There is an unsettling trend occurring across the country involving service dogs. Dogs are being presented as service dogs, when in fact they have not had the professional training required to be labeled as such.
This trend is causing undue stress to the many veterans who really do need service dogs to help them deal with such issues as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Many veterans benefit from having a trained service dog with them, if they suffer from issues such as PTSD,” said Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue (GOR). “Yet they are now being faced with additional stress because of people who are creating a rash of fake service dogs, leaving businesses unsure which are really true service dogs.”
Why are people engaging in presenting untrained canines as service dogs? Some want to be able to take their dog anywhere they like such as restaurants, public transportation or night clubs that ordinarily prohibit dogs accompany their owner. By displaying fake credentials, dogs gain entry into places where regular dogs are prohibited.
“The companies that are more discerning are the ones that position themselves as a reliable source for certified service dogs and convince people they are legit, when in fact they are giving you false credentials,” explains Jack Garcia, a volunteer investigator for Guardians of Rescue and retired FBI undercover agent.
Following are key issues GOR has observed and factors that set true service dogs apart from the imposters:
Simplicity - Because there is no official certification or process, people are able to obtain fake documents easily to carry with them.
Training - Service dogs undergo a great deal of costly training. They are trained to help with various disabilities, including diabetes, seizures, autism, and epilepsy, among others.
Behavior - Trained service dogs will assist the person, not protect them. They are trained to be quiet rather than bark or growl, and they are never disruptive. Also, service dogs will never sit on the person’s lap or on a chair because they are trained to stay on the floor beside their owner. An untrained dog may be disruptive or even pose a threat to those around them.
Limitations - According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the only question businesses can ask is whether the dog is a service dog.
Exclusions - Authentic service dogs must be non-aggressive. The DOJ reports that a business owner can exclude a service dog that is displaying aggressive behavior toward other people, including growling, acting vicious, or posing any threat to others.
“It’s a shame that some people feel it’s necessary to have fake service dogs,” added Misseri. “All they are doing is making it harder on those who really do need them and who have professionally trained ones. It costs us $5,000 to train these dogs for veterans, but people are paying $39 online for a certification card and no training. We are severely underfunded in trying to help these vets, and things like this are just making it more difficult for the vets who need these dogs.”
“I am outraged once again how veterans have to suffer," shared Jarrett Gimble, a former U.S. Marine who suffers from PTSD and has a service dog. “I recently attempted to go into a department store and wasn't granted permission because they believed my ID tags were fake, which caused me stress and was embarrassing.”
Guardians of Rescue is located at 34 East Main Street, Suite 303, Smithtown, NY 11787.
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