Advocates Fight Against Service Dog Fraud

Advocates Fight Service Dog Fraud

Written by K9 Partners for Patriots

April 19, 2021

Discover why flea markets may not be the best environment for service dogs.

Learn about risks, distractions, and considerations for handlers.

1. Crowded Environment: Flea markets are often bustling with crowds, which can be overwhelming for a service dog. The dog may become stressed or anxious in such a busy atmosphere.

2. Distractions: Flea markets are filled with various sights, sounds, and smells that can distract a service dog from its duties. This could potentially compromise its ability to assist its handler effectively.

3. Unpredictable Behavior of Other Animals: Other visitors to the flea market may bring their pets along, which can lead to encounters with unfamiliar animals. This may pose a risk to the safety and focus of the service dog.

4. Risk of Injury: With so many people moving around and browsing items, there’s an increased risk of accidental tripping or stepping on the service dog, which could lead to injury.

5. Exposure to Unsanitary Conditions: Flea markets may not always maintain the cleanest environment, and the service dog may come into contact with unsanitary surfaces or substances.

6. Lack of Accommodation for the Dog: Flea markets may not be equipped to handle service dogs properly, such as providing suitable resting areas, water, or relief spots for the dog.

7. Potential Stress for the Dog: A flea market’s constant stimulation and unfamiliar surroundings could cause stress or discomfort for the service dog, which may affect its overall well-being and ability to perform its tasks.

Given these factors, it’s important for service dog handlers to carefully consider whether taking their dog to a flea market is truly necessary and in the best interest of the dog’s welfare and effectiveness in assisting its handler.

Misrepresentation of Service Dogs harms the disabled, confuses the public, and affects the reputation of legitimate service dog users. Fake service animals pose a danger to the public and genuine service dogs.

Service Dogs perform meaningful work that enhances independence for adults and children with physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities.

Federal laws provide special accommodations to the disabled utilizing service dogs and limit the questions that businesses may ask about their disabilities. Unfortunately, people who fraudulently misrepresent their dogs as service animals are abusing these laws. Misrepresentation harms the disabled, confuses the public, and affects the reputation of legitimate service dog users. Fake service dogs pose a danger to the public and genuine service dogs.

Advocates Fighting The Service Dog Fraud Epidemic

In response to this ongoing problem, The American Kennel Club released a policy position statement on the Misuse of Service Dogs in 2015. In 2016, The Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans created CGC Plus, a minimum standard of training and behavior for the service dogs their members provide to veterans. The CGC Plus requires service dogs to pass the AKC Canine Good CitizenCommunity Canine, and Urban CGC tests and demonstrate proficiency in performing three randomly selected services for a disabled person. The 2016 federal PAWS bill incorporated the AKC CGC into service dog requirements for Veterans’ Administration-funded dogs.

Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans
American Kennel Club

States Respond by Passing Stricter Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it a federal crime to pass your pet off as a service animal. Unfortunately, it’s rarely enforced.

State and local governments continue to introduce and pass laws that make it an offense to misrepresent a service animal. Misrepresenting a dog as a service animal in Florida is punishable by a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

Currently, 31 states ban the fraudulent representation of a pet as a service animal. Five additional states have laws that criminalize some aspect of service animal fraud. And still, the problem of fake service dogs remains.

“Legitimate” Service Dog Credentialing System

Fraudulent and poorly trained service dogs are inundating airlines, restaurants, hotels, and other access providers. Legitimate service dog teams are facing skepticism as well as hazards from fake and poorly trained “service dogs.”

The lack of unified behavioral standards for true service dogs as defined by federal law only perpetuates the confusion and issues surrounding service dog fraud. 

The American Service Dog Access Coalition (ASDAC) is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to reducing the burdens faced by disabled individuals when traveling with service dogs. They’re dedicated to improving access for legitimate service dog teams while incentivizing high-quality behavioral standards for all service dogs and educating the public about the crime of service dog fraud.

The American Service Dog Access Coalition is comprised of major service dog groups, service dog access providers, advocates for the disabled, service dog trainers, and policymakers.

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