Makiko and I hope everybody has been doing well. It sure is hot here in Texas! Remember, any dog owner (service dog or not) needs to remember to protect your baby’s paws with boots in this heat. If you can’t put your hand down for 5 seconds on the sidewalk without it hurting, neither can your baby!
We have been keeping pretty busy with work, getting the new alumni chapter started for Texas, traveling a little bit, and packing up my Mom to move to Colorado. In the meantime though, we had the opportunity to be featured in two very cool stories about fake service dogs and the impact they have on individuals with disabilities who use service dogs.
The first one was the Denton Record Chronicle, our local newspaper. I think they did a FANTASTIC job on the actual written story AND the video. I’m just so thrilled. They used person first language, didn’t take the whole “pity the disabled” take on it, and really showed how a service dog can help a person with a disability be an equal and have the independence and freedom they deserve. Both Caitlyn (the reporter) and Jeff (the photographer/videographer) genuinely cared about this issue and were such a pleasure to work with. Check out the video and article here: http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20160613-denton-woman-with-legitimate-service-dog-businesses-frustrated-with-people-abusing-practice.ece
NBC5 saw this article and contacted me to do their own story. I was very excited that they too felt that this was an important issue. Ben Russell was the reporter and he was so genuine. He has won many Emmy Awards for his reporting too, so that’s kinda cool. They had told me they were coming to my apartment so I cleaned like a mad woman and what I couldn’t put up, I stuffed into rooms that they wouldn’t go in. 🙂 When they got there, they actually decided to film outside.. where it was HOT and I was sweating. They took a lot of footage and I feel they aired the part I was the least articulate in, but hey, they covered the story and genuinely cared. They continued to spread the message which is the most important. Here is the link: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Fake-Service-Dogs-Being-Passed-Off-As-Genuine-384664391.html
I had a few goals of what i wanted to express in one or both of these stories. I wanted to highlight these beautiful animals and how they help people with disabilities. I wanted to continue the discussion about how so many people are negatively impacted by “fake service dogs” (really “fake service dog handlers”) and finally, I really wanted to hit home the point that businesses have rights too and if a service dog or a dog that someone claims is a service dog is not housebroken, barking, or otherwise seriously disrupting the business, they can be asked to leave. Businesses can also ask those two questions by law and I have heard where fake service dogs are caught because handlers say they aren’t allowed to ask those two questions or something of the sort, which shows that they don’t really know the ADA, as any true service dog handler should.
It’s kind of fun to read the comments on the article itself and on Facebook for these stories. Of course there are those negative people or people who disagree. I politely responded to one of them with a very strong point contrary to what they were saying and you could tell they were taken aback by it. It’s also interesting to see how many business owners, airline staff, and housing staff have been affected by this and appreciate the awareness this issue is getting.
It’s sad that this is a growing issue. I personally don’t think certification is the answer because there would be many implications of this. Why should I have to show an ID every time I enter a business just because I choose to use a service dog as my medical equipment? That’s really what she is, by law. People who use a wheelchair, walker, or hearing aids don’t have to show an ID when they walk in a business for their medical equipment. Now, I do recognize that their equipment isn’t an animal and I get that point, but it’s still not right. Some have made the point that it would be similar to getting carded when you’re 21 and ordering an alcoholic beverage. That could potentially work but I kind of tend to be a little negative and feel that businesses would just abuse this and ask all the time. Logistically speaking, I think certification would be pretty difficult because there would have to be one certifying body to certify program trained service dogs and owner trained service dogs. Just think about that. While I’m not a fan of certification, something is going to have to be done about this issue and I’m not quite sure what that would be. In the meantime, we DO need to continue to educate businesses of their rights and spread more awareness. It’s not fair to businesses, rental properties/housing establishments/hotels, airlines, or true service dog owners and service dogs, to have to be so negatively affected by fake service dogs.
What do you all think?