“You don’t see people faking a life-threatening illness to get a wish from Make-A-WIsh Foundation..” (Followup on Fake Service Dogs Post)


Before I say more.. watch this! If you click that hyperlink, you will be taken to the NBC Bay Area site. After you watch the video, you can read the article if you want but the content is almost identical in both places.

Here are my thoughts:

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

  1. YAY NBC! Thank you so much for doing a story on this. The issue of fake service dogs unfortunately is becoming more and more of an issue. The blog that I referenced in my other post as well as the NBC News video above, both are evidence of this I think. Notice the date on the article/video (May 21, 2013). Just last month.
  2. I found “Canine Cheats,” to be a humorous but effective way of describing what is going on here. “Faking,” “cheating,” “smuggling” are three of many words that I could think of to describe the actions of these people.
  3. “It happens more often than you might think, often at the expense of the disabled.” Well, yes, this isn’t person-first language but the message is clear. It IS very much so at the expense of individuals with disabilities who rely on true service animals.
  4. I really liked the way the girl, Alex, who is in a wheelchair expressed how this affects her. Her point about our dogs being very submissive is RIGHT ON and I would have never thought to describe it like that. Our dogs WON’T fight back and as the gal said, our dogs are “at risk,” and for me personally that’s my “eyes” and therefore my independence. For her, it’s her mobility and therefore her independence. The title of this particular blog post came from a quote that this girl said in the video. She said, “You don’t see people faking a life-threatening illness to get a wish from Make-A-Wish foundation. Right? You don’t do that. You don’t take advantage of the perks of someone else’s disadvantage that way.” Oh wow she hit it right on! If that doesn’t illustrate the point, I’m not sure what will. I am really excited to read her blog.
  5. It really is unfortunately very easy to pass your dog off as a service dog. (See more info below)
  6. I absolutely LOVED the undercover conversations with members of the public in this gal’s hometown. The first man admitting that he has claimed his dog as a service dog before.. the dog that is pictured eating all that stuff off the ground (gross).. that dog’s owner who is “over it in general” referring to the fact that only service animals are allowed in some places.. the guy explaining how to “get around” the fact that they don’t have a service animal but they want to bring their dog by just claiming it’s a service dog because the staff can’t ask many questions. I found it very informative that the news reporter explained how staff can only ask two questions: 1) Is it a service animal? and 2) What is it trained to do? They can’t specifically ask about your disability, ask for the identification, asked who trained it, etc. So by law if anybody asked me the maximum I have to say is “Yes this is a service animal and she is trained to guide me.” They can’t ask if I have a visual impairment even. For me personally, I wouldn’t mind saying I am visually impaired but there are many types of service animals and some service animals are for more personal medical conditions and therefore I totally understand and respect this law. If people do give me heck, I do carry around an ID card that says we graduated from a certified guide dog school and I do have the Texas and Federal laws on guide dogs with me at all times in my wallet. However, I am not required to show these and they aren’t allowed to ask for it. I can show it at my discretion though, of course. Then the undercover conversations resume again and the lady says she doesn’t know where the bounds are, a gentleman says he flat out doesn’t listen to any rules or regulations until he “actually gets headed off for it,” and “there are too many sheep in our society,” he claims. Umm, excuse me? That SAME dude then talks about him having a few biting incidents over the years. Um, okay, NO.
  7. Allergies and disease are great reasons to restrict pets from food places. And remember, a service dog is not a “pet.” However, our dogs are really well taken care of. They are groomed frequently (mine is groomed daily), we brush their teeth, they are given monthly heartworm and flea medications, they are caught up on their vaccines. There of course is still room for some disease, but that eliminates a good amount and by grooming the dog daily you actually do eliminate a lot of allergy problems. There will still be people that are allergic, severely allergic to dogs, and while the person with the service dog isn’t required to leave or do anything about it, most service dog owners will find a compromise that works for both individuals. We know what it is like to have it rough and wouldn’t wish that upon anybody.
  8. My dog is registered under the United States Service Dog Registry because that is something someone told me about but it is not required by law or even often suggested to register your dog. The comparison of how you have to register for a blue “handicap” placard but don’t for a service dog was effective. The Americans with Disabilities Act is pretty liberal on service dog fraud. I think there is a line though because having someone judge whether you have a legitimate service dog can get tricky and cumbersome. I’m not sure what the solution is though.
  9. The news mentioned how it’s a misdemeanor in California to fake your dog as a service dog so I wanted to look it up for Texas. It IS a misdemeanor here too.. woo! The news reporter also mentioned how it IS a hard law for police to enforce. There are some really well trained pets and some really “good” mock service dog vests out there. From stories I’ve read and videos I’ve seen of fake service dogs, some really good hints are dogs that leap after other dogs, dogs that expect to eat off the table and jump on things, dogs that relieve at random, dogs that do not look like they are performing a certain task, etc. On www.servicedogs.org, the law is stated:

    Penalties for Improper Use of Assistance Animals

    1. A person who uses an assistance animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained assistance animal when training of the type described in Section 121.002(1)(B) of this chapter has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200. (Faking that it’s an assistance animal is a criminal offense.)
  10. I like how the news reporter also brought up the point that therapy dogs, comfort dogs, and emotional distress dogs are NOT considered service dogs under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

When a non-service dog is faked as a service dog it really gives our service dogs a bad name and as I’ve said before puts a bad taste in the mouths of business owners and staff. The dogs wreck things, eat things, jump on things, bark, relieve, all things that our dogs are taught NOT to do in public and therefore make good service animals and are allowed in these places. It takes a LOT to train a service dog to be the way they are and that is why I emphasize so much about not reversing the training by petting a service dog, letting your dog confront the service dog, or faking your dog as a service dog.

So I mentioned above that it is really easy, unfortunately, to pull your dog off as a service dog. Do me a favor, Google “Fake service dog,” in the dropdown box where Google suggests searches, guess what pops up? “Fake service dog certification,” “Fake service dog vest,” and “Fake service dog tags.” Now PLEASE do not take this information and go make your dog a service dog, oh goodness please do not do that. I’m just expressing how easy nasty people have made it to get products to make your dog appear as a service dog.

To get a Service Dog ID (even though they aren’t legally allowed to ask for this so I’m not sure what the point is), one can go to: http://www.servicedogtags.com  One can also get a vest there, ID, collar, patch, certificate, etc. It’s just disgusting.

Service Dog ID

This is an example of a Service Dog vest anyone can buy online which makes their pet dog look like a service dog.
This is an example of a Service Dog vest anyone can buy online which makes their pet dog look like a service dog.

I understand loving your animal and wanting him/her to come with you. But are people really THAT LOW that they have to put individuals who are already at a disadvantage EVEN MORE at a disadvantage?

Another blogger shared with me a post she wrote on the subject. It shares the same opinion with different viewpoints. “Helper Parrots and Guide Horses” 

What are your thoughts on this? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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.

9 thoughts on ““You don’t see people faking a life-threatening illness to get a wish from Make-A-WIsh Foundation..” (Followup on Fake Service Dogs Post)”

  1. Thanks for the shout out to my “Helper parrots and guide horses” blog post, and thanks for this very, very informative post of your own. From firsthand experience using assistive technology to put blog posts together, I know that this particular post must have taken you hours to get up on your blog site. You did an excellent job, Jessica. THANK YOU so much for putting the energy into this, very, very helpful and very much appreciated.

    1. Good Morning. You are most certainly welcome. I thought it definitely shared another perspective and additional support for my reasons. I also like to share with my readers other viewers blogs that they might be interested in! 🙂 This post did take me a good chunk of time to put together, you are right. And it doesn’t help that I was a bit tired when I decided to write it but I didn’t want to leave it until today to write because I had SO much on my mind about it yesterday. I’m really glad you found this helpful. Talk to you soon, I’m sure.


  2. This website http://www.freemypaws.com/ seems to ENCOURAGE people to fake! They say by “registering” your pet as an emotional support pet you don’t have to pay fees on planes or at apartment complexes for you pet! I feel like law should be tighter on this, your sweet submissive dog could be in danger. Thanks for sharing, Jess!

    1. Katie!! Oh my goodness thank you so much for sharing this with me. I’ll have to add this to my post above. THAT IS HORRIBLE! I appreciate you reading my blog, love getting your feedback. I too feel that the law should be tighter on this. Hopefully that’ll happen soon, who knows I may even be involved in pushing for that.. I’d sure like to!

      Many thanks,

    1. It really is spreading rapidly. Part of me wonders why all of a sudden is this becoming such a huge problem? I’m glad you liked my post and I do agree it was a great news story done by NBC!

  3. One thing business owners *can* do is request that badly behaved dogs be removed from the premises. They can legally do that.

    A dog that is jumping on others, running around, barking, eating food, toileting randomly, is not under control and therefore – even if it is a legitimate service dog – business owners have the right to request the dog be removed.

    They can’t ask a person with a well behaved dog that is obviously under control and doing its job to leave, nor can they ask you to leave because someone’s afraid or allergic (although, as you said, we do what we can to mitigate that through grooming and keeping the dog “invisible”).

    As a service dog partner, I would probably leave if my dog got upset or misbehaved before the business owner could tell me to leave, but they are perfectly within their legal rights to expel badly behaved dogs in the same way they can expel badly behaved people.

    If more business owners would do this, either people who were faking their pet as a service dog would teach the dog to behave or they’d stop bringing their pets and passing them off as service dogs. Either one of these outcomes would reduce the potential harm to our service dogs.

    I don’t mind a well-behaved under-control pet (leashed and restrained from “socializing” with other dogs and people) in public. If more people taught their dogs manners and to be “invisible” in public, and dogs were a common sight, maybe it would reduce the constant interference we get from people wanting to pet our service dogs and play with them and order them about when we’re trying to take care of our business and run our errands.

    There’s got to be some solution that will satisfy both those of us who need service dogs and those who want to show off their pets. Passing pets off as service dogs isn’t the answer, but maybe applying stricter behavior expectations to pet dogs and allowing them somewhat greater access if they behave and being quick to expel them when they don’t will lead to a better dog society where our service dogs are at less risk from both people and other dogs when we’re out in public.

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