Tag Archives: fake service dogs

Calling All Casper Supporters! (Ghost Stalkers?)

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.

PSA Mondays: Fake Service Animals

Hello, everyone, Capser’s mom here with another PSA.

We have already talked about Service Dog Etiquette, and if you haven’t read that you really should. It is probably the most important bit of information we have posted to date.  In that post there were a few things I said I would touch on later. One was about people bringing non-service dogs into stores and restaurants. I had not planned to talk about this more just yet, but then I saw a headline on Huffington Post:

‘Fake’ Service Dog Certificates Being Used So Owners Can Take Pets To Restaurants, Clubs

NOT COOL, PEOPLE! Not. Cool.  Apparently it’s becoming a trend in NYC to get a fake service dog certificate for your pet so that you can take them anywhere you. Go ahead, click that link and read the story…I’ll wait.

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Yep. I didn’t make this crap up. And sadly, this happens everywhere, just not usually so many in the same geographical area. And this CHAPS OUR HIDE!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE pets. Dan and I considered ourselves to be “professional dog stalkers” before we had Casper. The kids were trained to do this right: The youngest puppy would run ahead (she is faster than us and not as shy as her sister) and ask the dog owner if we could pet the dog. Then we all caught up and got to pet it, too. It was great. I love seeing dogs out on walks with owners…as long as it is in an acceptable area. Outdoor malls, parks, beaches, farmer’s markets, etc… are full of these wonderful dog owners and it is great. It can be a little troublesome for us now since Casper is still working on his manners with other dogs, but when we are someplace where it is expected to see another dog we can be prepared. I dread the day we go into a restaurant or grocery store and there is another dog there. It will probably happen. And chances are the other dog is not actually a service animal.

The other problem I have with this is that it makes it harder for those of us who do have service animals to be respected by the public. Great Danes are not considered a ‘typical’ service dog breed so we are already confronted with some skepticism. When Dan’s legs are particularly tight there are fewer questions because his disability is more visible, but other days people often don’t notice his different gait (thanks to Casper). We know many other SDP recipients who have less visible disabilities and I imagine they are faced with doubt as well. Then there are the people who have a very small breed service animal that is used for anxiety, seizure detection, autism, and any number of other issues that do not require a larger dog. I know that those dogs are often seen as not “real” service animals anyway.

And here I have to make a confession.  Yesterday we went to the grocery store. Just before we got out of the car I noticed a woman headed to her car with a TINY dog in a bag over her shoulder. I pointed it out thinking how cute it was, but I was desperately thankful that they were already done. As we were checking out a woman who works there mentioned a woman who was just in here with her little service dog. My first thought was, “Yeah, right!” Of course, I am very aware that it could have been a service dog. But, how do I know for sure? I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, yet I am suspicious because of how many people abuse the service dog designation. And little dogs are more likely to be used in this scam since they can be carried around easily.

The biggest problem is that there is no official way to prove a dog is a service dog or not. You can order service dog vests and ID cards online and do not have to show any type of proof. And truthfully, if there was it would probably prevent a lot of people from ever getting one. Service dogs cost a LOT of money to raise and train. Most people have to raise thousands of dollars already to get their dog. If there became some official designation you could go through then it would likely just raise the cost of these dogs. (Thank you, SDP, for making dogs so much more accessible for those of us who cannot raise that kind of money. And while I am thinking about it, please go HERE to buy a “chicken brick” that helps them pay their bils!)

Then there is one more issue I have with this whole crazy thing. Service dogs need to be attentive to their handler at all times while on duty. You throw another dog in the mix and it is trouble. Casper is a puppy so this is a HUGE problem for us, one of the only big problems we have, but even older service dogs can have problems with this. What if you were working and you knew you could not get distracted, but in walks Adam Levine (or Sofia Vergara for you guys) or whoever would make your brain empty of all real thought. That is kind of what it is like for a dog to see another dog. It is EXCITING!!!! A well-trained older dog might react more like seeing David Spade, you don’t really care about them at all, but it IS a celebrity in your work place so that is pretty cool and quite distracting as well.

So here we are. I don’t even know where to go from here. I have vented, but how do we solve this? My hope is to get this information out there. I think if these people who are pretending to have service animals realized how much damage they are causing for real service animals they might think twice about doing this. Please share this post. Pass it along. Promote it. Please help us get the word out on all of our PSA Monday posts. Maybe together we can make a difference and educate some people.

Thanks for reading, guys.

written by LJS