Fake Service Dogs — Read this person’s blog

This picture features a dog in the feet area of the bulkhead seating on an airplane. Photo from the website: http://www.gooddoghometraining.com/service_dog_training.htm
This picture features a dog in the feet area of the bulkhead seating on an airplane. Photo from the website: http://www.gooddoghometraining.com/service_dog_training.htm

I was casually looking at other blogs tonight of service dog handlers and I happened to come across this one blog post that I wanted to share with you. Keep in mind this individual is not disabled, or doesn’t appear to be by the way she writes and describes things, just a dog lover.

Read this post, then come back to my post after you’ve formed your opinions. Let me know what you think in the comments. Here is the hyperlink: Nicole Marie Richardson’s blog. 

Here’s what I said in the comments, but it is still “awaiting moderation.” :

“As a truly disabled individual who has a service dog that was trained for a year and a half to do her job right, people whose dogs don’t perform essential functions and aren’t super well trained hurt the disabled community, especially service dog handlers. I understand that you would like a cheaper way to travel with your beloved dog, but if that dog DOES act out and is labelled a “service dog” that puts a bad taste in many people’s mouths and makes it even harder for the next person who does have a legitimate disability and service dog. I urge you and all of your readers to consider this when thinking about doing this on your next trip. It may not be illegal, but it is seriously unethical. Last, but not least, an Emotional Support Assistance Dog is an assistance animal, not a service animal and does not have the legal rights they do as they are not covered under the ADA. They are not task trained. Thank you for reading this and I sincerely hope you take into consideration what I had to say.”

I generally don’t like to badmouth other people on my blog as I want this to be a very positive and honest atmosphere, but this just really does put a bad taste in my mouth and for her to publish it. Hmm…  I have been wanting to post something on fake service dogs as this is a topic that REALLY pushes my buttons but haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. I will try to get one written this week.

As I said in my comment, this really does hurt service dog handlers who do have a disability. Many fake service dogs are not as well trained and will go to the restroom indoors, make a lot of noise, jump on other people, eat food off the floor, etc. They do not have the training nor skills that real service dogs have. Therefore, whether it be on a bus, train, inside a restaurant, wherever, when a fake service dog acts out but others on board identify that dog as being a service dog, that puts a bad taste in their mouth. Then the next time when a real service dog is onboard or in the vicinity, the individual(s) may not be as accommodating or friendly, at no fault to the service dog handler or service dog themselves. It’s a really unfortunate situation.

Now, I want to clarify that I am not putting down Emotional Support Assistance Dogs. I think for individuals with some emotional issues, they are wonderful. And if this individual really did have an anxiety issue, I would have an ENTIRELY different outlook on this, even though Emotional Support Assistance Dogs aren’t covered under the ADA. But the truth is she obviously didn’t and was posting this to all her viewers to read and take advantage of. Look in the comments, there are others who think this is a brilliant idea and are therefore going to take advantage of it, adding several more fake service dogs to the world. Ugh.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you on this.

Published by

Jessica N and Makiko

Jessica is a proud Texan. She graduated in 2014 with her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and is now employed. She is visually impaired and has a retinal disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. Originally Jessica started blogging about everything from being diagnosed with the disease to where she is now, almost 9 years later. Then, Jessica went to Guide Dogs for the Blind and was blessed with Makiko, her new guide dog. Now, her blog "The Way Eye See The World" is about everything related to visual impairments, including guide dogs.

16 thoughts on “Fake Service Dogs — Read this person’s blog”

  1. Sooo…she is advocating for people to scam the system. That’s sweet of her. I did read yestarday that Texas has expanded to protect veterans with PTSD and their service dogs. However, these dogs are trained to spot the signs of a flashback or panic attack and get their handler to a safe, quiet area. Also, regarding the other blog, no one who actually uses a service dog calls them a “service pup” or “service doggie” because they are working animals and deserve some dignity.

    1. Love the sarcasm. 🙂 That is FABULOUS that Texas HAS expanded to protect veterans with PTSD and their service dogs. Like you said and I said, if this gal had an emotional disorder, even if Emotional Support Assistance Dogs aren’t protected under the ADA, I would have no problem with her taking the dog on the flight as a service dog. But the reasons that this person gave were not to help an individual with a disability. Also, very good eye on the “service pup” or “service doggie” verbage.. you’re right that doesn’t give them the dignity they deserve. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  2. I cant believe this, and it rubs me the wrong way, I actually left a comment and this is what I said:

    “Wow! How dare you do that! Being a person with adisability on a waiting list to get a service dog and having many friends that have service or guide dogs we ACTUALLY need those dogs to help us in everyday life. We don’t do it just because we want our dog with us! You should really think about you are doing, passing your dog off as a service dog when your dog does no service for you just to save money! I am very disgusted with your post!”

    1. Skylar, I am glad that you commented on her blog and have continued to follow up. For your case in particular having waited for a service dog for years, I can see how it would rub you the wrong way in a unique way. Good, blunt, comment. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Hi Jessica and Makiko, it’s Jillian and Tinsel 🙂 wow!! The subject of fake service animals infuriates me. I hate it when people flat out lie and say “oh my dog is a service dog” when clearly they are not! This was something I saw a couple times in Austin and other places. It leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and then when people like us come long with actual service dogs it can make things difficult because of someone else’s stupidity. Drives me crazy. I don’t mean to bad mouth anyone but I think what that lady is doing is very wrong. Now if her dog is truly a emotional assistant dog then I’m totally fine with that but it sounds like she’s trying to get people to pass their dogs off as service dogs when they are not which I think is very wrong

    1. Jillian, Oh yeah it definitely infuriates me too. I think this is one of those topics that would be labelled a “hot topic” in the community of service dog handlers. I haven’t actually ever seen it for myself but I have heard about it happening, of course. You’re not badmouthing anyone, you’re just stating your opinion and I totally agree with what you said. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  4. It always makes me so upset when I see someone trying to pass an untrained, pet dog as a service animal. As a puppy raiser it doesn’t necessarily effect me directly but I know how much it effects the people my dogs will eventually go on to help. I get asked all the time “where can I get a vest like that so I can take my dog everywhere with me?” Its so hard to stay calm and explain to people how inappropriate it is to just want to take your dog everywhere with you just because and how much damage it can cause to people with actual guide or service dogs.
    I wish there was a way for people who claim their dogs to be service animals when they are not to be punished (at least with a fine).
    I hope that this women takes your comments to heart and realizes what a mistake she is making by publicizing how to undermine the system and get your dog into places for free…

    1. Jenni, Thanks for your comment. It is great to learn about your perspective as a puppy raiser on this issue. I imagined it would be very similar to mine, which it is. 🙂 You said something that made me think of another point. Many people call service animals “pets,” and while they do have fun time and are just like any other dog, well– any other trained dog, while off-leash and off-harness, they are not really “pets.” That is crazy that you got asked where to get vests and good for you for staying calm and explaining how its so inappropriate. I wish it was against the law for people to claim their animals as service animals when they are not. I hope that happens someday! I too hope she takes them to heart. She seems to have taken them to heart just a little bit at least by her reply to my comment. 🙂 Again, thanks for posting. 🙂

  5. As someone late to the party, I don’t have much to add after reading everyone else’s comments. I agree that someone should not be taking advantage of the ability to take service dogs onto planes. However, since I was late, I was able to see the other blogger’s comment to yours, and she seems to agree with you about not giving service dogs a bad name. Hopefully, she does mean what she says. I do think, though, she should make this more explicit to her readers, as I can imagine they don’t read all the comments. I know I just read your comment and her comment to yours…oooooooooooooooooooo

    1. EMDM,

      You’re right, she does seem to agree with me to some extent but I do not know how serious she really is taking me. However, I don’t think I will really ever know. I too hope she means what she says and I would love it if she made it more explicit but I kind of doubt that will happen. Thanks for your comment dear!

  6. I read your comment to my blog this morning and it motivated me to come here and check out your blog, too. Enjoyed this post, and I think you might like reading one I wrote on this subject a couple years ago. It’s called
    Helper Parrots & Guide Horses: Where to Draw the Line?
    Here’s the link:

    After I hit the “send” button on this comment, I’m going to send you a separate invite to start following my blog—if you agree, all it means is that you’ll get an email message alerting you anytime I’ve published something new.
    So glad I found you here, thanks for commenting to my blog, Jessica!

    1. Beth, I’m glad that you did invite me to follow your blog and I hope you did/will follow mine. I am about to go read that post. Thanks for sharing it with me. I always love to read about other people with disabilities and service animals. Thank you for coming to see my blog. 🙂

      -Jess and Makiko

  7. Jessica: thanks for your confident advocation and education on responding so eloquently to the Fake Guide Dogs deal. Thinking about this problem makes me wonder why people are OK lying, why Drs are OK faking it, and why TSA and airline staff don’t always check for proper ticketing. Then, I think about hassles that occur for those with disabilities who use service dogs who have to educate on ADA laws to establishment owners. Oh my.

  8. This person may not say her dog is a service dog but her actions are to imply it is. Too bad the airline didn’t flag her name and then every time she checked in they would ask for her dogs ticket. As someone waiting for their first service dog I sometimes wonder if it might not be a horrible idea in some instances to require proof that you have a service animal. I hate to see people “work the system” and then make it harder for everyone else who are legitimate.

  9. Jessica – Thanks for stopping by Help On Four Legs. The epidemic of folks who think they’re entitled to have their dogs in public is growing, I think. You’re doing the best thing we can do, which is to raise awareness. Love your blog!

  10. What bothered me most was the blatant uobeat “here’s how to best the system” tone of the post! Public Access is a necessity for individuals with disabilities and accommodating devices (wheelchairs, walkers, segways or service dogs!) You do not pet a wheelchair or pay extra to fly with it. It is a medically necessary treatment device. That is the bottom line to determine the difference in my humble opinion.
    (And, yes, I truly love my SD like a member of my family!!!!)

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