Uninformed people sometimes see a service dog in public and think how cool it would be if they could bring their dog with them wherever they went. Some of these people actually go so far as buying a vest and putting a fake patch on it so that they can take their dog out into restaurants, movies, stores, etc. What these people don’t seem to realize is faking a service dog can be very harmful in many ways. A service dog certificate means a lot of things, and it is important to understand how important it is to respect this community.
Makes Things Even Harder for Service Handlers and Their Dogs
Many able-bodied people do not realize that handlers of service dogs go through a lot of judgment and questioning. Even with laws in place to protect them, some are still asked for papers or questioned about the legitimacy of the dog.
Service dogs and their handlers go through rigorous training that prepares them not only to help medically and emotionally but also how to act in public. Fake service dogs who do not have this training will often exhibit poor behavior and manners while in the community. Doing this while wearing a ‘Service Dog’ label can lead to difficulties and challenges for those who are legitimately in the service dog community.
With easy access to social media, this becomes an even greater problem. If someone encounters a fake service dog that is causing a ruckus or is being disruptive, their experience may be tweeted or sent out as a rant on Facebook. This can make even more people cautious or suspicious of the next service dog that they see. In truthfulness, it is very easy to tell the fake and real ones apart when you look at how they behave and act in public. Real service dogs are focused on their handler, calm, well-mannered, and unobtrusive.
Fake Service Dogs can Distract Real Ones
A service dog certification indicates that the dog has gone through specific training to assist their handler. In fact, these dogs are working all the time, even if it doesn’t appear so. A dog may be continuously watching their handler for signs of a seizure or low blood sugar, or he may be a source of mobility and balance support. An untrained dog may get excited or agitated around the service dog and cause some kind of distraction. This can be cause a lot of harm and injury to the handler if the dog takes its attention away for even a couple of seconds.
Interfering with a service dog and his handler is considered to be a crime. If it is found that someone knowingly interfered with this team, criminal charges could be brought up against the perpetrator.
Hurtful Towards Disabled Individuals
Putting a fake vest on your dog or making comments like “I wish I could take my dog everywhere with me” is extremely rude and hurtful. Service dogs are what they are because their handlers are disabled. They perform tasks that their owners are unable to, and they keep an eye out for medical issues as well. Respect what service dogs do and what a service dog certificate means to the dog and to its owner.