Generally you can identify service dogs by the fact that they wear a service dog vest, and sometimes an ID tag. But thanks to a rising trend that has begun online, it's possible that you may see more and more fake service dogs in public areas.
True service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for humans. Service dogs help disabled people in countless ways, from providing balance and support while walking to fetching dropped objects or even opening doors to even alerting their owners to oncoming seizures. Service dogs undergo very specialized training to teach them how to perform these behaviors. The training also teaches dogs important behavioral expectations, such as not barking, not jumping on people, and how to stay focused on their owner rather than being distracted by their surroundings.
Because service dogs perform essential tasks to help people, they are allowed to go in most public places, including into stores and on airplanes. Business owners can question service dog owners, but they can only ask two specific questions: Is that a service dog, and what service does this dog provide? Store owners are not allowed to ask the service dog's owner about what their disability is under federal law.
The problem is, some people are passing off pet dogs as service animals and getting your dog certified as an emotional support animal is getting easier and easier. Take a look at this video for more information.
Fake service dogs are not good news for society. They can put real service dogs in danger, since these untrained dogs may attack service dogs, which are trained to be submissive. Additionally, fake service dogs may exhibit negative behaviors in public, including barking, jumping up on people, and even being aggressive.
If you need a legitimate service dog, there are many ways to go about getting one. Some programs are willing to train an existing pet, but be aware of the fact that the rigorous training can take years and your pet dog won't necessarily make a good service dog. Other programs train service dogs and then match applicants with dogs best suited to fulfill their needs. Your doctor can provide you with additional resources and advice on getting a trained service dog.
While emotional support dogs also perform tasks for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses, there are different requirements and benefits for pet owners. Learn more about the difference here.
Visit the American Disabilities Act (ADA) website for more information.
Have you been seeing more and more fake service animals? Tell us in the comments below.
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