Today I’m delivering a trained service dog to his family. I think about that only last week this placement may not have been possible. Last week we were training two service dogs in the mall. While we were there a “Service Rottweiler” lunged at us, and pulled the leash away from his owner while she dined.
Thankfully, nothing happened, our service dogs were stars. However, one week later this dog will have a young boy attached to the leash. How would this have played out if the situation was slightly different?
If that Rottweiler was able to get to our service dogs we were training, we would have potentially had to remove them from our program, and disappoint the child that has waited a year to get this dog. When walking in a mall with a child with a disability, the last thing a mother wants to worry about is a fake service dog lunging to attack their child’s service dog.
Special needs individuals and families are accustomed to having others pass judgment when they are out of their home. We often hear how much a service dog helps with outings. An individual with anxiety disorder can now go to the grocery store, a family with a child on the spectrum is now able to go to parks, malls, and school. A service dog helps explain that their may be more going on than meets the critical eye of the community.
The epidemic of fake service dogs is now putting an additional burden on families. Well intentioned people are questioning the validity of their service dogs, assume anyone with a dog is scamming the system. Perhaps this quick evaluation of an individual can set back an individual who is suffering from severe PTSD or anxiety disorder back in to the solitude of their home.
What can you do? Approaching someone with a service dog you think is not legitimate is not appropriate. There are laws to protect those who need a service dog, and what they need the service dog for really is no one else’s business, regardless if you think the service dog is not legitimate. What you can do your best to help educate people you know that are violating the service dog rules to reconsider their actions.
Some very important individuals are counting on you to help spread the word about fraudulent service dogs.