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Fake Service Dogs: The Social Effects of Faking A Disability
Fake service dogs are not new, but the massive increase in numbers and media attention is frightening. Faking service dogs is not a crime that has no victims. It is not only illegal; it is a moral and social crime. Here's a trendy article on some real jobs service dogs do.
Iím not going to reiterate the problems outlined in others article like this one, this article, and this article. Iím going to talk about this as a long-term social problem. Social change happens all the time, and it doesnít always have a positive impact. The behavior of being glued to a phone 24/7 is considered normal now, whereas you didnít see it ten years ago. Whether or not that is positive or negative is debatable.
I find this idea to be shameful.
By pretending to have a fake service dog and / or faking a need for a service dog has these detrimental social effects.
1. It is making a mockery of people who need service dogs. Service dogs are being used for a variety of conditions that may not have visible cues including epilepsy, mental/emotional disorders, and diabetes. I have heard of people claiming to have these conditions when defending their fake service dog status, and it isnít funny.
It is not funny to be physically immobilized, lack your sight, or hearing ability It is also not funny to live in a state of constant alert in case you have a seizure, panic attack, or fall into a diabetic coma. You should think long and hard about what it is like to live with a disability before you even think about pretending you have one. Making a joke out of serious condition(s) is downright rude and unacceptable.
This is my beloved late trainer, Dick Shumer, and his service dog, Buddy. Buddy is a Newfoundland.
Service dogs and their handlers should be treated with respect. Making it difficult to distinguish a real service dog from a fake service dog only creates a cloud of suspicion on top of the social biases that already exist. Donít make it harder for people with service dogs by making people leery of dogs wearing a vest. Hereís an post I wrote on how restaurants can provide better service to service dog and handler teams.
This is a photo of my late trainer, Dick with Chase and Buddy, his service dog. During water rescue training, Dick would throw his cane overboard. Buddy would jump into the water, retrieve the cane to the boat, tow the boat into shore, and help Dick get out of the boat. They were an amazing team to watch.
I don't have the right answer for what to do if you encounter someone with a fake service dog. Iím just here to tell you that it is not acceptable to try to pass your pet off as a service dog. It is illegal, rude, and behavior that has long-lasting detrimental social effects on others. Letís maintain a culture where faking a service dog is socially unacceptable.
This dog was rescued from an unsafe environment in Summer of 2013. Elsie is currently training to be a service dog in Oklahoma City.
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