[nagdu] Calif. - Fake service dog IDs causing problems for disabled

Ginger Kutsch GingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 17 12:56:52 UTC 2013

Calif. - Fake service dog IDs causing problems for disabled 




PETALUMA, Calif. -  Service dogs have special access to places that other
dogs don't, such as restaurants and airplanes, leading some people to lie
and claim their pets are specially trained.


According to service dog trainers, all it takes for dog owners to obtain
special access for their pets is a vest or a badge that says "Service Dog,"
and such identification can be found online for just a few dollars.


But the abuse of service dog identification has resulted in establishments
banning service dogs all together, even those whose owners honestly depend
on them.


Petaluma resident Wallis Brozman says her service dog Kaspin makes it
possible for her to live independently, saying the black Labrador "opens
doors, both literally and figuratively."


Brozman takes to Kaspin to restaurants in her town but sometimes she's
wrongfully denied.


"I'll say, 'This is a service dog, it helps my disability,' and they'll say,
'it doesn't matter. The last dog we had in here wasn't well behaved,'" said


Brozman said she feels the denials stem from the growing problem of people
passing off their pets as service animals by using fake identification.


"People are going up to the website, plunking down $50 and getting a
backpack or vest that says service dog or whatever," said Corey Hudson, CEO
of Canine Companions for Independence.


Hudson's company in Santa Rosa runs an intensive training program for
service dogs. He said Monday that dogs that have not been properly trained
can attack real service dogs, thereby endangering their disabled owners.


Through his organization, Hudson has been campaigning to make it more
difficult to buy service dog vests or markings online. But past experiences
have shown Hudson that it's a hard problem to solve.


"It's the same people who violate the placards with regard to handicap
parking. There are people who will push the envelope and there are a lot of
them," said Hudson.


Realistically, nothing can stop someone from claiming an ordinary dog has
been trained to serve as a service animal. But California's State Board of
Guide Dogs for the Blind voted Monday afternoon to launch an ad campaign
that shames those who cheat and abuse the identification system. It was not
immediately known when the board's campaign would begin. 


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