If you fake your dog as a service dog, it is breaking a federal law, and in most states it is breaking a state law too. However, it is also against the law for businesses to really ask questions of the handler or “handler” (depending on if it’s a real service dog or not) to be able to find out if the dog is legitimate or not. This is what causes such a huge problem for those of us with disabilities who do rely on service dogs. Remember, by law a business (airline, restaurant staff, hotel, etc) can only ask two questions: Is this a service dog? What was this dog trained to do?
That’s it. They can’t ask any more. No papers are legally required to verify that your dog is a trained service dog, nor are any papers required to show that you have a disability. I get this, it is great for privacy reasons for individuals with disabilities, especially because many of the individuals with service dogs have invisible disabilities. However, then one may think, “Well if they have a service dog, that is a huge indicator that the individual has a disability, so why wouldn’t they want to provide identification?” Well, then that gets into privacy reasons and how much you would want a hotel staff person, restaurant staff person, etc., to really know about you. Even if it doesn’t say much, is it really their business? That just opens a whole new can of worms. However, that may be necessary one day if this fake service dog epidemic doesn’t get under control, but there is going to need to be some serious discussion and thought put into that first.
So why did I label this post “double whammy”? It’s illegal to fake your dog as a service dog, but it’s really illegal for most people to get the information to prove or learn that it is a fake service dog. The people who aren’t aware of the law or service dogs won’t know that it’s not a legitimate service dog and the people that are only a little knowledgeable may be too scared to break the law to really ask. I hope this made sense. I have posted several times about fake service dogs before so if you have any questions please feel free to go read those posts or ask here. I’d love to answer them. 🙂