Monday, May 13, 2013

People Lying and Saying Their Dogs are Service Dogs

Just for the record... 

I have heard of three different people getting their dogs into places by telling people they are service dogs. This is disgusting. So let me explain why this is so fk'n wrong. Service dogs have to pass temperament tests and training, they have to be trained extensively so they are properly socialized... all of that takes about a year. A year of hard work, fun and training. Always watching for opportunities to reinforce - everywhere - what they are being trained that day or that week. Then comes the hard stuff. This has to be done in public and in a class with a service dog trainer!!!!! Then the arduous task of obedience with distractions and complex training where they have to spend another year to do things that require sequential commands. This takes at least six months. The training is intense. Part of it is done at home and in public and part in school where they are learning how to keep their focus even with distractions and other people and other dogs.

The average wait for a blind person to get a service dog is 3-4 years. When they get the dog then they spend time working out the special things that they need the dog to do for them. Things that they cannot do for themselves.

I have peripheral blindness from a brain injury. And serious vertigo when I walk on stairs, especially down them and up or down ramps and on uneven ground. Also sudden loud noises can trigger this and a sudden change in light. If I fell down and hit my head it could be at the very least serious or fatal. It could be fatal if I walked out in front of a car that I didn't see (or hear because I have to wear earplugs outside if it is at all windy so I don't fall down).  And Coco helps me with all of these things. Things that I can't do for myself. That is a service dog. They assist a person with at least three functions that they cannot do for themselves.

A therapy dog is not a service dog. It may ease a person's anxiety but it is not a service dog. However, these dogs also have to be trained and highly socialized and they have to pass tests to make sure that they will not react aggressively to other people or dogs (in a non-threatening environment).

People who have service dogs or therapy dogs have to learn how to be a handler.

This takes years. I have heard of three different people who figured out if they call their dog a service dog they can get it into an apartment. There is no note from a doctor, no exams that show what their problem is and no vet check or exams passed for the dogs or ID's. A person just decides they want to do what they want to do and they fk'n lie and say their dog is a service dog.

If they get caught the fine can go into the 10's of thousands, if their untrained dog attacks somebody. And no insurance will pay for any damages caused. Aside from being morally reprehensible this puts the trusting store owners, apartment managers and other people who live around these dogs in a position where they assume that this dog is trained and it will not be a threat to them or their pets.

I'm beyond pissed off about this. So feel free to pass this along to any one who thinks they can just call a dog a service dog and do what they want. Its wrong. There is no rationale that makes this right. Its fraud and it does real damage to the reputation of a service dog or a therapy dog that has been trained extensively by trainers for people who actually need a service dog because they are disabled. 

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