Thursday, October 15, 2015

One More Reason We Don't Need New Laws about Certification for Service Dogs

There are already laws in place about what qualifies a dog as a service dog and where they are allowed to go.  We don't need new laws because we already have laws.  They are just not being enforced very often.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a business is allowed to ask two questions when someone comes in with a dog.  Is that a service dog?  What tasks is the dog trained to perform?  If the handler answers yes, it is a service dog, and is able to say what tasks the dog is trained to perform, the business is supposed to take them at their work and allow the dog in.

Sure, people could lie and say there pet is a service dog.  They might make up something when asked about tasks, but I think that question would stump many fakers.  So simply asking the two questions allowed by law would screen out some fakers.   Not all, but some.

Now, under the ADA, businesses are allowed to ask a handler to remove a dog that is not housebroken or that is disruptive or behaves aggressively.  But often they don't. 

If they did, though, I think people with poorly trained dogs would soon stop taking them places.  I mean, why drag your pet dog to the store every time you go if every time you were asked to remove him?  That would be a big hassle.  You'd start leaving Fido at home, right?

Some states also have laws making it illegal to misrepresent a pet as a service dog.  I don't think those laws are enforced much, if ever, though.  But they could be.

Wouldn't it be easier to enforce existing laws than to pass and enforce new ones?


  1. To: Kelly & Issac
    Thank you for your post and understand and respect your thoughts and feedback. However I don't know what the answer is to be honest with you, I think possibly because there have been so many scenarios out there whereby people claim that they have a service dog and in reality, (sadly) its those people who have really ruined things for people who do have fully trained service dogs. I have been spending the past couple of years researching everything and anything about service dogs and sadly have read so many stories whereby people are acquiring fake service dog vests and other stuff to try to pass off one's pet dog as a service dog. in summary: Sadly a few bad apples have to create more challenges for those who are disabled and require the assistance of a service dog. Again thank you for your blog postings, I really have learned a lot of valuable FYI as I soon prepare to acquire my own service dog within the future.

  2. I live in Australia, where these dogs must be certified with a licencing system. Each state in Australia does it differently, but generally this is the deal.

    I agree - it's onerous to have to get an appointment, pay to see the doctor, get sign off etc. There's some costs involved (PAT has a cost, and that's the minimum standard for a dog in training here, the actual licencing test is a significantly higher standard.)

    I factor this into the costs of having the dog. They are a pittance compared to the real cost of the dog. The regular health checks are more frequent than the one off to get medical sign off, and it means that the licencing authority doesn't actually need to know your disability, just that you have a significant need for the dog and your medical practitioner agrees to it.

    I understand your points, I really do. I dread having to deal with my son's paperwork at the docs for anything, it's all a bit ridiculous how hard it is. I do believe however that the validity and control this gives owners, shops/businesses and the police/rangers/security is worth it. It means people can't lie easily.

    Here in Australia there's a very low incidence of people passing their animals off as service animals. I think a lot of that is because service animals are still relatively rare here, but it's also because the rules are rock solid and you can't lie. You either have the paperwork, or you don't. If you forget it at home your dog isn't allowed in. They don't check for it at the door, they don't ask to see it in a restuarant, but if your dog was being a annoying they have the right to see it (it doesn't list your disability, it's literally like a driver's licence - photo of dog, name of handler, name of dog, not a lot more detail), and the right to remove your dog from the premises if it's not in order.

    I sometimes wonder if the complexity of federal, state, local laws and lots of cross over in America make this sort of thing harder. A much simpler system here means that while each state makes their own rules on this, it's at a state level, and it's easier to keep track of.