Along with this blog most of you know we also maintain a Facebook page and an Instagram. We use these platforms to also educate about disabilities and service dogs. We also like to post heartwarming stories about animals and kids, etc… We want to educate and entertain. I hope we are doing a good job. Part of maintaining all of this means that we encounter situations online that inspire us to do further personal education. One of these incidents happened today and I really need to share the story.
So, you all know how we feel about fake service dog, right? If not then you need to read the rest of this blog. Really… all of it. I mean, we really hate fake service dogs. Today I found a photo on Instagram that I felt I needed to comment on. It was a photo of a dog in a Target shopping cart. I did not suspect there was any fraud going on, just some ignorance about how troublesome it can be to take your pet in public.
Here is the part where I would love to share my comment and the photo of this particular dog, but I can’t. I can’t because they took so much offense to my mild concern that they blocked me from their feed. I am sure you can find it on Instagram under @thefrenchduke. Just look for the cute French bulldog in a Target cart. I will just have to share with you what I remember and not verbatim.
I commented that while I love looking at pics of Duke, he really is an adorable dog, I felt the need to point out that people should not bring their dogs into shops (except pet stores) because it can be a distraction and a danger to service dogs and their handlers. I ended saying I was sorry, but felt I needed to give a PSA on that.
I felt this need because many pet owners had already commented that they wanted to take their dog into Target now. The owner of Duke, who has her own Instagram feed under @amybriggs, commented that “no one said anything” when she brought him in. With these comments I felt it was truly a pet and I thought people should be educated. Not just the owners of Duke, but all of the followers. You see, @thefrenchduke as over 2300 followers after being featured on Huffington Post. That is where I heard of them.
Immediately @amybriggs responded that it was none of my business, but that Duke was a “registered” (we all know that they are not registered at all, but are called certified) service dog and that she would not allow my negativity on her page, etc…
I tried to respond with an apology and to explain that I did not mean harm. I was not being negative. I also mentioned that there was no evidence in any photos or the profile that Duke was a service dog so my assumption was well founded. Also, I stated that as a service dog handler I was sure she understood my concerns.
You see, at this point I was still giving her the benefit of the doubt. Then my comment would not go through. I had been blocked. I could see her comment, but could not respond. I started to question her authenticity. Why would she be so mad and block me if she was truly a service dog handler?
I tried to go back to see more comments but now I could not even see the account. That is until 2 more people responded directly to me. One was just a jerk with a rude comment. The other was @thefrenchduke. They had decided to DELETE the original response from her personal account and the restate, more politely, that Duke was a “registered” service dog. Still, though, I could not respond.
I am not totally convinced they are lying and it is driving me mad that I cannot let them know that what they are doing is not only rude, unsafe, and ignorant, but more importantly, illegal. I am also pretty irritated that they have so so so many followers when they are violating federal laws with their dog.
If I am wrong, then I invite @thefrenchduke to prove Duke is a service dog. No, there is not paperwork to prove this, as our readers know, but a handler would know the actual laws. They would also be able to tell me what kind of service Duke provides and who trained him. And if he is a service dog, I encourage them to be proud of that. Use your popularity to increase service dog awareness! Do not hide your disability. Educate.
Readers, if you have Instagram, please help me educate this account and their followers. We have to put a stop to these fake service dogs all over the country.