Would YOU show ID?

Would YOU show ID if it helped prevent fake service dogs from getting access to public establishments they shouldn’t be in and therefore harmed the reputation of service dogs in the eyes of public establishment owners and staff?

I have posted a few blog posts about fake service dogs. A fellow guide dog owner recently shared this link:


Fake service dogs are becoming more of a problem and really, it’s just ridiculous. One common suggestion is to require individuals with service dogs to keep ID’s on them that show their dog really is a service dog. Because remember as it is stands currently, an establishment is only allowed to ask someone two questions: 1) Is your dog a service dog? and 2) What tasks is your dog trained to perform? So with Makiko all I would have to answer is, “yes” and “guiding me.” Also remember that one can easily purchase service dog gear (and certification for that matter) online.

The reason these are the two questions only allowed to be asked is for privacy reasons. Guide dogs pretty much tell straight away what their handler’s disability is but some service dogs work with handler’s who don’t have so much of a visible disability, such as individuals with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or seizure alert dogs. These individuals appear to be “normal,” or without a disability but in reality they really do. So not requiring them to show ID protects their privacy.

Personally, I would be okay with being required to show a service dog ID. The way I see it is regardless of what type of service dog you have and if your disability is invisible or visible, the service dog alone shows that you have a disability. I’d also like to think that most people have a certain level of dignity and respect that if they ask for your ID they won’t go telling all the staff or others around what your disability is, if that was a concern of yours. Showing ID would then help deter individuals from portraying their pets as service dogs and getting access to places their dogs shouldn’t be allowed.

Remember, the reason it’s a big deal, as discussed in the article/video above, is service dogs more than likely have stellar behavior. Other dogs have been known to use the restroom, chew, bite, sniff, lick, smell, shed, and do other inappropriate things. This puts a bad taste in the staff’s mouths and a true service dog handler may not have the same level of care, access, and services that they would have been if the establishment didn’t have the bad experience with the fake service dog.

So if the federal government was to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act to allow establishments to be able to ask for identification, what is to say that people won’t get fake service dog IDs much like people get fake ID’s to get access to bars or other age restricted locations? There are already sites that sell fake service dog certifications, I can only imagine this business would grow if this were to become the law. And that disgusts me, it really does, but I don’t really know of a solution.

The other problem with that is currently a service dog doesn’t have to come from a professional school. Service dogs can be trained by an individual, even the service dog handler. So then what would happen when ID’s were mandated? Would these service dog handlers be required to go through a course or certification test? I don’t see a problem with that but it would be an additional obstacle that one would have to jump through to be able to get the same access rights as their peer service dog handlers who went through an official or certified school.

One last thing, even as the current ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is written, a dog who is jeopardizing the safety of another, such as trying to bite, or is defecating or something of that nature, the public establishment CAN ask the service dog to leave. Maybe if more asked dogs who exhibited bad behavior to leave, it would help weed out the fake service dogs? I’m not sure.

So here is my question to you, whether you are an able-bodied person, a person with a disability who also has a service dog, or a person with a disability who doesn’t have a service dog or is looking into getting a service dog in the future, how do you think the problem of fake service dogs should be remedied? Do you think requiring ID’s is the answer? I am really interested in what you have to say.

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.

6 thoughts on “Would YOU show ID?”

  1. I agree that fake dogs are a problem. I would have no issue with showing an ID. My only concern is who will be creating these IDs. To create a federal guideline and regulation would require a considerable amount of money. I don’t know that there are federal funds to do that at this point in time.

    The school my dog went through primarily worked with dogs for vets, but also occasionally trained dogs for people like me. They don’t have IDs for either, but the dogs are no less trained. My original plan was to go through a larger program, but with a waiting list of 2 years or more, I really had no option at that point.

    The current law gives leeway to business owners to ask people to leave if the dog is acting out. I think too many of them are afraid to do so out of fear of a lawsuit. They are also legally able to ask the questions shown in the post.

    Great question –

  2. All the recent articles and news stories about the ‘fakers’ who have purchased “certifications” and “ID” for their dogs online, and have been dragging them along for the ride in places where pets are prohibited has once again brought up the “National Certification” debate. Some see the issue as being easily resolved by having some sort of “Official US Government Service Dog ID” which is believed will magically eliminate access issues; while others see the danger which is inherent in allowing the government to decide who is worthy of being able to exercise their civil rights in the public venue, and who is not.
    I have always been opposed to the “Flash an ID and everything’s OK” mindset for many reasons, but have recently begun to see it become more insidious because of the controversy caused by the uptick in the number of ‘fakers’, the increase in access issues directly caused by the behavior of the ‘fakers’ and their dogs, the increase in attacks on and interferences with legitimate service dog teams by the ‘fakers’ and their pets, as well as the news coverage generated by all the previously mentioned incidents.
    While I can honestly see that some service dog handlers’ lives may be made a little easier by having some sort of “Official US Government Service Dog ID”, the numerous dangers, for me, far outweigh the supposed benefits that using one has to offer. The foremost issue for me is having to beg for the government’s permission to be able to freely travel in the public venue simply because one is a person with a disability, which is an affront to everything that Freedom, Responsibility, and the Constitution stand for, and an affront to the very core reason this country was founded.
    With that aside, let me ask a couple of questions that have been running around in my head concerning the application and use of a proposed “Official US Government Service Dog ID”. I would like to see if there are any intelligent answers which may help set my mind at ease.
    I propose a scenario: Let’s say that an “ID” program has been implemented and is in place for all 50 states and territories, and that proper education in recognizing the ‘official’ ID badge has taken place. (First off, this is highly doubtful, because the ADA has existed for at least a decade, and the majority of businesses and places of public accommodation STILL do not know what it is or how it applies. But for the sake of argument, let’s just say that proper implementation and education for an ID program has taken place.) So, the badge has been issued, is in place on the dog, and my wife is all set to go shopping. She approaches the front door and begins to enter, where she is stopped by an employee, and asked about whether or not her guide has the ‘badge’. She reaches down, finds the clip on hook, and proudly shows the employee her guides’ badge. The employee smiles, thanks her, and my wife and her guide move on inside the store, happily confident that this spells the end of any and all access issues, all thanks to her “Official US Government Service Dog ID” badge. But, wait! Soon, she comes around the corner of a display, where her guide keeps her from colliding with another store employee who is down on his knees stocking a shelf. He jumps back in surprise and immediately begins to question her about whether or not her guide has the ‘badge’. This brings us to a few questions:
    1. Just WHO gets to ask about the ‘badge’?
    Is it the greeters responsibility? What if the store does not employ greeters? The store manager? Assistant manager? The cashier? The lady behind the cosmetics counter? Some guy stocking the shelves? The guy brining in the shopping carts from the parking lot? The kid mopping out the restrooms? Anyone at anytime for any reason?
    2. WHAT is allowed to be asked?
    Just something generic about what the dog does? Specifics concerning the person’s disability? How the person became disabled? Only to see the ‘badge’? Anything at anytime for any reason?
    3. WHEN and WHERE does the asking occur?
    When first entering the store? In the parking lot? At the front door? As one is checking out? When using the pay phone in the lobby? When one is perusing the produce? When exiting the restroom? Anywhere at anytime for any reason?
    4. HOW many times in the same venue will one have to show the ‘badge’?
    Only on entering? When one crosses some threshold into another section of the mall/store/business? Every 5 minutes just to be sure? What happens if the service dog team leaves one area only to return a half hour later? Will they have to show the ‘badge’ again? What happens when a shift change occurs, and there are new staff coming on duty? Will the ‘badge’ need to be shown again to all the ‘new’ staff? Will it need to be shown anywhere at anytime for any reason?
    Can you begin to see the logistical nightmare of trying to implement a type of “ID” program like this? Can you begin to see the intrusion into the daily lives of people with disabilities who are just trying to get by doing things that the ‘normals’ take for granted every day?
    “Oh, but other countries have done it successfully”, you say. Indeed. I ask: At what cost to the disabled person’s privacy? Are you really trying to compare a country the size of the state of Nevada to the entire US? Do you really want a government controlled service dog program that eliminates owner-training, which is what other countries have done?
    No, an “ID” program for the US at this time is a simpleton’s non-solution to a problem that would not exist if the laws which are currently in place are followed and enforced. Adding more ineffective and easily bypassed laws and requirements, which only burden the people they are supposed to protect, is not the answer.

  3. I actually read this yesterday but the newspage would not load. But now I’m somewhere that there is no sound, so I’ll wait until later to watch the video. (I just saw that there are subtitles, but ehh… I’d rather be able to listen and read the subtitles at the same time. xP)

    Anyway, yesterday, I wasn’t completely sure how to answer this question. But today, I’m leaning towards that IDs should be required if it becomes a huge problem (which it is sounding like.) If you really need the service animal, even if it is for an ‘invisible’ disability, then you shouldn’t be shy to show the ID, like how people who really need glasses should wear them. I know they could just wear contacts to be less obvious about it, but still… You need to admit you need help in order to get help kind of thing… I guess… Plus, the ID doesn’t necessarily have to give all the details.

    Nevertheless, if it would make it more difficult for people who do not go through official programs, it will be more a question of if it will be worth it. I would like to say it would be better that they go through a certification test to ensure the ‘quality’ (for lack of a better word) is par with one from an official school/class than allowing animals who have not been through any training whatsoever to ‘disquise’ themselves as service animals. At least, what I have in my mind would be similar to getting your driver’s license: you can take an official course or (I guess this may just be for minors over 16 in Texas) do a parent taught course. Then, you take a test in order to get your license (even though I think some courses now have you take the test as part of the course so you don’t have to do it at the DMV?). Of course, it will not completely solve the problem. There will likely still be people who will make fake IDs, but it seems to me that it would be more difficult to do so.

    Then again, the closest thing to a disability I have is that I *need* glasses to clearly see anything not right in my face (my mom jokes that I need glasses to find my glasses, hahaha,) and the hearing in one of my ears is not as good as my other. I’m not completely sure how practical this will be, but it does seem like a good idea and worth pursuing. (And perhaps if I have time, I may do more research myself.)

  4. t should not be that difficult to PROVE that your dog is a certified Service dog. It would be just like writing a prescription from the Drs. Office. You have to go have eye exams anyways a proof for the Guide Dog Schools so the Dr. could write a script stating that you meet the requirements visually for a Guide Dog or any other Service Dog. Just like the Goverment knows that we are disabled, those of us needing animals could have an ID supported by the Government like a Medicaid card or a Socail Security card stating that it is a legitimate Service Dog. Doesn’t have to state what the disability is….only that the person with the dog has been deemed to qualify or the dog is qualified as a service dog and as one dog retires and a new one emerges, then the owner just produces the proper information to the Dept. of Social Services just like you have to recertify every so often. I don’t know why it has to be so difficult.

  5. I got my Guide Dog from an accredited Guide Dog School. When the class was over (28 days later) I received an ID card with the name of the School on it along with their phone number and address, My name on it, my dogs name on it and a picture of me with my Guide Dog on the other side. as well as the registration number of that dog and the graduating date. Also, the harness that I got with the dog had the name of the School engraved into it and also have a tag with that info on it that hooks to his collar like a rabies tag does. I’ve had no problems anywhere but do keep my ID card in the pouch on my sign “DO NOT PET” which is hooked to my harness so that I always have it with me.

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