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I know it seems very complicated, it is. The reality is, you qualify by being disabled but there is not a governing body out there handing out IDs or checking papers saying "oh yeah, you are disabled and qualify for a Service Dog."

Let us say that you as an able bodied individual decided that you wanted to take your pet dog out and pretend that she was a service dog. So you buy a vest and walk your dog into a store. Probably at the first store no one stops you. Ok, so you are getting away with this, because the reality of the situation is that, there is no registration for service dogs and there is no one who is going to check any IDs or papers to make sure you are disabled and your dog is actually a service dog. Again, can you imagine some one asking to see proof that you were disabled before you could walk into a store with a cane? How about proof of your identity just to walk down the street?

Ok now you are at a second store and some one stops you and asks "is that a service dog?" You have two choices, you can lie and say "yes" or you can admit the truth that your dog is a pet. You lie, maybe you even make something up for the second question, "my dog makes me feel good". The manager is called over because the employee doesn't believe you, maybe they know that "making you feel good" isn't a service dog task. You act outraged, threaten a lawsuit, but the manager tells you that you are welcome to return without your dog. You again have two options, push your luck, or leave. This is where you, as an able bodied individual with a pet dog have run into trouble. A person with a legitimate disability and a legitimately trained service dog would politely attempt to educate the manager. Perhaps we would offer a card with the ADA information on it or even call the police to help. If I am forced to leave a public place (a restaurant, store, hospital, doctor's office or hotel) with my trained service dog I can call the DOJ and file a complaint, I can even file a lawsuit. My disability is well documented, I have many doctors on my side and proof of the time I spent training my dog. As an able bodied individual you have no proof of a disability and your pet dog is not trained to perform any task to mitigate your non-existent disability. The law is not on your side and you have no case to pursue in court. The ADA does not protect you, the DOJ will not help you and you cannot file a lawsuit. This is why I talk about qualifying for a service dog. No, there is no one out there who is going to "certify you" or check your papers, because there aren't any. However to have the protections of the law you must be disabled and your dog must be properly trained. Once again the best way to stop fakers is to educate businesses of their rights as well.

You do not have to have a letter from your doctor. If you live in no pet housing it is required. If you want to fly it is required. Most organizations that train service dogs require a letter to prove that you are actually disabled and that a service dog would help you (as opposed to some other option). Some people hear about service dogs and think "wow it would be great to take my dog everywhere" and start trying to figure out how to make that happen. Trainers often require a letter or prescription to prevent that from happening. It is also to help prevent a service dog from being the only means of treatment, which is not fair to the dog. A dog should be one part of a treatment plan. However, a letter is not required as per ADA.
 

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Thanks for the additional clarification, Remaru! I'm just more interested in the logistics (vs. trying to argue) because it seems a little contradictory at times, so your posts really help. FWIW I think people that abuse the whole SD thing in general are despicable... like the ones that needlessly park in the handicapped spot. Really burns my rubber! I just can't imagine lying about something like that, it's so disrespectful to those that truly need the service of SDs and ESAs.
 

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Thanks for the additional clarification, Remaru! I'm just more interested in the logistics (vs. trying to argue) because it seems a little contradictory at times, so your posts really help. FWIW I think people that abuse the whole SD thing in general are despicable... like the ones that needlessly park in the handicapped spot. Really burns my rubber! I just can't imagine lying about something like that, it's so disrespectful to those that truly need the service of SDs and ESAs.

It is hard to understand how it works in practice unless you've talked to people who have been living it. I think that is why so many fakers think they can get away with it, because it is complicated to understand but sounds like you just have to claim your dog is a service dog and no one can say that it isn't. The whole thing with registries is complicated too. There is just no good way to implement a system without hurting the people who actually need service dogs. I worry with so many people faking and causing problems laws will be made anyway. I kind of understand why people lie to try to get their dogs in, they think it is harmless or more often they just don't really think at all. Everyone always thinks, "well my dog is well behaved," or "my dog would never act up in a store." Or they don't really understand how their actions affect other people. I would love to be "normal" and to not spend half of my time with doctors. As much as I love dogs (and I do) dragging one with my every single place I go is not exactly what I want. I do wish people understood that when you are disabled you don't get to choose. You can't just slap a vest on your dog and take them to the mall or a cafe one day and get to go out and be carefree and normal the next. It is like this everyday, service dog, service human, and other supports but I don't get to choose not to be disabled.
 

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Thanks to this thread, I was able to have an educated discussion with someone about Service Dogs and cleared some misconceptions they had. Thanks folks!
 

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I know that it is not mandatory/required, but do most people register their service dog with the US Service Dog Registry? Are there any additional benefits to it? Just wondering because this is something that is automatically included with the service dog program I am going with.
 

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I know that it is not mandatory/required, but do most people register their service dog with the US Service Dog Registry? Are there any additional benefits to it? Just wondering because this is something that is automatically included with the service dog program I am going with.
No, most people do not register their service dogs with the USSDR, it is a scam registry just like all of the others. There are 0 additional benefits except the ID card, you do not need an ID card and using one only makes life harder for legitimate SD teams. I could register my cat with the USSDR right now, it would not make her a Service Dog nor make it legal to take her out in public like one.

Honestly I would be extremely skeptical of any program that registered all of their dogs through the USSDR as it is a scam and unnecessary. There are many fly by night and scam programs out there that take people's money promising fully trained service dogs in 3, 6, 9, or 12months when it takes at least 18months to train a dog for service work. At best these programs may offer a trained pet, at worst you get a dog with zero training or they neglect and abuse your dog. I have seen some really badly "trained" program dogs and dogs that were left in cages and abused by "program trainers". There are good programs out there and many do certify their dogs but it is a certification the program provides to say the dog was trained by the program and passed the programs testing, not typically anything through one of these websites. That is a huge red flag.
 

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I just want to reiterate what's been said and thank everyone for all of the information here. As a trainer I have also been better equipped to answer service dog questions in an educated way thanks to this discussion and the resources it led me to. You'd be surprised (or not) at how many people 'want' their dogs to be service dogs...
 

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I'm glad I picked up on this thread earlier. I had suspected a scam with the " registries" . I work hard to train my dog for " street smarts" similar to my streetrodding cars...i.e. designed and built to handle anything on the street and not racing of exhibisionistic stuff. Hate it.

My Aussie is a true high end active very exuberant dog, far above what " normal" Aussies and Border Collies are. She probably could do very well in agility but I no longer compete in sports. I have worked with this level dogs a lot and really enjoy it. It's also a real comfort to me mentally and physically. I spoke at length with my doctor and he gave me a perscription for "emotional support dog". Not a true service dog and that's fine. This dog is about opposite of what service dogs need to be....least wise I think so.

So, for street dog she needs stability yet awareness of the surroundings. Since I barely hear she alerts to things I might not notice, cars but not fearful just " hey, look, a car" other dogs..." watch my tail master" , runner or bike coming up from behind " watch my nose master, high speed bike coming from behind on the left or ( right) , someone is at the door and I don't like him/ her.

She works so hard in classes that she is exhausted for hours. I usually am too as it is so mentally stimulating.

We have a bunch of truely unruly Dogs in our apt building. So we have to work to either avoid or deal with them. Since I added "support dog" to her harness most people give way and keep there dogs close. It's not " fake" as I have a real doctors note and showed it to the apt manager who promptly gave us a break on dog fees, no questions asked. This helps as we can heel past them either on the left or right and lately Sam is learing "follow me". (One word).

I don't say anything about the rent thing as these people would jump on the fake stuff. They are going to have to go through at least some of the issues I have......and good luck getting Doctor approval. The doctors are well aware of service dogs and ESD.

Anyway I hope I'm not being offensive, I just love training, it settles me and my dog loves it.

I use positive training and distraction when things get rough.

Just a last note, Sam's recall is explosive, she actually slides on the rubber mat at traning and throws dirt stopping in the field. There is no holding her head away submissively or cringing from force training. She is a happy dog....currently resting her head in my lap.
 

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I'm not sure I'm following your post entirely. Are you talking about ESA's or SDs here? You do need a doctor's note for an ESA if you rent or want to fly with your dog (or other ESA) however there is no need to label your dog's harness with "support dog" as you cannot take you do not have access rights with your ESA. Those ESA patches are almost exclusively produced by scam registry sites or people wanting to make money off of people who don't know better.

It is wonderful that your dog is well trained and that you are getting so much out of training with your dogs. I have always loved training and working with dogs. It has been more difficult for me as my health deteriorates, I cannot do the things I used to do. Not sure why you bring up training styles or what you are trying to imply?

Unfortunately very few doctors are actually versed in service dogs, what they can and can't do, why you would need one, and what the differences are between SDs and ESAs.
 

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To answer your questions, my dog is an ESA under the rules. My doctor is well aware of the rules of these and service dogs.
The rent break is the secondary reason I have this. She really does provide emotional support. That's what I'm trying to convey. In view of the disturbing mass murders recently I didn't think it was a good idea to indicate " emotional support". I'm enough of an oddity at the apartment as it is. I believe in old time values and don't fit in with this group at the apartment. I probably will not fly with my dog. I hate commercial flying today.
The reason I label the harness is to keep these unruly people and their dogs away from us. I know it's pushing the rules a bit and I don't take her in businesses as though she is a SD nor indicate this at all. I have very high respect for SD and those who have them. The only places she gets to go in are dog friendly stores...feed store, shop where I work, and a few auto parts stores that are dog friendly. I'm careful not to present as a SD in any way. Ironically the bank where I go invited and encourages me to bring her in. Something that surprised me. I even explained to the mgr. that she is not a SD. He said that was fine, they just like her because she is friendly and well mannered. Believe me I'm very careful when I bring her in the bank as there are at least two SD people who bank there also. If they are present we stay out.

Training. I think I'm going to back out of this. I probably should not have said anything. I just enjoy it so much I get carried away.
 

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Does this forum have any control over who advertises? An ad with the following text comes up on the bottom of the page on my screen:
"US Service Dog Registry
Emotional Support & Service Dog ID. No-Hassle. ID Certificate Vest Kit Go to usserviceanimals.org/Service-Dog
"

Seems to me this is a scam, and an invitation to people who want to pass emotional support animals as service dogs.
 

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It is a scam. Don't think the board has much control.
 

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I just got away from a discussion on service dogs with one of my sons. He is not a dog owner or dog person.
The question: suppose you have ligitmate service dog. Maybe you are epileptic. You go to a small retail store and the owner confronts you saying" you cannot bring your dog in here. " you respond that the dog is a specially trained service dog. So the store owner emphatically tells you to leave or he will call the cops. You politely tell him "please do call them". Then two cop cars pull up and the officers review the matter. It turns out neither are familiar with service dogs and where they can and can't go. The discussion goes back and forth with the cops finally telling you " we don't know the rules so let's just be nice and leave this store alone". Fuming you leave.

What can you do?
Can the store owner really tell you not to bring the dog in?
 

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I just got away from a discussion on service dogs with one of my sons. He is not a dog owner or dog person.
The question: suppose you have ligitmate service dog. Maybe you are epileptic. You go to a small retail store and the owner confronts you saying" you cannot bring your dog in here. " you respond that the dog is a specially trained service dog. So the store owner emphatically tells you to leave or he will call the cops. You politely tell him "please do call them". Then two cop cars pull up and the officers review the matter. It turns out neither are familiar with service dogs and where they can and can't go. The discussion goes back and forth with the cops finally telling you " we don't know the rules so let's just be nice and leave this store alone". Fuming you leave.

What can you do?
Can the store owner really tell you not to bring the dog in?
You have a couple of options. You can present the officers with information if you have it with you (there are also phone apps) if they seem open to it. You can take the officers names, badge numbers and information so you can speak to their supervisors, very politely. Approach it as an education thing, don't go in angry or trying to get anyone in trouble. Make sure you have all of your information in order before you go. As far as the business, as long as they are open to the public a service dog handler does have the right to be there. There are some caveats to that, the business owner is allowed to ask two questions, and if the dog is not behaving you can be asked to remove your dog, there are also parts of the zoo you can't take your dog into ect. However if you have a problem you take it up with the DOJ, there isn't really anything the police can do other than inform the business that you have a right to be there.
 

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My dog's not doing public access yet but to add some perspective, I've been 'politely escorted' out of stores for having asthma attacks in public. I generally don't go out by myself because I have other episodes where people will frequently call the police on me unless someone else is there to diffuse - people don't listen to me if I start using a speech aid, that's usually when they start threatening me. And I don't trust that when the police come they're going to in any way assist me.

It's not OK but being kicked out of places for no good reason is sometimes part of having a disability and adding a dog to the equation doesn't really change that. In my case it will probably have the same effect as refusing to leave my house without a non-disabled third party who can do a block and cover for me. It doesn't stop people from being terrible. Sometimes even if my mom is standing by explaining my entire medical history to a stranger they'll nod and agree and call the police anyway.

Probably the people who will call the police for bringing the dog are the same people who will call the police because I had the audacity to have a seizure or asthma attack or meltdown in public.
 

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Yeah to be honest that really blows my mind a little. I can't imagine seeing someone suffering from a seizure or an attack of any sort and NOT wanting to help... it just... does not compute.
 

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People don't call the police on me for having an asthma attack but like I said, I have multiple disabilities so I have more than one type of attack. I have been kicked out of the movies, a grocery store, and many many classes for having an asthma attack. I've also been "politely" asked not to use my inhaler on a bus (not by the driver). But anyway it depends on whether or not people think I'm doing something weird because I'm disabled/sick or because I'm obstinate and just enjoy collapsing in the frozen foods section I guess.

Also even when people are genuinely trying to help it's really just a major inconvenience when people call 911 because I had my 5th asthma attack this week or whatever. If you just let me sit on the floor while I wait for my inhaler to kick in I'll be fine in 10 minutes but if you call 911 I have to spend 30-60 minutes explaining my medical condition and I would rather just be going on with my day. The people who call for help even after you tell them not to are the worst because they get vindictive about it.

People suck, that's why I only hang out with dogs.
 

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L & T,
Please don't be too hard on people, they really are trying to just do something for you. I mean how would you feel if you are sitting on the floor against the vegetable bins and somebody came by and tossed a ten dollar bill in your lap and said " here, buy another inhaler but move over so I can make my selections"?

I know some can get owly and be a PIA but you can disregard them. If a store mgr is so dumb as to kick you out I guess I'd just let them know they just lost a good customer and maybe more. If I were the mgr. I would do everything I could to make you more comfortable. It's hard not to call 911 in a medical situation because of legalities.

Two years ago I was playing senior baseball and got hit on the cheek by a pitched ball twice in about a month. Broke my helmets both times and cost five teeth. Both times the games were stopped and 911 came. Players from both teams sat with me until the situation stabilized. It cost both teams another $100 each for overtime at the field. I offered to,pay this but they refused..they wouldn't even take my share. So not everyone is vindictive.

Yeah, I live with my dog too, she is resting on my feet.
 
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