Phony Service Animals Becoming a Big Problem

When most people think of service animals, they think of service dogs. These dogs are trained to assist people with physical disabilities and are allowed in public places pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. They must have proper credentials. Only dogs and miniature horses can qualify as service animals under the ADA.

But therapy animals, who help people with issues like PTSD and anxiety, are becoming more and more popular. Therapy animals—not only dogs, but cats, rabbits, roosters, or even snakes—are not covered under the ADA and do not need to be certified. While there are some that have been trained, many are not. This leaves a lot of room for abuse. Unscrupulous pet owners can purchase fake vests and certificates online, and business owners are limited in the questions that they can ask when someone brings an animal into their business: "Is this a service animal?" and "What task is that animal trained to do?"

Further reading:

Michael D. Bates, "Anger over fake service dogs has people snarling at those with the real thing," Miami Herald, Mary 15, 2016,

Katie LaGrone, "Is the law doing enough to crack down on phony service pets?" WPTV, May 5, 2016,

#serviceanimals #May2016

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