:

    I am a 36 year- old woman who suffers from severe PTSD due to years of childhood trauma. I am typing this as my partner Nicki, lays at my feet. She is a Belgian Malinois who is in training as a PSD (psychiatric service dog). I too, have heard many comments as to how lucky I am to be able to take my partner with me everywhere I go, to not have to pay pet fees at hotels, and having people move out of my way..My response is always "how lucky you must be to not live a life of fear". Nicki's tasks are specific to my "triggers", and has taken many months to get to the point we are today.She enters a dark room before me and turns on a light.When first walking into my home,she searches every corner of every room, and in public, she enforces my personal space boundaries that are very wide (im working on that…). If I stop to look at something in a store, I no longer have to put my back up against the wall, Nicki is on guard for me. For the first time in my entire life, I have an innate faith and trust in someone else. As long as Nicki is ok, I can be too. When I have one of my "spirals", Nicki goes and gets her brush for me as a distraction.It is something that she and I both enjoy (her more than me, I think!). While focusing on her,I can regain control of my emotions and try to get back on track. Before Nicki, this was nearly impossible for me to do alone. There are not words to express what this dog has done and will continue to do for me. The crazy part is, she will never know how much responsibility she carries on her shoulders. The only thing she will know is how loved she is. This dog is a second chance at a life I have never known. Life skills that everyone else takes for granted are unknown to me. This is what sexual abuse takes from you. I will never be "normal" (hate that word), but with Nicki, I am going to be able to live as "normal" as possible. She is not a cure. I fight PTSD everyday, and will continue to fight. Nicki is to me what marriage should be to others. "Where one is weak, the other is strong". She is my security blanket. So, to all of the people who are jealous because I can take my "dog" in places with me, try to imagine spending one day, just one day, in my shoes. Then tell me how jealous you really are…..

    • Avatar dhunter says:

      Dear Michelle,

      I am so sorry for your hurts and so happy to know that your service dog is bringing so much into your life. Hopefully your story can inspire others who endure the agony of PTSD to come out of hiding and into the world again.

  25. Avatar Desiree says:


    Wonderful blog!

    I was wondering if there is a way to report people for using false therapy dog vests? Someone i know borrowed her sisters dogs real service dog vest just so that she could take her own dog into a theme park. I live in the state of California if that helps.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      If you report a so call faker and it turns out to be a REAL SERVICE DOG,.. You can be serving time in jail! You better make dam'n sure you not reporting a real service dog.

  26. Avatar judy says:

    "parking lot" supervisor… where can I apply ….I cant count the number of times the use of illegally use the handicapped parking spaces happen in my presence.

    And the crooked car next to to me so i couldn't park or get in or out of my door let along get my service dog out safely.

    I'll have to remember that one —"People with handicapped tags/hangers for their vehicles don't have to explain their disability to anyone in a parking lot – neither would a person with an identifiable registered service animal".

    I am stopped more often, because Eli doesn't look like

    the "typical" service dog. It took me quite a while to overcome to the use of a service dog I as many have had a problem admitting I have a problem. I feel now that I do use him I sometimes cringe when confronted, Now that i use him I feel I have to ''prove" my disability dozens of times a day, Thats not giving me the same access as other

    I too have curious strangers every I leave the house being vested with constant questions or looks is just as exhausting.

    I would rather lay my purse in the seat of a shopping cart where an alert dog had been then some dirty diapered… dirty shoes standing child has been

  27. Avatar Kate says:

    This article and the various responses have been very helpful. I work in a veterans hospital, and I see an increasing number of disabled veterans who are tremendously helped by their service dogs. Unfortunately, I also see an increasing number of veterans who are bringing their pets to the hospital, and those pets are disruptive, annoying, and sometimes terrified (I feel sorry for them when they are trembling and drooling on the elevators). While I am totally on board with allowing legitimate service dogs maximum access, there HAS to be a way to weed out the fakers. The fakers are threatening the rights and reputations of those with actual needs for service dogs. I think some sort of standardized system for certifying and recognizing legitimate service animals would be very helpful (though I recognize any system can be abused).

    So far as the handicap vehicle placards are concerned — be careful about assuming fraud. I am a 90% service-connected disabled veteran with a spinal cord injury that is "hidden" in the sense that you would not notice it if you didn't see me in a variety of settings. I am prohibited from walking long distances because of the inflammation in my spine, but my disability does NOT prevent me from doing other physical things, like wearing high heels or even riding a bike. If I have to answer to one more "well-meaning" busy body about the nature of my disability when I use my placard, I think I'm going to eventually lose my cool completely. I shouldn't have to consider NOT using my placard or faking a limp when I get out of the car just to satisfy other people's curiosity.

    Thanks again for the article and all the good feedback.

    • Avatar Cindy says:

      If the vets have any type of disablity they have every right to use their dogs as SDs to help them threw what ever they have. So, the law will always be on the of a person that is disabled no matter the disablity is,.. So if you can't talorate a disabled person for any reason or an animal look into a diff. job!

  28. Avatar Cindy says:

    That's funny I rarely ever hear anyone asking about get a SD vest? I'm kinda wondering if you issues with people a little to hardly a disablity having a SD, when you proubly believe ONLY real SD's are GDs and Wheelchair dogs!

  29. Avatar Christian says:

    Unfortunately even with a real guide dog you run into problem. When I drive my friend D around sometimes we run into resistance about the dog. He a has a seeing eye dog from Guiding Eyes in NY.

    We went to a small restaurant for lunch one day and the owner about flipped his lid. Lucky for us, one of the waitresses quickly intervened with “he has to have the dog because hes blind” and showed us to a table before he could say much. You could tell he wasn’t happy though.

  30. Avatar Brenda Dower says:

    Who do you contact when you know someone is abusing the power of owning a so called service dog? There is someone in my neighborhood who owns a dog that’s over 10 years old and this girl walks this dog about 15x a day up and down 10 stair flight of stairs and on top of that it’s not her service dog it’s her boyfriends. The dog was suppose to be for the boyfriends so called disability and he never walks the dog and oviously doesn’t need the dog because they are always leaving for hours on end leaving that poor dog locked up at home. Not preforming any services. This poor dog is walked over 15x a day and there is no need for it. It has no special vest, the girl always lets people touch the dog. I believe this is a seriously a case of service dog misuse. I live in NH. Do I contact the SPCA or someone else? Thank-you

  1. November 24, 2009

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