Going to the Dogs – The Growing Problem of Fake Service Dogs


We, as Idahoans, are facing a growing health crisis! The cases where disease passes on from dog to man are on the upswing. As we bring our dogs and cats into the house we bring in the probability of flea and tick infestation. This increases the risk of pet borne pests. Diseases such as Lyme disease, a debilitating and extremely painful disease contracted from the bite of an infected tick are being reported in people more often.

Most of these animal-borne diseases aren’t too difficult to treat if caught early. Late diagnosis can leave permanent problems and even death.

Here is the problem: The ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] was enacted so that handicapped and otherwise physically challenged folks could be assured access to public areas such as businesses, public transportation, etc. The ADA, in principle, is a wonderful piece of legislation. But it’s not perfect. Its imperfections allow hundreds of thousands of scammers and fraudsters to abuse this act by exploiting its provisions.

For example: Folks bring their dogs into supermarkets and other places where food is open, unpackaged, or being prepared. Yes, this is in violation of most local health codes and even state law, but they do it anyway while store or restaurant management often turns a blind eye.

Why would management do this? The answer is simple. In the litigious world of today, they’re afraid of being sued or bad publicity or both. A policy at Walmart stores [at least the one in Garden City, Idaho] is that staff and security are only allowed to ask someone if their dog is a service dog. Regardless of how obvious it may be that the customer is lying through his or her teeth, they are required by store policy to let them shop … doggie in cart. Remember, it’s a violation of Federal Law to put dogs in grocery carts.

That’s right. A dog in the cart means that someone’s dog is free to rub its butt and private parts all over the shopping cart.

This cart may one day carry your food or infant child. NOTE: Walmart, by their own admission, does not sanitize their shopping carts! I don’t know of a supermarket that does. You can put your purse, food, baby, etc. in that cart and no matter how well you wipe it down the danger of infection is still there! It’s very real!

Tales of ducks on airplanes, horses on buses, and dogs in supermarkets and restaurants are mostly true. Every day Idahoans open themselves to increased risk of infection and worse through apathy and ignorance.

Okay, so you are a strapping, healthy young person with a terrific immune system. You’re ‘probably‘ okay. What if you are very young [such as an infant] where your immune system is still developing? What if you’re very old with a suppressed immune system? Folks on immune-suppressing drugs are at increased risk. A large segment of our seniors suffers from one or more conditions requiring them to take drugs which, either by design or effect, suppresses their immune system to some extent.

These are the potential victims of the thousands of scam artists and frauds who shamelessly bring their pets into public areas such as restaurants and food stores. They don’t care … but you should!

Here is the solution: We need legislation to standardize and certify service animal training and accreditation. They could call it the SAA Act [Service Animal Accreditation Act]. This bill could assure that true service animals are given their due, and that fakes and frauds are uncovered and fined or jailed!

The State of Florida has passed a fake service dog law, a law that allows punishment of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail for anyone who tries to scam by misrepresenting their dog as a ‘Service Dog‘. See the link below:

At least 19 states including Florida have enacted laws to stem the flow of fraudulent service dogs. You can buy ‘Service Dog‘ vests almost everywhere online, and even register your dog with numerous online scam artists who provide you with fake papers, etc. But this will get you in trouble in those states which have already enacted fake service dog legislation.

One such ‘diploma mill’ for what are actually fraudulent papers for your dog has a link: www.esaregistration.org

We need this legislation here, in Idaho. Service animal fraud is rampant and increasing daily. I call on legislators to produce legislation that is in line with the growing number of states nationwide and stem the flow of ‘service dog‘ fraud here in the Gem State.

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