The problem with faux service and support dogs

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There aren't many things that cause me to lose my cool. Some examples are animal abuse, abandoning dogs and getting rid of pets for selfish reasons. I have added one more to my list, and it's the ultimate in selfish pet ownership: people "claiming" their dogs are service or emotional support (ESA) dogs.

This lie is often used so that owners can travel with their dogs or take them places where pets are not allowed. It has negative repercussions for people with legitimate disabilities who require an animal in their everyday lives.

National registries for service and ESA animals have been advertising online and on television. They supply identification tags and vests. Some will even sell you letters from doctors you don't even know, saying that you require such an animal for medical or emotional reasons.

There is no such thing as a legitimate nationally registry. These registries are not valid, and they only care about making money. Shame on anyone who uses this service!

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs perform a trained service for the owner. Services can include helping to guide those with mobility, hearing or sight impairment; comforting those with post-traumatic stress disorder; and even early detection of seizures, diabetic attacks and other such life threatening, serious needs.

By law, service dogs can go anywhere with their owner including planes or trains, and they can live in any community or stay at any hotel. These dogs are well trained to be acceptable in public and do not cause any issues barking or being unfriendly. In most cases, members of the public should not touch these dogs while they are working.

The ADA also lays out provisions for emotional support dogs, who do not get all of the same privileges as service dogs. ESA dogs keep their owners calm and prevent extreme anxieties. They can travel on planes but not on trains. They are not necessarily allowed in certain public venues as it is up to a proprietor if they accept those animals.

This is the category most abused, often by owners of small breed dogs who think they should have the privilege of taking their dogs with them anywhere they wish.

In the next issue, I'll revisit the topic of fake support animals and go further into some facts and consequences. For an in-depth article on the subject in the meantime, visit www.outsideonline.com/ 2236871/stop-faking-service-dogs. I urge you to read more and confront anyone you know who is an abuser.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. ajbird@hargray.com

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