To the Editor:
Have you ever worked really hard on an assignment only to find out that a classmate or co-worker cheated and got the same grade or recognition?
Service dog handlers work really hard to train their dog to perform a specific task that increases the handler’s quality of life, only to walk into a store and find someone else has cheated the system and is bringing their pet where it’s otherwise not allowed.
Claiming that your pet is a service animal when it’s not, is illegal. There is no certification or registry. If you purchased something online that certifies your dog, than you’ve been scammed and have wasted your money. Your dog doesn’t magically become a service animal when you slap a vest on it.
The ADA is the federal governing authority regarding service animals. According to them, the dog or miniature horse must be trained to perform a task that is directly related to the disability. Dogs that provide comfort or emotional support (ESA) do not qualify as service dogs and are not allowed public access rights.
There has been quite a bit of news coverage lately of these untrained, fake dogs attacking people and real service dogs. Because of this, several states, including Texas, have enacted laws to punish those who fake service animals.
Incidents like those bring negative light to the service animal world and make it all the more difficult for service animal teams to be successful.
Teams can’t perform successfully with unruly dogs distracting them or injuring them. It’s very difficult to gain trust from retail stores, restaurants and airlines because of the poor behavior of the fake animals.
Service animals are supposed to make the handler’s life easier, not more difficult.
Please just leave Fido at home.