A Boston Globe article this week has the headline, "Pretending your pet is a service animal? That could soon be illegal."
It talked about the problem of people who buy service dog vests and certificates online to obtain some of the accommodations meant for real service dogs. This, of course, makes if even more difficult for those who actually need the assistance their service animal provides.
Here's an example of the real thing. We met Dodie back in 2011 when he was in training to be a hearing ear dog.
This weekend Dodie and other hard working service animals hope you will read this page of Frequently Asked Questions from the American's with Disabilities Act about real service animals.
Then when you see a dog off-leash and are told that she is a service dog, you'll know that is very unlikely. When you see a dog wearing a service vest acting up, you'll have your doubts. And, perhaps, you'll speak up when an acquaintance tells you they are going to buy a vest and get a certificate.
The Globe article is actually about a piece of legislation filed this session in Massachusetts. As originally proposed, this says, “A person who violates this section commits a civil infraction, punishable by 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months and/or pay a fine no more than $500.”
We will be following this bill and trying to think of ways to address this problem.
Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photos: ©2011 Penny & Ed Cherubino