How Fake Service Dogs Hurt Real Service Dogs

I was inspired to write this by a recent Facebook post on Lisa Bregant's Facebook page.  Her post has a great photo of a Golden Retriever with a message asking people NOT to pass their pet off as a Service Animal if they don't truly perform the functions of a Service Animal.  The photo was one Lisa shared from Frankie Franks Facebook page.  It succinctly states that:


It really bothers me when people try to pass their dog off as a certified Service Dog, or when they get a doctor to prescribe an "emotional support" dog just so they can bring their dog to a restaurant or on an airplane.  Faking Service Dog status hurts the reputation of true Service Dogs and could potentially cause them to lose access some day.

Don't try to pass your dog off as a Service Dog if he isn't. Doing so can be harmful to people with disabilities
Icy is a Therapy Dog, which is NOT the same as a Service Dog.  Therapy Dogs are NOT entitled to public access under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but Service Dogs ARE.
If you truly have a NEED for an emotional support dog, I'm all for it.  If you don't have a true need for a service dog, then in my opinion trying to obtain a service dog certification for your pet is the height of selfishness.  

A service dog should have a real need and perform a specific function(s).  When you fake it, you make it harder for true service dogs to gain acceptance, and cause people to perceive them in a negative light.  That could some day cause people with real disabilities, physical or emotional, to lose the ability to go to places the rest of us can access freely.  In turn, that would rob them of their independence and quality of life.  Would you really want to be responsible for that??

Here is my own personal Fake Service Dog experience.

We were selling a house we owned in another state, an investment property.  The renters moved out and we put a lot of time, work, and love into renovating the home and prepping it for sale.  Once it was all finished and looking beautiful, we listed it for sale.  We were proud of all the work we did and how well the house showed.

An interested couple came to look at the house early on and we were thrilled!  Their Realtor was very young, and clearly "green around the gills", but she was a nice young woman.  The first visit went well, nothing seemed amiss.  The couple and their Realtor returned again later to look at the home a second time.  But this time the Realtor brought a little Chihuahua dog with her!  It seemed odd for a professional Realtor to bring her dog to a showing.  The dog was adorable.  She informed me that the dog was 8 months old and was her "Service Dog".  Really??

Max, a real Service Dog puppy in training with my friend Barbara.  Barbara works with an organization that trains dogs to become Service Dogs that aid the disabled.

Can This Puppy Really Be A Service Dog?

First of all, where was the "Service Dog" on their first visit to the house  Secondly, an 8 month old puppy probably wouldn't even qualify to be a service dog yet.  It seemed unprofessional, but I'm an extreme dog lover so it didn't bother me that much.  Not until she put the dog on the floor and let her sniff around the living room, the room with brand new hardwood floors installed 2 weeks prior, and the dog promptly urinated.  She giggled and apologized profusely as I cleaned up her dog's mess.  Because of course she had no pet wipes with her to clean up.  OK, Strike One.

She then asked if I would mind if she let the dog off leash in the yard so she could "run around".  Again, I'm an extreme dog lover so I agreed.  Until the dog pooped in the corner of the yard beneath the beautiful palm tree.  Of course, she didn't have a dog waste bag with her or in her car.  Seriously??  Fortunately, I always keep dog poop bags in our car so I went and got her one.  Strike Two.

There's No Way This Puppy Is A Service Dog!

The couple ended up buying the house!  It was worth a bit of pee and poop to make the sale happen.  They came back a third time to inspect a repair we agreed to make prior to closing.  The Realtor brought the dog again.  This time she didn't have any water for her puppy!  She actually asked me if I had any bottled water for her dog.  Apparently she didn't have a water bowl with her either.   I gave her a bottle of water, which she gave directly to the dog, spilling some of it on the new hardwood floors.  It would have been Strike Three, but Who cares?  The nice new hard wood floors her puppy peed and spilled water on were theirs now, LOL!  

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Therapy Dogs bring comfort and smiles to people in need.  They do not perform the important tasks that Service Dogs perform.  They are very different.  Therapy Dogs do not have the public access right that Service Dogs are granted by U.S. law.
As the couple left with their Realtor and her Fake Service Dog, my husband and I just shook our heads.  "There's no way that puppy is a Service Dog" I said.  We laughed about it, but I had to wonder, did she bring her pooch to every house she was showing?  If the dog was a Service Dog, where was the pup the first time they came to the house?  Does she try to pass her dog off as a Service Dog at restaurants, on planes, and other places are normally off limits to dogs?   I can only imagine this woman toting her obviously Fake Service Dog around all over the place, negatively impacting the reputation of real Service Dogs.

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It's wrong to fake having a Service Dog.  If you don't really need one, please don't do it!  It's not worth degrading the amazing, fascinating work performed by true Service Dogs.  Those dogs are not only heroes but they are an important part of our society.  They can give a disabled person their freedom, their independence and quality of life.  We owe them so much more respect than Faking It, don't you think?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Puppies Behind Bars; Pups being raised in prison for a life of service

From Adorable Puppy To Invaluable Service Dog, an Info-Graphic shard by Petco

What did you think of this post?  How do you feel about getting a "service dog" certification for the sole purpose of bringing one's pet to places dogs are normally not permitted?  Please leave us a comment and share your thoughts!  We love hearing from you?



Two French Bulldogs said...

Fake service dog parents annoy us more than the dog. Our neighbor bought a Service Dog vest online. Their Lhasa Apso is far from a service dog
Lily & Edward

Blueberry's human said...

Oh, I have a lot of thoughts about this. I see these "service" dogs pretty much everywhere I go. It's always so obvious they are not what their owners claim. They usually look freaked out and more often than not, the owner is yelling at the dog to lie down (poor manners, etc), the dog is typically seriously overweight as well. I mean, I get wanting to take your dog places - socialize them, hang out with them. But if they aren't used to it or crowds make them nervous, and if they do not even have basic manners - these people are just torturing their dogs! You are right about it being the height of selfishness - they don't care about others or their dog they claim to love. I know of one woman who owns a rescue and will take her own dog to a bar or restaurants where dogs typically aren't allowed - with a service dog vest on it - even though the vest is a lie. Her dog is well behaved though, so no one ever says anything. But talk about taking advantage of the fact that it's illegal to ask someone what their disability is! It's really too bad selfish people have to ruin it for those that are legitimately in need of service dogs.

M. K. Clinton said...

It is so wrong for anyone to cheat with their dogs. This is a great post. ♥

sprinkles said...

There are LOTS of service dogs on campus at the university I attended. I'm pretty sure some of them weren't actual service dogs though.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I wouldn't doubt that. You can sometimes tell a real service dog from a wannabe, the wannabe's usually have received little to no training and their behavior is sketchy.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Isn't it? It really bothers me when someone fakes a service dog just so they can take them everywhere. I don't think they realize the harm they can do. I'm glad you like the post, thanks!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It's a sad thing, I'd like to see Service Dog laws revised in a big way. Anyone can order a service dog vest online and that's just wrong. I understand an individual wanting privacy about what their disability is, but they should be required to carry some form of documentation. And it should be a crime to falsify service dog documents. It should carry the same penalty as using a parking spot for the disabled when you have no disability.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Oh me too! It's never the dog's fault, it's the owners. Your neighbor has behaved shamefully, that is so wrong and very unfair to wear a service dog vest for a dog that doesn't perform a required service.

Anonymous said...

I just a story on the news over the weekend about the spike in number of service dogs on airplanes. There is a growing question about whether the dogs are really service dogs or not as this is becoming an issue with the number of dogs going through airports and going on planes. I agree that it isn't fair to the real service dogs that there are so many people falsely claiming their dogs to be service dogs. Something should be done about this to better regulate it.

bichonpawz said...

It is so very wrong! I have seen several "service dogs" that I am sure we're not really working dogs. It is sad that people go to such lengths....

Unknown said...

I have a hearing dog. People don't understand what she does. Once I lost an expensive watch because I didn't hear it fall to the ground. I used to claim delivery people didn't knock on my door. Now she alerts me. Ironically, my boyfriend is blind. Tragically his service dog had a sudden heart attack, but Jeremy is very independent and has managed without his dog. We always get interesting looks when we're out and I'm the one with the dog! Thanks for this article!!!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I fully agree, something should be done to better regulate this! I've seen so many dogs that can't possibly be qualified service dogs. I know a few people who have actually written fake letters, saying they are from a Doctor just so they can take their dog on an airplane. I do think service dogs should be regulated, they don't seem to be at all.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It is wrong, and quite selfish too. It definitely impacts how the public perceives service dogs, putting them in a negative light. It shouldn't be allowed.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Jeremy's loss of his service dog. I hope he will be able to have another dog in the future, guide dogs help in so many ways. I'm glad you have a wonderful dog who provides a valuable service to you. It upsets me when people have fake service dogs, it negatively impacts the way true service dogs like yours are perceived. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment & share your experiences with us!

Tenacious Little Terrier said...

A couple of places have told us *wink* *wink* of course your service dog can come into our establishment! I don't do it though because I don't want to pretend he is something he's not and don't want to make things difficult for real service dogs!

DawgBlogger said...

I think that with many people, being honest would right down kill them.

Beth said...

I know that people who claim their dogs are service dogs don't mean to cause harm, but the reality is, they are making it harder for the people who depend on service dogs. I hope that lots of people will read this post and understand the impact of their decision.

Unknown said...

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