Service animals provide significant benefits to disabled people and veterans of the United States military. But not every dog with a red vest is a service animal. Some owners try to pass their pooches off as those trained to help people with needs. And states are working to shut down this fraud before it gets too out of hand.
According to a USA Today report, 19 states are taking action to shut down “fake” service dogs. If people have a medical condition that warrants the use of a service dog, their animal will still be allowed inside restaurants and all other establishments. But for people ‘faking’ it, states have little sympathy. They don’t want people taking their dogs into restaurants and other food establishments and putting health practices in jeopardy.
People have been calling their state legislatures over the last few years with numerous complains about the rising number of service animals.
Because patrons don’t want dogs in establishments where they’re usually banned, they’re calling up their elected officials to do something. And now the politicians are starting to listen to your complaints. States are working hard to define what a service animal is and who does and does not need one. Just because the dog is wearing a red vest does not mean it is a genuine service animal, and this has upset a lot of business owners. And now their elected officials are shutting down the abuse.
In Virginia, state legislatures have made it illegal for pet owners to put a service dog vest on an animal that was not trained. Anyone who breaks this law gets fined $250.
In January 2017, Colorado passed a law cracking down on “fake” service dogs. It is very similar to what Virginia is doing except Colorado is instituting a potentially harsher punishment. If a pet owner is found to have a ‘fake’ service dog, they’ll get slammed with a fine between $50 and $500. The amount of the fine depends on how badly the pet owner violates the law.
Massachusetts is looking to ban “fake” service dogs too.
Massachusetts state representative Kimberly Ferguson, a Republican, is working to crack down on people faking it with their pets.
“Today, any pet owner can go online and buy a vest for a dog to pass it off as a service animal to gain access to restaurants, hotels and places of business. Their animals aren’t trained and end up misbehaving in these public places, which gives real service dogs a bad name.”
Not only do fake service dogs caused problems in establishments – including health and sanitary issues – they cause people to disrespect genuine service dogs that have gone through rigorous training to provide a valuable service to their owners.
A law professor at Michigan State University College of Law, David Favre, spoke about why service dogs and “fake” service dogs need to be separated.
“A service animal is trained to be in public and to be under control and non-intrusive and not bark. They are trained not to be a nuisance in any way. You should hardly even know they are there.”