Stop Faking Service Dogs
I’m kind of appalled that this is even an issue. However, people do have a tendency to be selfish. So, why not about “service dogs” as well? Few people love their dog more than me, but I’d never ever dream of slapping a fake service dog vest on her for the sake of taking her into restaurants and establishments that don’t typically allow dogs.
Why faking service dogs is damaging:
First of all, there are people that legitimately need their service dog at their side at all times. Service dogs come in a huge variety and are trained to perform many special tasks. Some protect against health issues; they can sense when their person is about to have a seizure or if their insulin levels are dropping. Others provide a very special sense of security for people with severe anxiety or veterans who suffer from PTSD.
Genuine service dogs are amazing animals. And, when someone impersonates one just for the sake of sitting with their dog in a restaurant, it hurts those people who actually need to have their service animals.
Service dogs are specially selected and trained. When selecting an animal, they are required to have a very specific disposition in most cases. Rowdy or energetic dogs don’t usually make the cut. If you’ve ever been privileged enough to be around a genuine service animal, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They are calm, focused, and have better manners in public than a lot of people I know.
This calm disposition is not found in all dogs. Most dogs are curious and social (and that’s okay). They’re interested in meeting people and excitable in social situations or when other animals show up. All of this is fine and dandy on a normal day – but it’s not okay in settings where dogs are typically unwelcome.
When I am sitting down to a nice dinner, I don’t want to have to worry about dogs barking inside the restaurant. Or, a dog meandering over my table to beg for morsels. As much as I love dogs, I also understand that they can be disruptive. When I see this kind of behavior from a dog wearing a vest, I know it’s a fake.
As it stands right now, there’s no way for business owners to verify legitimate service dogs. And, when enough impostors come into an establishment, cause commotion or discomfort for normal guests, then all dogs, including service dogs, will be barred from the establishment. This keeps people who need their animal from enjoying the things that normal people can enjoy just because someone thought it would be cool to dine with their doggo.
Want to do things with your dog? Go the extra mile.
If you want to include your dog in more of the social aspects in your life, I think that’s awesome. I love to take my dog places. However, impersonating a service dog is scummy and not the way to do it. I love taking my dog places. She’s calm, friendly, and mellow and does well almost anywhere. In order to be able to include her more in my life, I do research ahead of time.
We love to take her on weekend and short vacations. She’s a shelter pet and has some separation anxiety when my husband and I leave her for extended periods. So, we always try to make an effort to include her when we can. We have planned many trips around the dog. We book dog friendly hotels and lodging, and we eat at restaurants that have patios for guests who want to bring their dogs.
I like to use apps like “Bring Fido” and always call ahead of time to verify. It really doesn’t take that much effort to include your dog in your social life.
So, do everyone a favor and don’t impersonate service dogs. They are there to do a very special and necessary job for someone and aren’t there for enjoyment. Please be respectful.
What are your thoughts?
Let us know in the comments!
Here in famously pet-friendly Los Angeles, I encounter dogs that are blatantly not service animals on a daily basis. Recently, during a morning visit to my local café, I laughed when a woman whose tiny dog was thrashing around at the limits of its leash and barking fiercely at other customers loudly proclaimed that it was a service animal.