Non-profit agency Canine Companions for Independence is circulating a petition to the U S Department of Justice to urge them to take action against fake service dog/assistance dog products.
These products, mostly sold online, fraudulently portray a dog as an assistance dog. As service animals, they will be permitted inside grocery stores, restaurants and other public places where family pets are otherwise not allowed.
As a result of these acts of fraud, people with disabilities who have a legitimate need for an assistance dog face added discrimination and are being denied access to public places, which is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I’m a big supporter of dog-friendly workplaces, hotels, and shopping (as evidenced by the postings on this blog), but I do not support gaining access through fraud. My biggest concern is that people with disabilities and their dogs may be discriminated against because members of the public will lack confidence in service dog certification systems. (‘That’s a service dog? Yeah, right.’)
As an example, check out last month’s publicity when Air New Zealand allowed access to two French bulldogs whose owners carried papers certifying them as psychiatric dogs. Air New Zealand obeyed the law but the scepticism of the journalists and public who commented on the article was clear.
We simply can’t afford to have the public doubt the authenticity of assistance dog and service dog training programmes. If you agree with me, please support this cause and sign the Canine Companions petition here.