Service Dog Fraud

Service Dog Book

Service dog fraud and other bad behavior are on the rise and I’ve been meaning to write about the service dog issue for a while.

The original thought was triggered by a phony “service dog trainer” here in my area and the many “service dogs” that she was churning out.

Dogs that growled and lunged aggressively at other animals and at people.

In case you don’t know, service dogs don’t usually misbehave because they are highly trained and socialized working animals–but nobody around these parts seems to care.

The final straw on this camel’s back was the “service dog” I encountered at my favorite coffee house.

It was a chow fully outfitted in a mail order jacket and patch–wearing a muzzle because it was unsafe in public.

It also wasn’t doing its owner any type of service at all–the paraphernalia the dog wore was fraudulent.

Now I am not the only one whose hackles were raised by this topic.

Earlier in the summer (2010) the bloggers at Pet Connection (now defunct) tackled the subject of service dogs and also fake service dogs.

Then I stumbled upon two posts having to do with service animals on Dog Spelled Forward (also now defunct)  that opened up a discussion on this topic as did The Horseand so I took it as a sign that it was time to do a short rant on this topic.

Today it is February 6, 2018 and this topic has hit the news triggered by some beastly behavior of pet owners who don’t get why their pets are not really service animals.

A few snippets in the new included:

Because there are a lot of people who claim to have service dogs that don’t. They feel like they can be the exception to the rule.

Fake documentation exists and so people try and get away with claiming this all the time.

In fact, someone I know just complained to me that when she tried to get her doctor to give her a note so she could get her dog into public places without an issue, he refused.

Thank goodness for integrity from someone!

Now, if you don’t know much about this topic, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 with the goal of alleviating discrimination against individuals with physical or mental disabilities and part of that act included allowances for specially trained dogs and other service animals–but lots of things were not super clear.

In fact, there were some things in the ADA that needed change, and over time, a few edits have happened.

The most recent occurred in July of 2010 when a series of changes were made to existing regulations that will take effect in 2011.

Among the changes is a more restrictive definition of “service animal.”

The new regulation states, in part, that:

“service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.”

So crime fighting animals or those mistakenly listed under the “provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship” are not acceptable or qualifying tasks for a service animal.

That helps and was discussed further here–but not being able to ask for proof that an animal is a service dog will still remain a problem.

The upside at least is that some of those people can be asked to leave:

Places of public accommodation may ask individuals seeking to be accompanied by an animal: (i) if the animal is required because of a disability; and (ii) what task or work the animal has been trained to do. Places of public accommodation are prohibited from requiring proof of service animal certification or licensing. Places of public accommodation may remove a service animal if it is “out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it” or the animal is not housebroken.

For those who have asked, here are some of the groups that do supply support, guidance and referrals to trainers and evaluators for specific service dogs.

So, now it is time for you to chime in–what do you think about all this?

This article first appeared September 7, 2010. Latest update February 6, 2018. Please leave your comments over on the ARKlady page.

Who’s Your Daddy?

Father’s Day is upon us once again and I thought I would talk a little bit about a couple of unique animal fathers that exist out there in the animal world.
Animal Father's Rhea - ARKanimalsCom
In the animal kingdom the males of many species usually do not stick around to help with their offspring. The drive behind this is to spread their genes with little investment of time or energy.

The female’s role is different since she is invested in the survival of her genes. Usually it is she who carries, nurtures, guards, and teaches her youngsters so they have a better chance of long term survival so her genes get carried forward.

Nature has some adaptions that people don’t like such as synchrony of cycles in female groups such as in African lions.

If a new male takes over the pride he usually kills the offspring of the previous pride male. This causes the females to cycle again. He then mates and his genes are passed on to a new generation. He does protect those cubs–but when it comes to other activities he can be a bit lazy.

Of course there are also those aberrant fathers such as the Grizzly bear–who actually attempt to kill cubs in their territory.

This action removes their genes from the genetic pool but also is thought to keep the bear population down (narrowing competition) if he is successful in his attacks.

However, there are males that help rear young. So, I thought I’d mention a couple in honor of Father’s Day.

Rheas are large, flightless birds native to South America known as ratites. Most people do not know that rhea chicks are raised by their fathers, who also incubate the eggs.

The National Zoo’s rhea chicks sleep nestled in their father’s feathers on his back. During their daily meandering dad guards over them and warns of danger through a rapid clacking of his bill to bring them all running back under his wings.

Red Fox
The Red Fox dad looks after his vixen who stays in the den for the first month after the birth of her litter.

He feeds her until his offspring come out of the den. Then he spends time, not only teaching them, but playing too.

In a few months the male helps train them to find food and shares survival skills to help them become more independent.

Of course there are other great animal fathers out there. Do you have a favorite? If so please comment below.

Rhea Father & Chicks Photo Copyright & Courtesy of Mehgan Murphy & The National Zoo.