7 Unexpected Complications of Fake Service Dogs

SitStay Blog: 7 Unexpected Complications of Fake Service Dogs

Fake service dog usage is far too often viewed as a victimless crime. It keeps the owner happy and doesn't affect anyone else right? Wrong. Far from victimless, the decision to utilize a fake service dog has definite impacts on people as well as businesses. The most impacted are legitimate service dog owners.

1. Fake Service Dogs Are Illegal

Too many individuals who use fake service dogs believe at most if caught they will be turned away. Not so. Actually the penalties can be quite stiff, including thousands in fines and months of jail time. Service dog fraud is neither victimless nor punishment free.

2. Fake Service Dogs Interfere With Real Service Dogs

One of the more frustrating aspects of owning a service animal is when uncontrolled pets interfere with his or her ability to do his job. Service dogs have countless hours of training that drives them to remain calm and focus on the task and handler while ignoring all distractions. Fake service dogs however, do not. Instead their overly playful or dog aggressive nature can impact others, particularly if the dog gets loose and jumps on or attacks a service animal.

3. Service Dog Users Are Judged

Business owners often become annoyed at the all too frequent encounters with fake service animals showing aggression, using the bathroom indoors and otherwise being a huge nuisance. This can cause those with real service dogs to be loathed on sight and generally treated unfairly as yet another abuser of service dog public access rights.

4. Fake Service Dog Owners Insult The Disabled

People with real disabilities obtain a service dog. When others play pretend with their family pet or companion it is an insult to those who really need 24/7 assistance. Just as you wouldn't pretend to be a veteran for a free meal, please do not fake service dogs.

5. Fake Service Dog Usage Could Change Laws

Eventually, the constant bombardment of fake service dogs could start a push for federal law changes that make it more difficult for those who truly need service animals. There may come a time where they are asked to carry documentation or allow more interrogation and otherwise negatively impact legitimate service dogs.

For frequently asked questions about service dogs, including questions that businesses may and may not ask, please visit this ADA page

6. Fake Service Dogs Passive Impact

Individuals with a disability are forced to put up with all manner of disdain based on the presence of a service animal when public perception has been fouled by fakers. In some cases leaving their service dog at home or in the car when handling business may seem worth it just to avoid the negativity and conflict. What happens when the task the dog is trained for arises? In the case of blood sugar detection, seizure or cardiac alert dogs this could potentially result in death. Be mindful of the passive impacts and understand it is never "worth it" to fake a service dog.

7. Fake Service Animals Impact Businesses

Not everyone in the general public is aware of the distinct public access rights service dogs receive and may perceive allowing these animals inside as a choice. When fake service dogs act out, bite, beg, or jump onto tables and counters at businesses, customers may take their business elsewhere. True service dogs would never do these behaviors, but an uncontrolled fake service animal can drive business away.

Pets and companion animals are priceless to their owners, but simply are not service dogs. It is imperative to avoid abusing a system designed for individuals with an actual disability. Those who suffer from disabilities already have it difficult, and the conflict and poor attitudes born of illegitimate service animals acting out previously is undeserved.

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Mary Jo Koranda

Mary Jo Koranda said:

Thank you for this article. I work in a library where we run into fake service dogs occasionally. The difference between service dogs and “Emotional Support Animals,” is very difficult to parse out and enforce.

Sherry Noble

Sherry Noble said:

Thank you so much for the article, I wish we could shout this message from the mountain tops so all could hear. As a foster parent for Canine Companions I have seen first hand the hard work and training true service dogs go thru. I work as a veterinary technician and I am amazed at the number of clients who come in and say that they want a letter from the veterinarian so they can bring their pet into public buildings,restaurants, ect so they don’t have to leave “FeFe” at home. It baffles me how people can be so disrespectful to those who truly need the assistance of a service dog.

SherriLee Slade

SherriLee Slade said:

Thank you for sharing this message. I was just at UF Shanes Hospital in Fl. When I was sitting waiting for my Nero doctors RN to call me in for my app. I always travel with my SD which is a Great Dane. She not only does Stability but she also does Mobility for me. She is also for Seize control and Med Reminder and a few other things which I will not get into at this time.
A lady came in pushing a baby carriage which stated on the top Please don’t touch Service Dog! I was shocked at the Hand Written Note. I stepped up to the front desk and spoke with the ladies at the Receptionist desk. I ask do you realize that is not a SD? They informed me that they did know that it wasn’t but they couldn’t do anything about it. I was shocked! Here I have been training my dogs and other peoples dogs for many years so as they are perfect out in public and they are like well mannered little people and this woman comes in to one of the Doctors that I go to and she is pushing a baby carriage with a So called SD in it ? They had to be kidding me! My SD is Well behaved and doing all the right things minding all her P’s and Q’s as she is taught to do and this little dog in a baby carriage is growling at people just walking by it. It was making me very nervous I have to say.I asked to speak to the Office Mangier and the woman at the front desk refused to let me speak to her. Needless to say I have not been back to my Neurologist nor have I been back to UF Shanes. When such a large Hospital can over look a factor like that and then chastise a well maintained SD and tell me that I am not allowed to bring my SD to the Hospital when I am there after breaking my back. I have a few issues with that . But they will allow a small dog in a Baby Carriage to growl and carry on as such. I will stick to my Great Dane and her Gental Giant self.


Tonya said:

I am hearing impaired and have a small Havanese Service Dog who alerts me if I don’t see someone behind me or if danger is around like a fire alarm or car speeding towards me while crossing the road. I don’t know how many times people have let their children come up to my SD and to try to pet him. The vest clearly states, Hearing Service Dog and Please DO NOT PET. I’ve had people try to pick him up, one little girl was trying to pull his tail and my SD alerted me but every time I turned around the little girl ran back to mommy. I was kicked out of the store due to my dog finally giving a woof to let me know that something was really wrong because I didn’t know about the little girl and was ignoring him, and a nice lady told me what had happened so I had to go back in and try to explain that it’s against the law for anyone to harass my dog and they should be kicked out, not me, my SD was only doing his job to help me know that danger was behind me. I had some cards in my SD vest and gave it to the store manager and tried to get him to read it for his own good. If it wasn’t for the cards and a nice lady, I would have been kicked out of the store along with my Service Dog and it’s all because they’ve had so many fake SD come in and they thought only big dogs were real Service Dogs. I’m glad for this article. I wish you could put a commercial on TV where more people could be taught how to behave around a true Service Animal. It’s so embarrassing and frustrating to be hearing impaired and try to explain to hearing people why my Dog alerts me if I don’t know what is going on around me because I can’t hear it and don’t see it happening. My Service Dog does more for me than just helping me “hear” but also will pick up money if I drop it or remind me to eat or turn off the lights, etc. I need his help every single day all day long. He’s such a great Service Dog too. Very obedient and calm around anyone and other animals. Thank you for the article on true Service Dogs!

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