Confession: My “Service Dog” Is a Total Fraud

Fake service dog cartoon

Original illustration by Vicky Bowes for Pets Adviser. All rights reserved. Vicky is an artist and illustrator based in the Pacific Northwest. Check out her website at http://vickyspetportraits.com


Editor’s Note:
This is part 2 of a six-part series, “Fake Service Dogs, Real Problem.” (You can go back to Part 1 here.) The following article was written by Stacy Fromgolds.

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Fake Service Dogs, Real Problem - Part 2 New Yorkers, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me walking the streets in Manhattan. Maybe you’ve seen me in the grocery store with my service dog, or running into the coffee shop to pick up a latte with him.

I don’t stay for too long. Most of the time, I get “carded,” so I flash his credentials, which are kept in my wallet and on his safety vest. Then on rare occasions, they’ll examine his tags — which all note that he’s a registered service dog.

No questions asked. Why would there be? I have a big dog, and they probably figure, Why would she lie? For a business it’s against the law, not to mention just plain rude, to ask someone why she needs a service dog.

Here’s the thing. I am lying. My pet is not a real service dog. I don’t have any disabilities that would cause me to need one (unless you count having some mental issues from time to time, but who doesn’t?).

So Why Do I Do It?

Before we get to the “why,” let’s first talk about the “how.” I simply paid $50 on the United States Service Dog Registry website to get a kit that provided me with incredibly official-looking credentials. (We’re talking digital watermark, security foil hologram, color-shifting printing, the whole works.) Here’s a photo of the package:

Service dog registration materials

I think all this is worth $50. Don’t you?

Even though the US Service Dog Registry looks and sounds official, it states in fine print at the bottom of the site, “Not affiliated with any government agency.” And anyone can go on the site. You can register your dog for free, and they’ll give you a confirmation number that any official could easily type into the site to “verify” your dog — that is, if they really wanted to make the time and take the hassle to make sure you’re not full of crap. There are other websites like this too.

I know, I know. You want to know why someone like me would go to the trouble of lying about something like having a service dog.

Frankly, I just really like having my dog with me. Is that so bad?

Think of it this way. You’re at a restaurant, and there’s a screaming child running around disrupting your meal. Then there’s a service dog, calmly chilling on the floor. Would you rather sit by that noisy kid? Or would you rather sit next to the dog quietly chilling on the floor next to his owner?

Let’s assume that I can’t have children and that my dog is all I have. Would you see my point in why I’d want to bring him along almost everywhere? Who’s it really bothering if I make sure he’s in line and I’m going about it the right way? Who really has to know? Whose business is it, really?

Go Ahead, Think I’m a Horrible Person

Go ahead and send me hateful comments. It’s really none of my business or concern what you say about me behind my back. I’m admitting that I do this, so I can’t be all that bad.

I’m actually going about this the right way so I won’t mess things up for others. I’m not running around bragging about it and throwing it in people’s faces about how easy it is to do. It is easy. Very easy.

I had a friend who flew with her dog on an international flight to Turkey using the identical documents I had bought on the internet. If you do this, check the animal policies of the country you’re traveling to.

Service dog miniature poodle Department of Transportation rules require U.S. airlines to accommodate passengers with service animals and allow human and canine alike to sit in the cabin together on flights. However, don’t be an idiot about it. Even though any breed or type of dog can legitimately be a service dog, according to certain regulations, few will believe that a teacup poodle is a service dog.

Note: Many airlines and establishments don’t take “therapy dogs” seriously or waive the fees for them. You’ve gotta have “service animal” credentials to make that happen.

You can get mad about my little white lie all you want. But why? People are selling drugs, evading taxes, and I’m simply trying to take my dog to get a cup of coffee. Is this something to get that worked up about? I don’t think so.

Then again, some people have a little too much free time on their hands and love to complain about just about anything. Not all fake service dogs are bad dogs; maybe you’ve met mine, and everyone usually loves him. As for the owners, we’re just people trying to beat the system and be able to take our furry companions with us. For all you know, they may be the only ones we have.

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Pets Adviser Responds

Stacy Fromgolds is actually a pen name for a writer who lives in New York City. She asked us to keep her identity anonymous — probably because she knows that her “little white lie” is, in fact, a crime. Despite her claims that there’s nothing wrong with what she’s doing, we can’t help speculating that she really does know, deep down, that pretending to be disabled (!) is just plain wrong. After all, some people depend on their (legitimate) service dogs to literally get out the door every morning. We’d love to hear what readers have to say in response to this article. Please leave a comment below and tell us your reaction.

Next, in Part 3 of our series: A veterinarian’s take on being asked to aid in false certification. Read Part 3 here.

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  • Sarah

    It is definitely wrong to pretend that your dog is a service dog. However, having traveled with my dog (who had to fly cargo because she was 2 pounds over the cabin weight restriction) and seen first hand just how badly customs officials and airline staff mismanage animal care, I understand why people do this for flights. My dog was left on a loading dock for 36 hours – never even taken to the bathroom. The airlines want me to not lie? Fine. Treat my animal properly.

    I get that it is not okay to lie, and I don’t. My dog travels in cargo as required because I recognize that her discomfort does not outweigh the problem caused by fake service dogs. But really, I honestly understand why someone might lie to the airlines.

    Or to the NY subway or when trying to get a taxi in the rain and no one will pick you up.

    Of course, again, I don’t lie. But maybe we would have fewer cheats if animals were allowed in a few more public places.

    • Ashley

      If the airlines were not so greedy and didn’t require $175 one-way fees (United Airlines) for a person to have their dog occupy one of their carry ons, maybe we’d have less fakers on airplanes.

  • two little vikings

    I am a mom to two kids with special needs. Their needs are so severe that we raised funds and flew across the country to acquire a service dog from a leading service dog agency. Our dog spent months in training and was trained specifically for our children. We spent months raising funds, compiling references, Videotaping our children and their behaviors and two weeks of service dog boot camp. The dog is needed every day to ensure our children are safe…. She has been specifically task trained to deal with their disabilities. When people take their pets who are not task trained (very obviously) and try to pass them off as service animals it jeopardizes the future of service dogs. In other words, your selfishness may later cause the service dog program to be discontinued or worse yet, convince someone to disobey the law and not allow a service dog in their establishment. How would you feel if that someone happened to be a child who then died from a seizure or an autistic person who bolted into a busy street and was hit by a car…. Shame on you…

  • scared of big dogs

    What about people with allergies and phobias? Real service dogs are rare, but with all these fakers where are our rights?

    • Ashley

      Real service dogs are rare? From where are you pulling these statistics??

    • Evan

      I empathize. I keep my dog clean and respect others rights too. But fear of dogs and allergies are not an allowable restriction under the law.

  • sd handler

    I understand the desire to take your dog with you everywhere… My pet dog is my baby, he has never spent a night away from me and I wouldnt want him to… BUT I also have a disability which I mitigate with the help of a service dog. That means that my dog has to stay home while my service dog goes out with me. My service dog keeps me safe and allows me to leave the house without having someone hold on to me or guard me. He allows me to have some freedom!

    The problem with people like Stacey is that if her dog does cause an issue, then that reflects badly on those of us that follow the law and NEED a service dog… not to mention even her good-willed act of flashing the dog’s “ID” harms other sd teams! Since there is no official registry, by her showing said ID, she is giving the public the impression that if a “team” does not show an identification card, then they are a fake and can be expelled from the business…

    Every step that fakers take to keep their dogs near or “help” teams actually just makes it harder for real teams to live their lives! You also say that a registry would be easiest… Well let me ask you this. You are in an accident and have to use a wheelchair or crutches for a couple months… how would you like it if every time you went into a store, you were asked for papers or identification for your medical equipment? Or asked for your prescription? I think it would be fair to.assume you would be aggravated and offended someone wanted to see papers for something like that or see.your medical history/health documents…. Well, a service dog IS MEDICAL EQUIPMENT! Getting out of the house is hard enough for a lot of us… we do not need to be hassled every time we try to stop at the store for milk! Not to mention an official registry or tag would allow businesses to harass and bother both members of the team and would also give an excuse to deny entry. All the business would have to do is claim that the tag/card looked fake and have every right to deny entry to the team… even if said tag is legal!

  • sd handler

    If there is someone with a phobia, then we try to be considerate and will shift away. As for allergies, what about those that are allergic to perfume? Should everyone have to stop wearing perfume because someone walked past that has an allergy? Also, if you are in a restaurant, then the restaurant must accommodate both parties (both the sd team and the allergic patron) no one disability trumps another…

    My friend is allergic to dogs, yet she needs her service dog! He has saved her life numerous times!

  • animal_artwork

    No, your dog isn’t a fraud, you are. I would like to say I’m shocked that someone would lack integrity the way you do, but I’m not shocked. Service dog handlers are constantly being harassed by scammers dogs and business owners who have been scammers victims.

    Do you know how you tell who is a FAKER hauling their dog around illegitimately stating they are a service dog? They have and will present “ID”. Legally, in the US, completely and utterly unnecessary according to the ADA. No legitimate service dog handler I know will tolerate being asked for ID… only the fakers.

    • Ashley

      As a legitimately disabled person who utilizes the assistance as a service animal, I will say something about this. Yes, the ADA does not require ID or medical documentation. Most days, I am strong enough to inform businesses of this law (though I think it is not my job to train someone’s employees). However, there are those days when I am exhausted. I want to get to the store, run my errand and return home. On those days, I am not interested in creating an embarrassing scene and taking the education of the public upon myself. Sometimes, I just want to live my life and get on with my day like every other human being in this country. Those are the days when I let my ID tag be shown on my dog’s collar. Call me horrible. Tell me I am making it so business owners expect to see this from every disabled person. Go ahead, I agree with you. However, I also feel like I deserve to be a normal person. I just want to buy some dang milk without being harassed. Is it such a crime that I show someone my dog is a service animal to avoid having a 10 minute conversation/confrontation with them?

      Seriously, I think we all need to relax and see this for what it is.

  • Candice Milhausen

    As someone who uses a tiny breed as a REAL Service Dog I take offense at your comment of “few will believe that a teacup poodle is a service dog.” My current SDIT is a 4 pound Peke-a-Poo. Small dogs can be amazing Diabetic Alert/Response dogs, Seizure Alert/Response Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dogs and much much more. As for you faking it….dont even get me started, my Mother raised me that if you cant say anything nice, dont say anything at all…..so with that in mind…..have a nice evening…..

  • Brandi Paul

    What the heck is wrong with you?! You think you’re so knowledgeable about SDs but your article is full of false information.

    “For a business it’s against the law, not to mention just plain rude, to ask someone why she needs a service dog.” Wrong. A business is legally allowed to ask 2 questions, and what service does your animal provide is one. One lie just leads to more lies.

    “Even though any breed or type of dog can legitimately be a service dog, according to certain regulations, few will believe that a teacup poodle is a service dog.” I happen to know people that have Chihuahua SDs and they do AMAZING work. ANY size dog can be a legitimate SD, not just big dogs. This includes Teacup Poodles.

    And if you knew so much about being disabled, like I am, you’d know that it’s illegal to fake a disability. Ever heard the term “disability fraud?”

    “You can get mad about my little white lie all you want. But why? People are selling drugs, evading taxes, and I’m simply trying to take my dog to get a cup of coffee. Is this something to get that worked up about? I don’t think so.”

    Well I do. A certain phrase comes to mind… “You’ll go to Hell just as fast for stealing as you will for lying.” One wrong is no worse than another because they’re all wrong.

    Your little “white lie” is what’s making my life as a real SD owner insanely hard. Get a group of SD owners together and ask the question “Would you rather be healthy and not have an SD, or keep your disability and SD?” I guarantee that we’d all say we want to be completely healthy, normal people and not have to rely on a dog or anyone else to live.

    One last thing: If it’s just a little “white lie” and it’s “no big deal,” then why are you too much of a coward to use your real name? Because you KNOW you’re wrong. That’s why.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nicole.mccully.7 Nicole McCully

      I can understand your anger right there. I get accused so many times of my seizure-response dog being a ‘fake’ one… and NOW I finally understand where they’re getting those ideas from. If that woman wants to get a disabled person’s benefits, I’d be more than willing to let her have my epilepsy that renders me incapable of driving and causes me to collapse on the ground.

      It’s absolutely astounding how greedy, ignorant, or downright stupid people can be, this woman alone is proof of this. People with disabilities already get enough crap on their plate, now we have to deal with people pretending to be in need so they can reap our benefits?

    • Bob Lob

      You can ask what tasks the service dog performs but you CANNOT ask the person to disclose their disability. I am a lawyer btw.

      • Laura

        People can have dangerous dog allergies. I had a friend who said he often had to take his wife to the ER because of her dog allergy, because she would get exposed accidentally. Presumably she had allergic asthma.
        I have an extremely sensitive dog allergy. If I get a breath of air from an enclosed space where a dog has been recently, I get sick for 5 days. It’s risky to drive that way because I’m not very alert.
        There’s something in the law about supposedly accommodating both the person with the disability and the person with the dog allergy, by keeping them apart from each other in the same building.

        But if you are very sensitive, this won’t work. It wouldn’t work for me.

        I don’t think very sensitive dog allergies are rare, because I and two other people I’ve known are very allergic to dogs.

        It’s just lucky there aren’t many service dogs around. If you have a disability, I hope you look for non-dog ways of dealing with it. Allergies are becoming more common, and surely, this will come up if you go around with a service dog.

        • Cho

          Sorry, my problems are worse than your sniffles.

        • Laura

          You have GOT to be kidding, after what I said. I said I was too sick to drive when exposed. Too sick to think, to sick to live a normal life in any way.
          Other people have dangerous dog allergies that send them to the ER. People can have trouble breathing from allergies. Asthma can kill people.
          Severe dog allergies are not that rare. I’ve encountered 3 people other than me who have a severe dog allergy.
          A medical device that is a health hazard for other people is not a good medical device. Service dogs are considered a medical device. But as a medical device, they are defective.

        • Mimi

          I don’t see how allergies are enough to warrant telling off people who need service dogs. You can take medication for an allergy. Your allergies don’t come close to actually being disabled.

          “The term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual — a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual… [such as] caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.” — Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act

          Leaving the house, going shopping, eating out and such are not major life activities. Seeing, breathing, hearing, and thinking are. Major life activities are the most basic functions needed to survive, not the things people might do daily, but what they need to be able to do in order to in order to function in the world.

          So you can do all this great stuff and have a normal life but you’re allergic to dogs. Try having epilepsy where you can’t drive and could suffer brain damage if you had a major seizure.

          Or how about if you had a response dog that would alert others or alert you if you were going to be having a seizure? I understand that allergies can be fatal, but your needs do not rise above another person.

          The world doesn’t revolve around just YOU or a set of allergies. There are always compromises that have to be made. Lots of individuals are allergic to peanuts, but you don’t see peanuts being abolished, now do you?

        • CJ

          No, they aren’t defective. And asking a disabled person to find another way to live besides a dog, is absurd and insensitive and just plain ridiculous.

          People with allergies, especially severe ones, have it tough. It’s hard to go anywhere in public with all the scents, allergens in the air, and general air polution.

          But that’s the thing. It isn’t possible to make the world allergen-free. You can’t cut down all the trees with pollen, or keep dog hair off people’s clothing who walk in stores even without a service dog.

          If you go out in the world, and you are highly allergic to whatever, you WILL have problems.

          No, I will not give up my best way of dealing with life because somebody may be having trouble navigating their own life.

        • No Name

          Wow – just read comments left on other threads by Laura. Not a nice person! Never a positive comment, always questioning others intelligence, has a VERY high opinion of her own thoughts and knows more about my own motives than I myself do. Conclusion: Pathetic troll who needs attention.

        • Gia

          Laura its called antihistamines, take them and stop being dramatic, if its so bad perhaps you should live in a bubble, like bubble boy.

        • Froggy

          Some perfumes make me so sick I can end up in hospital on life support. But I’m not about to ask people to stop wearing perfumes in public places.
          Service dogs have enabled hundreds of thousands of people who would have no ability to lead the lives they do to lead them. In many cases they are the only way the person will ever have any kind of independance and they save lives. Service dogs are not everywhere. And you have a great chance, like the rest of us with allergies, to remove yourself from the vicinity. Instead you are asking people to remove themselves from LIFE.

        • At my limit

          Funny how self serving people are these days. Sniffles are NOT the issue here. I have stopped breathing and have almost died because of my allergies to animals. I dont have a problem with real service dogs. I know people with disabilities need them. But selfish people claiming their dog is a service dog without consideration for people with real disabilities or allergies is wrong. The law will change and people with disabilities are going to be the ones paying a high price for it. I think thats sad. Sad because most people don’t care and because people with disabilities have it hard enough. If it were only real service animals in public places then I’m sure my reactions would be considerably less. But because literally evrywhere I go someone has their fake service animals I suffer daily. My doctors can’t get my breathing under control and its pretty scary. Course, you rights are more important.

        • get real

          perfect example of someone with disabilities not caring at all about other people. Remind me why I should be outraged about a devoted pet owner enriching his companions life? (im asking the person who accused your sniffles of being a non issue this).

        • nwash

          I have anaphalactic rreaction to geraniums do you know how many stores (department,grocery, doctors offices,restaurants etc have them in season I am afraid to go anywhere I had to quit work because the store I cashiered in carried them 6 months out of the year It caused me so much stress that I had an anxiety attack just seeing them I can not go around asking or expecting these places to get rid of them just because I might die from them I had to learn to adapt and be cautious I have an emotional support service dog just for these situations when I go shopping I have to look all around make sure there are none of these death plants as I call them sometimes I have to scout several stores before I find a safe one my only other alternative is to become a recluse for these months of the year and that is not an option talk to your doctor about an inhaler or some medication for your allergies there are lots out there I have to carry an epipen with me always

      • Evan

        It is true; but for some of us, such as myself, disclosing what the animal does amounts to disclosing my disability; as a result, I say she performs alerting and guiding tasks. This seems to give them enough information without me feeling like I am helping to violate my own privacy too much.

  • Raven

    It’s Federal Fraud to portray your untrained pet as a service dog and also against the law to portray yourself as disabled to receive the benefits provided to them. I hope one day karma kicks you in your big selfish behind and makes you severely disabled so that you legitimately need a service dog. Only then will you really understand the struggle disabled people go through on a daily basis just to get through the day and how important our service dogs are to that.

    As a fellow writer, I’m ashamed to be in the same profession as someone as uncaring, cold hearted, compassionless and without shame as you proudly are. If your dog is your only friend, It’s obvious as to why.

    I wish you all the best that Karma can send your way. You should feel right at home where you’re going in the afterlife. Unfortunately for you, dogs don’t sin so you won’t be able to trick the Devil into allowing you to bring yours there.

    • Ashley

      It always amazes me how sometimes how the most disadvantaged population who KNOWS first-hand what it’s like to experience tough situations are oftentimes the first to become over-heated and hateful. Shouldn’t you, of all people, be more compassionate and kind? Wishing an arrest on someone for wanting to be with her dog (who is well-trained) is a bit harsh and emotionally irrational. Shouldn’t you be more worried about starving children or war than the fact that someone is bringing her dog into Starbucks without the socially-sanctioned stamp of approval? “You can’t bring your dog here, ” says one human to another.

      By the way, I am disabled and I do utilize the assistance of a service dog.

      • Evan

        While I do not agree that this offense warrants eternal damnation, it sure as hell does deserve an arrest. Short of that, a huge fine would be in order. A big enough fine to make her and other frauds never do it again, and also to give others contemplating it pause before doing it, too. Yes. Absolutely.

    • Cashley

      Well aren’t you just a cup of sunshine.

      • Evan

        I am pretty sure you cannot fill a cup with sunshine. This is an absurd remark.

  • Marijane Gray

    I can’t wait for this thoughtless and self absorbed person to get caught, because service dog fraud is a CRIME–both state and federal— and results in hefty fines, jail time and permanent lifelong loss of social security benefits.

    Who are you hurting? The legitimately disabled, that’s who. My 6 year old daughter requires a service dog, and because of selfish people like you we have to face business owner illegally asking for ID. And when we don’t have it, as per federal ADA law, it’s my daughter and I that are going to be faced with the humiliation of being illegally forced to leave somewhere.

    So thanks a lot for being so uncaring, unfeeling, and egocentric as to make the lives of the legitimately disabled even harder because you just feel like having Fido with you. Looking forward to your arrest!

    New York state statutes:

    § 118. Violations

    1. It shall be a violation, punishable as provided in subdivision two of this section, for:
    (c) any person to knowingly affix to any dog any false or improper
    identification tag, special identification tag for identifying guide,
    service or hearing dogs

    § 47-c. Penalties

    1. Any person or legal entity, public or private, violating any provision of this article shall be guilty of a violation.

    2. Any person or legal entity, public or private, violating section
    forty-seven and/or subdivision one or two of section forty-seven-b of
    this article two or more times within a two year period shall be guilty
    of a violation punishable by a fine of one thousand dollars or imprisonment for not more than fifteen days, or both.

    • Ashley

      Don’t be a hater. Stop worrying about what your neighbor is doing. Worry about yourself. Wishing harm onto someone is not healthy, it is emotionally destructive. Use that first-hand knowledge of a tough life and channel it into compassion. Living with this way is not good for you. I for one believe that this woman probably really does need her dog and she doesn’t realize it. Being that attached to an animal (or person) is indicative of other issues. Please don’t judge. You harm all of us when you do that.

      Signed,

      Ashley
      A disabled person who utilizes the assistance of a service dog

      • Evan

        I completely disagree with this response, Ashley. Not only is it inappropriate to tell someone what their motives are and how they should live, or presume to know anything about them, really, but it is also insulting.

  • c186306

    I think the people here blaming this woman for the behavior of business owners asking for ID are fingering the wrong person. The reason business owners do it is because they don’t know the law. The fakers play into their misconceptions, but it’s still the responsibility of the owners to know it and adhere to it.

    A couple of other thoughts on this… I think if someone goes to this length to take their dog with them everywhere, they might have a legitimate emotional problem. Separation anxiety to this level is not normal. I don’t understand why therapy dogs don’t have the same rights as service dogs. If it’s because they don’t require training, then we should raise the requirements so that therapy dogs who pass the obedience trials can be labeled service dogs, too.

    Finally, in America, we have a very bizarre relationship with our animals. On one hand we have a love affair with dogs, but on the other they’re restricted from nearly everywhere. I only really became aware of this after we got our first puppy who needed to be socialized around people and things, not just other dogs. The only places to take your dog seem to be parks and pet stores, and this has led to some people sneaking their puppies into strange places like hardware stores. Many puppy books specifically recommends this, although it’s not legal.

    • Ashley

      I agree with the majority of your post. I actually do not believe that it is illegal to “sneak” your dog into a hardware store for two reasons. 1. Hardware stores like Home Depot actually ALLOW pets and 2. You aren’t breaking a law, you’re just violating a company policy – all they can ask you to do is leave and if you don’t, they could probably call the police on you, who will only ask you to leave as well. Faking a service animal would be the only condition under which a person was breaking the law.

      I also agree that if someone is going to these kinds of lengths to have their dogs with them at all times, they probably really do need to be with their animal. What is so wrong with that? Why are we, as a society, so negatively concerned about others? When will we start looking at ourselves and working on who we are as individuals? There is enough worry in this world to care so very much about who has what in their purse (as long as the “what” does not cause physical harm to anyone).

      • Jared

        The issue isn’t really whether or not we, as a society, should be more allowing of pets in public, the issue is doing so by impersonating a real need. I feel the same way about medical marijuana… whether it should be legal is neither here nor there, but abusing the program to legally smoke recreationally cheapens the program and ultimately hurts patients. Providing this service animal thing doesn’t get out of hand and remains isolated, I’m guessing it won’t be a big deal. But if people like this continue to abuse a system in place for people with serious medical needs for their own selfish want of having their pet with them, it may eventually lead to more regulation, such as ID. It’s unfortunate we can’t rely on the honor system anymore.

  • khills

    You broke the law with this stunt and should be charged. Anyone who commits this kind of fraud should be charged with breaking the law. There are laws that clearly state who is eligible for a service dog and what that dog must do to qualify to gain public access with his handicapped human. If you ever get a handicap like those of us who depend on our dogs, you will understand how wrong your behavior is. As a person who struggles against MS, your behavior is offensive.

    • Ashley

      Pardon me but as a disabled person with a service dog myself, I disagree with your comment. I don’t think this person is offensive. I don’t think it’s fair that a person must have a disability in order to enjoy the companionship of an animal. Isn’t it true that life is hard for all of us? If this dog is well-behaved and this woman is getting something rewarding out of her time spent with the animal, I am fine with that. We have animal shelters that are killing perfectly healthy dogs because they do not have enough room or money to house them. Why is it such a big deal if an animal is being cared for? You and I know that we are forever indebted to our animals for what they do for us daily. Shouldn’t we work to be a society that is compassionate toward these animals?

      Frankly, I don’t think “faking” should be a crime. It is actually these articles that make everyone think that every service animal is a fraud… if I have ever seen a fake service animal, I haven’t known it – how could anyone else unless the animal was horribly misbehaving?

      Please don’t be offended by this author. You and I both know that life is difficult enough. We both have enough problems. Wasting your time and energy on hating someone with a compassionate heart is the greater crime, if you ask me.

      • Arie

        I could have not said it better myself. Thank god there is more than one person like me. I don’t think this woman is horrible at all, however it sure did bring out the ugliness in many others. It just goes to show peoples true colors. When we adopt an animal we need to realize that they need us to, just as much a child… Their lives are not any less important than our own. At least, that is how I view it and value my pets.

        I use to have insurance and I do not anymore, if I did I would have gotten a letter from my psychiatrist. But since I do not have proof due to lack of resources and etc. I am labeled as a horrible person? Well screw that idea.

        Being in college is lonely enough, along with the stress of trying to fight for your dreams… I do not see why having your best friend by your side (even if you have to “fake” to get him there) should make you a candidate for rotting in jail or any other of the horrid and cruel things people have said.

        • Evan

          Regardless of your issues or what others have said here, the author of this post admits to committing fraud. This is illegal and she should be likewise prosecuted. It is wrong. Whether you agree or disagree with it, your opinion doesn’t change this. For a more detailed response as to the actual harm this woman and others like her is causing, please see my longer reply below. Thank you.

      • http://diamondcinema.ning.com/ Christi

        Many states do have laws that say that if you lie about your disability or about your service dog that you can be charged. Just do a google search for state laws. It is a penalty.

  • Jenn Clark

    Gotta say that I’m pretty amazed by all the outrage directed at this woman. She didn’t steal anyone’s parking spot, she just wants to take her dog with her to get a cup of coffee. I’ve never dressed my dog up as a service dog, but I can see why people do. If we accept people bringing their screaming, disruptive children with them everywhere, is a quiet, well-behaved dog, service-official or not, really harming anyone? Does it really make sense to require someone to have a disability in order to bring their dog with them to public places? Why? Obviously if we allow service dogs in coffee shops, etc, we as a society are okay with the concept of a dog being allowed in these places – being a service dog does not make an animal any less triggering for those with allergies or dog phobias. I think we need to get away from the rule of demonstrating a “need” for a dog and move toward requiring that those dogs are well-trained – maybe they have to complete a Good Canine Citizen program or something. Seems like a pretty readily apparent solution that would solve problems on either side of the issue.

    • Evan

      I will answer your sincere question as simply as I can: As an autistic adult who relies on his service dog, people like this woman, who by the way are a problem of epidemic proportions these days, are making my life miserable. I do not have a solution, other than outing these fakers and exposing them to ridicule (which is not possible to do in most cases, of course), but the problem it creates is that business owners have become jaded, as well as the public to a certain extent, to the point that they assume your SD is a fake. I get challenged all the time, and I refuse to show ID or any kind of papers. I also refuse to dress her up in a vest or any other distinguishing accessories. This is because, as others have already pointed out, THERE IS NO OFFICIAL REGISTRY!!! And presenting these things only reinforces the misinformation out there about SD’s. I can understand why posers would be keen on getting an official document, or in this case a big fancy kit; because they need the back up to feel like they are covering themselves, and perhaps somewhat to assuage their guilt (as she said, she thought she was doing me a favor by having these things; let me assure you she most certainly is not). What she, and the growing numbers of people who are doing the same thing, is doing is harming the relatively few people who actually depend on their SDs. Think about it. Business owners are not stupid. If they have 50 people come in to their establishment a day, and everyone with a dog claims it is a SD, obviously they can’t all be, ergo, most of them are lying, and it seems these are the ones who have the official looking documents, which makes legitimate people like me, without papers or official-looking credentials, appear to be the frauds, which is of course backwards and wrong. In sum, yes it is very bad. Yes, it is harming me and others in my position. It has bee so bad sometimes that I have had to leave without what I came for because I got too stressed to be able to cope. I think this is shameful and it needs to stop. There is no defense for this behavior. If, as some have pointed out, some of these people’s attachment to their dogs indicates a legitimate medical issue, then so be it; they should go through the invasive process of being evaluated and tested, and invest the countless hours of training their dog to serve their particular needs, as I and other legitimate SD handlers have. Thanks for listening.

      • nwash

        All I have is a letter from my doctor This is because of my emotional companion dog I could not find a place that would allow her that I could afford on my own I had consulted a pro bono lawyer and he advised me to do this without it many landlords considered her a “PET” even when I told them I was advised to get an animal of some kind to help me by my psychatrist so with a note from her I was now allowed to have her however I had to post she was a service dog on my apartment for the other tenants very embarressing

        • Evan

          So much of what we must swallow our pride to be able to do is embarrassing it seems. It’s sad. I know exactly how you feel. That’s why it’s so refreshing when we encounter people and agencies that just treat us as people. It would be more often if we didn’t have people like the one who wrote this article. Glad it worked out for you even if it was degrading!

    • Kwin

      I am not sure how best to answer your question without repeating what has already been said-andn rightly so-in all of the above posts… The sad fact is that most of the fake service dogs that I have seen are grossly ill behaved. It’s not the poor pet’s fault-to be dragged into an alien environment where there are so many temptations and noise and crowds and such-but it is the human’s fault for being lazy and selfish enough to want to disguise their pet and take advantage of the law. They manipulate the system-and in doing so, claim that they have a disability. I don’t want to have to take my service dog with me everywhere. I get stared at. I get mocked. I get questioned. I can’t buy a pair of socks at Target or go for a nice meal without having to bear people’s whispers and inquiries. Getting asked, “so, what’s wrong with you?” and “how do we know your dog is a real service dog?” is very hurtful and the rude skepticism is a direct result of people like you who don’t see a problem with parading their pet around in public as a service dog.

  • sarah d

    I am all for it,,, I love my dog….. I dont have childern , men are pigs and so far hes the best companion ever… ever wonder why you pass a pet cematary and theres tons of flowers and barely any at a human one? he doesnt hurt anyone, hes cleaner than most people, and brings smiles to so many when i take him out.

  • Ivan M

    It really doesn’t matter that she is faking a registered animal what does matter is that she is faking a disability I myself am disabled but i know the difficulty of getting ESA SD to help with my Agoraphobia(panic attacks at every public place) my dog although not a SD knows when I need to be comforted he nudges me with his nose when I start showing signs of panic. I need my dog to be an SD so when i move apartments I can be confident they will accept him wherever I go. Because of the hassle and not having the funds or time to go through the process of getting my Dog certified I will getting the same SD Kit in hopes of being able to have the freedom to move where i want.

    • Shaelyn Grey

      Ivan, please try to contact me, different states have different guidelines and getting your dog certified may be easier than you think. I had the same fears as I trained my dog for my specific disabilities and also needed her to be able to respond not only to English commands, but to silent hand commands, and to Russian…not an easy find trainer-wise.

      It is possible to do, don’t get too worried yet.

      • Evan

        There is no certification requirement. Check the law.

    • Laura

      Please don’t do this. There are a lot of pet-friendly apartments, don’t spoil a no-pets place for people with allergies.

      Most allergies to dogs don’t cause anything worse than congestion,
      but some people have much worse allergies. I have extreme long-term reactions – if I take a breath of the air around a dog, I get sick for about 5 days. I can’t think well – it’s like I have mud in my head. I’m not
      able to do much for several days. If a dog is in an enclosed space
      with me, I’ll likely get sick. Some people have breathing problems such as asthma when they are exposed to dogs, and they may have to go to the ER. Asthma can kill people.

      I do everything I can medically for my allergies. And even a good facemask is of little use against dog allergen, because the particles are very small and many go right through the mask.

      Please do everything you can to find some other way to deal with your problems.

      • Laura

        ps Going gluten/dairy free helps some people with panic attacks, anxiety and phobias. I was hugely helped psychologically by avoiding foods I had delayed allergies to, including gluten and dairy. (but get tested for celiac disease before trying food elimination).

        If you can eliminate the root cause, much better than using a dog!

      • Evan

        I have a right to live where I please and will exercise it without fear. So should everyone else with a bona fide need.

  • Laura

    This is horrible. I have a VERY severe dog allergy. Tiny amounts of dog dander can make my head fuzzy, I don’t think well, I’m not as alert, and it lasts about 5 days. I’m afraid to drive when I’ve had an allergic reaction.

    I can’t be with a dog in the same room without getting sick. If I’m riding my bicycle and someone pulls up in a car next to me with a dog in it, I’ll likely get sick.

    Service dogs are thankfully rare. The main problem is people who want to take their pets everywhere – LIKE THIS PERSON. Store owners don’t want to offend customers so they let dogs in. Hotels don’t want to turn away people with dogs. Rental cars have all had dogs in them and I get somewhat sick when renting a car. Dogs are everywhere, and I spend a lot of time being sick because of this.

    Some people have asthma from dog allergy. People can die from this.

    My allergy symptoms won’t kill me in themselves. But my allergy could kill me if I have to drive while fuzzy with allergies and I don’t react quickly enough.

    It’s INCREDIBLY inconsiderate of someone to force their dog everywhere like this. You’d think this person had never heard of allergies.

    • Evan

      Laura, with utmost respect, it sounds like given the severity of your unfortunate condition, the presence of an actual dog would hardly be required. The way you explain it, it seems dog hairs present on the multitudinous dog owners out there would probably be enough to cause you trouble. I am not trying to be mean, but let’s be realistic.

  • Amy

    Pretending your dog is a service dog is selfish, ignorant and pathetic. It makes the lives of people, like my husband who is blind, much harder because he has to deal with people wondering if he and his dog are legitimate. As if it’s not hard enough to go through life blind and have to depend on an animal for safety and mobility, he now has to do so with others thinking he might be a “faker.” Your lie has consequences and they fall on our family. That offends me. Stop faking and just be happy you don’t really need a service dog. What you’re doing is a crime and for good reason!

  • Shaelyn Grey

    This makes me beyond livid!! I have a hard enough time making it through my day with my disabilities and then when people doubt the validity of my dog’s credentials because of her breed it makes my life that much harder. Yes, my girl was trained by me, because of the nature of my primary condition it was pretty much the only way to assure that she would be able to read me properly and save my life…which she has done more times than I can count. Other people have to fly across the country and many times still have battles bringing their guardian angels home due to ignorance and here you are telling us that you blatantly lie about your dog and think nothing of it? People are getting false college credentials and practicing medicine…does it make it right? Should they be allowed to get away with it as long as no one gets hurt.

    I am not a vindictive type person, but I so wish that one day you really do NEED a service dog, and you will be left without one and then you will learn what it is like for the rest of us!

  • Jessica

    You are a horrible, horrible person and you should be ashamed of yourself. People who have real service dogs are going to be doubted thanks to people like you. When you say your dog is a service dog, what you’re doing is pretending you have a severe health problem. When establishments don’t allow service dog into their businesses because of fakers like you, people who do need their service dogs will be at risk if they have a seizure or a medical problem. Your ‘little white lie’ is a disrespectful and shameful act.

  • Abby

    Frankly after reading her story I think she is disabled. It appears she does not like to be alone anywhere. It appears the dog gives her confidence to go out. There is a name for that psychosis. Her dog would come under the category of emotional support. I have this same fear. My dog was injured and I could not take her with me. I was a mess. I got sick to my stomach everytime I had to go out by myself. My dog is also for hearing and mobility.

    • Cliff

      Are you insane? Really. Are you? If you need “emotional” support get a friend. A dog can not “support” you. You’re a fool.

  • CommonSense

    You should be rotting in a jail cell for putting the health and safety of others at risk

  • Po’d

    Personally, as long as the dog is well behaved wth is the big deal?! Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I didn’t have Lupus, Fibromyalgia , somniphobia, PTSD, a eating disorder and panic and anxiety disorder. Sadly none of that really matters to anyone unless I can pay anywhere from 10/30,000 for a service dog. And even if I could afford it, it’s a average of a two year wait. Well maybe I’d like to be able to leave my house before the year 2015/2016! I’ve spent weeks researching service and therapy dogs. The conclusion I’ve come to is its a money making scam. So I guess there’s a chance I may miss my son graduating this year and I won’t ever leave my house again. But it’s this lady’s fault because she takes her dog with her and has fake papers. Sorry. I don’t buy it.
    Maybe one day compassion will overcome greed and people like me can get help. Until then I have no respect for the jerks who get to pick and choose who should get the service animal they need based on what’s in their bank account. So excuse me for thinking its a scam. My husband and I have 4 kids. 2 in college. I guess I could make one drop out to cover the cost . NOT!! I’ll just except the fact that my abuser for off Scott free and the people who should be trying to help me just want to fleece me.

    • Evan

      In fact, most people who use service dogs train them themselves. I got my awesome dog at the pound for $100 and that is the only expense I have paid. Now, the time is another matter. But the time is well spent.

      • Evan

        Most of the people with fancy papers are fakes anyway. Forget papers and registries. Look into the law. There is no registry.

        • Evan

          If you do not know how to train your dog, You Tube is an excellent resource. But you need to know what you need to train it to do (i.e. your needs and how your dog can help). Also remember dogs are dogs. Even service dogs are still dogs… just specially trained ones. They aren’t magical. And agencies, even reputable ones aren’t going do to anything you can’t do yourself. It’s more a matter of time and persistence and patience. Agencies do this for people who don’t have the time or aren’t willing to put in the time. And of course they want to be compensated.

    • CoNativeHiker

      Please see my post that I just wrote. I got a dog at the pound who later became my service dog.

      • Evan

        Me too!

  • Arie

    She wants to have her dog with her, it is nothing personal. I have horrible anxiety and stress issues and I have had to get by with whatever I can get, to prove to my landlord that I need him. And did you ever stop to think, what about the people who do not have insurance? Who are not capable of getting legitimate documentation not only for lack of insurance but also income? I am a full time student and recently lost insurance and for obvious reasons, I am tight on money. How is this so horrible?

    Take a step back and look at some of the things people have commented- not only to the woman who wrote this article but look at the things people are saying to one another, people they have not met ONCE in their life, and they are telling them to “rot in jail ???” I am sorry but nothing justifies such bs and hatred.

    You, my dears, need to take a step back and reevaluate yourselves. All I have to say is pick your battles.

  • get real

    Good for you! I’ve been reading up on service animals and I am going to register mine as a service animal. I started to feel bad about not going through the expensive and lengthy process of official blah blah blah but then I stopped because here is the thing. I’ve noticed people commenting on these articles who have disabilities. I’ve noticed a few things….

    People with physical disabilities often speak as if mental disorders aren’t a real disability. RIDICULOUS. I’ve seen a disabled person explain that all the articles about people faking service animals is hurting her as a disabled person because it’s causing her social anxiety and then other disabled people just not care. The point here, is what I’ve found is that people are only empathetic when it’s a disability JUST LIKE THEIRS. Well that’s just bigotry and i don’t like bigots.

    I have yet to see any reasonable argument about why I shouldn’t do this. In fact every site i visit that talks about “the horrors of fake service animals” is simply trying to sling extremely expensive dogs. That’s just wrong. The fact is mental disabilities are real and my dog makes me more confident in public. Yes, there is something wrong with me.

    Second point… kids. I loathe most children on site. They’re loud, undisciplined, and dirty, things my dog is not. Children do things that my dog will NEVER do; scream on planes, run around stores often times without supervision, smash anything they want etc. I don’t understand why we tolerate these things and yet my properly trained medium sized social dog can’t go with me to get some tea? This simply is not acceptable to me and now thanks to the internet i don’t have to. I don’t have kids I have a now service animal. Get over it.

    • Cliff

      Your last paragraph has proven that you do indeed have a mental disability. Not all kids behave like that, nor do all dogs. You definitely have a problem – one no service dog can assist you with.

    • Evan

      You can’t register your “service animal” because there is no registry. You may have registered on the site to get those papers, but they are meaningless and have nothing to do with the law, other than the fact that you are breaking it. You do not have a service animal. You have the same dog you had before, except now you have fake papers to go with it. You think you need a service dog? Do it right.

      • Evan

        Also, emotional support animals are not service dogs. Two different things. Service dogs are actually trained to perform tasks that help you with your disability. A dog that makes you feel more confident just by its presence is an emotional support dog, not a service dog.

  • CoNativeHiker

    I adopted a dog at a shelter and then got in a car wreck about a year and a half later. I sustained a brain injury that leads to blinding migraines, I sometimes can’t see for as long as 16 hours, accompanied by crippling pain, vomiting, bloody noses and even loss of consciousness. My dog started getting super agitated about 10-15 minutes before these episodes, alerting me in time to take Imitrex before I lost my sight. After thoroughly studying the training requirements posted by the ADA, I made sure my dog was able to follow ALL of them! He is the perfect service dog and has saved me 8-9 times just this year! Yes, I’ve had employees ask for registration (He wears a vest) and I calmly inform them that there is no such thing. I’ve had to get management involved more than once but I figure it’s worth it to educate everyone I can, saving another team a headache (no pun intended) in the future.
    Do I think this woman should be ridiculed or punished? No. Not as long as her dog is well behaved and doesn’t give my dog and his vest a bad name. And for those people with allergies, I hope you are blessed enough to find a good herbalist to help you boost your immune system – that’s how I got over my allergies. To say I shouldn’t have my dog in a restaurant because you’ll have an allergic reaction, even go into shock, is to say that your ailment is more important than mine or anyone else who has a SD. Perhaps you should do what I do – carry your meds with you and have a ‘medical device’ that alerts to your symptoms before they become dangerous.

  • Christina Walsh

    She should be ashamed of herself. I know of a few people who decided to lie to get papers from their doctors so they could get an emotional support animal. (It’s easy in California). They then decided, like this author, they would just order a vest and tags and voila, their untrained, unqualified PET is now a service animal. My dog is a psychiatric service animal, however, what he’s trained to do he does not do reliably in public. Therefore, I avoid public situations that could cause panic attacks. I hope to get him enrolled in classes so that he can gain the discipline needed for public use.

    People who lie about their pets being service animals are hurting those who NEED a service animal, especially those with psychiatric conditions. Nobody is going to question someone who is blind or in a wheelchair, but invisible disabilities tend to make people skeptical. Toss in idiots like this author, and you end up getting judged constantly. How about this? My dog eases my anxiety, but taking him in public makes me anxious because I assume people won’t believe he is a service dog, so I stay home. Shame on her and shame on everyone else who abuses the system!

  • Nathan Selove

    My service dog quite literally saved my life. I am an 18 year old autistic college student. I know you might think that it is fun to cheat the system. Quite frankly I am a dog lover as well and I think that more business should allow pets. But let me ask you a question. Would you fake a life threatening illness to get onto the make a wish foundation? Would you roll around in a wheel chair for sympathy points from people in public? Would you fake an injury to get over the counter narcotics? Because faking a service dog is basically the same thing as all of those. You may not realize it (and I am sure that you aren’t an all bad person) but people like you faking service dogs is currently starting to lead the the possibility of laws giving and invasion of privacy and a restriction of access to those of us that need our service dogs. It contributes to businesses seeing someone like myself who has an invisible disability and immediately assuming that I have a fake service dog and try to kick me out. This has happened to me. Do you really want to contribute to that? Like I said I am sure that you are not an evil person and I am sure that having your dog does give you comfort and I am sure that you love your dog dearly. But your actions may have unforeseen consequences that you do not realize.

    • Ramon Selove

      Well said, Nathan.

    • Evan

      Thank you brother. Same thing happens to me. Well said and stay strong.

  • Get it together lady!

    For someone who is proud of their “white lie” you sure are hiding behind it with a fake pen name. If its no big dea you can report yourself to the local authorities so your dog can be seized and you can do your time in county as well has pay your fine…just sayin’

    • Evan

      Don’t really want the dog seized thought! Just her.

  • anonymous

    If your dog behaves itself, and does not bring attention to its behavior, I do not see a problem. The public should not be sitting there debating whether your dog is legit or not, or judging you to see if you have a disability. Its there, its behaved, and as long as you take responsibility, it is no one else’s problem. The issue is with those who have fake service dogs and those dogs become destructive and a problem. In which case the law does not protect their rights, they can be asked to leave. Whats the problem then? This issue of legit or not legit is none of the public concern. Live and let live

  • atomman

    The issue isnt with the fraud, its with the law. There is no avenue for responsible dog owners to strictly train their dog to the standards acceptable by society, and allow them to be accompanied by them. Want a cure all? Allow for the registration and authorization of well-trained dogs to have similar benefits. If a person chooses to own a dog instead of have a child, or wishes to love an animal as a companion and have similar rights, well, as long as it doesn’t infringe on others, why not? After all, our founding fathers developed this country with the idea of the pursuit of happiness (as long as it doesn’t infringe on others). If a dog doesn’t bother anyone, is under control by the owner, and has the appropriate vaccinations, who the hell cares? Their life, their problems, not mine. If the dog pees in a store, is it any different than a child doing the same? The owner or parent pays for damages and goes on their merry way. If they don’t, there are already laws in state allowing the victim to press charges for damages. I say don’t blame the liars, blame the system that made it necessary to lie. I agree, those who need to have their dog with them at all times may be a little…. Unnecessary, but thats their problem. I see many others do far more unnecessary acts at far more damage to society, most of which are acceptable…

    • Evan

      Greeting Atomman. I think you raise an interesting point. I myself have sometimes considered it, actually. Honestly, I would not mind so much if I knew that every dog that Sadie and I encountered was going to be well-behaved (i.e. clearly under the owner’s control, did not bark, growl or pull their owner toward me and my dog, etc.), and posed no threat to me from disease and pests (like fleas) due to not being properly cared for and vaccinated (including regular flea treatment!!!). And furthermore, that I could rely on the fact that all such highly responsible owners had submitted to, and passed, a bona fide behavior class or test. If I could count on all these criteria being reliably and consistently met, I would give such a system my full blessing and say “Go with God, my friend!” every time I ran across such a “team”. On the matter of passing behavior classes/tests, I will tell you that is also a part of the problem, as numerous conversations I have had with so-called “trainers” explicitly expressed to me over the phone prior to my coming in for help with my dog’s training that they could assure me my dog would pass muster (and this is sight unseen), leading me to my conclusion that these particular people were running sham operations. I have avoided such people for the same reason I have never cheated on a test myself: I want my achievement to be an actual representation of what I really know, not what someone enabled me to accomplish. But back to my main point: If all the requirements mentioned above could be taken for granted, I would agree with you. Ah! If only we lived in such an ideal world we would not even be engaged in this discussion as there would be no reason to be! The flaws in your argument are two: 1) the types of people who are creating the biggest problem are precisely the people who would not submit to such standards in the first place, and 2) the system, however flawed it may be (and you get no argument from me on that point) does not MAKE people break the law; they choose to.

  • clay

    I cant wait to get my fake service dog tag haha all this arguing on the internet and guess what you guys that are mad about fake service dogs , theres nothing you can do about it lol hahaha

  • Kwin

    Frankly, after reading this I am in tears of frustration and anger. This cavalier attitude towards your “little white lie” is what makes it increasingly arduous and complicated for people with real disabilities-invisble and visible-to navigate the world. I have an invisible disability, and it’s because of people like yourself that I am constantly questioned about my extremely well behaved, highly trained service animal. By claiming a disability when you yourself have none, you are belittling the real disabilities of others. I can’t express enough the years of training, hours and hours of research and hard work, thousands of dollars and dedication that you have just casually brushed aside in your quest to take your dog to the coffee shop. Aside from the fact that you are committing a crime by masquerading your pet as a service dog, you are giving everyone a cause for suspicion when your pet misbehaves, barks at another dog, snitches food or begs at the table or does anything genuine service dogs are trained not to do. But I suspect you know all of this. I suspect that one of the reasons that you admitted your “little white lie” is because you know you are doing something terribly hurtful, and need to feel indignant and righteous when reading these comments. So, I won’t continue to voice my utmost distaste for your actions, and simply say that I hope you will surrender to your moral compass and leave your pet where he is supposed to be; at home. Or, write your real name instead of a fake one, and I’m sure people will be lining up outside of your door, eager to give you a disability of your own.