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Bite Me – Scam Service Dogs

Service Dog Vest Ad on Ebay

­­­­­­­­By Terri Lynn, SouthFloridaReporter.com, Managing Editor, Oct. 6, 2015 – Let’s face it. Most of us get a tad perturbed when we see a healthy and fit person abuse a handicap parking sticker. We are not passing judgement, nor do we know an individual’s health history, but when you see someone park in a handicap spot, then they hop out of a sports car or a super truck that’s 5 feet off of the ground, you have to wonder if that person has real physical problems.

There’s a new “scam” amongst us and it is sickening. Some pet owners are falsely claiming ‘Service Dog’ status for their pets. How do they get away with it?  They go online and buy “Service Dog” vests for their non-service dogs. Then they use the Service Dog status to gain entry to stores, restaurants and airplanes.

Ebay has thousands of them in a wide range of colors, sizes and styles. For $20-$40 you can buy an official looking vest, no questions asked.

The Party’s Over

Faith Based Events

Florida recently passed a law making it a misdemeanor to try and pass pets off as service dogs. It is now a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida to misrepresent a pet as a service animal. Gov. Rick Scott signed the legislation in June and the law went into effect July 1.

A conviction carries penalties of up to 60 days in jail, up to $500 in fines and 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves the disabled, or another service organization at the discretion of the judge.

Service Animals

Service dogs are usually given to those in need by nonprofit organizations that specialize in the training and placing of service dogs to individuals with disabilities.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government

The (ADA) guarantees that those who have physical and mental disabilities must have access to public and private buildings and spaces.

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You can find more information on the law HERE

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Terri Lynn has earned a reputation as a dynamo in the fast-past world of high profile public relations. Her blue chip press contacts, dazzling creativity and unstoppable determination, combined with superb writing skills, consistently produces extensive media coverage for her clients. She’s regarded as tenacious, persuasive and always gets the job done!

4 COMMENTS

  1. You’ve just done all service dog handlers a disservice by explaining to people exactly how they can pretend their dog is a service dog. There’s nothing wrong with selling gear online. It’s when someone put its on their pet that there is an issue. And you’ve just told them all where to get it. Also, most service dogs are NOT given by organizations, in fact, MOST service dogs are trained by their own disabled handlers.
    Please do your research before you post stuff like this. You could have better handled this issue by instead writing about how there is no registration or certification of legal bearing, nor does a vest make a service dog. It’s completely legal to work a service dog without a vest on. What you should have written was the rights that businesses have to eject any dog, service dog or otherwise, when the animal is acting inappropriately. And properly citing the current ADA would have been helpful too. I’d just pull this whole article honestly.

  2. Nice article. As a volunteer for an organization that trains and places service and therapy dogs I’m well aware of the problems these fakers can cause for the legit service teams so I do appreciate this article. However, I took offense to your judgmental comments where you claim you’re not being judgemental about “fit, healthy looking folks getting out sports cars or big trucks after parking in a handicap spot” with the implication that these people certainly don’t look handicap and disabled folks don’t drive sports cars.

    Well, maybe most don’t but some do. I’ve never seen a law or a restriction sent along with my handicap placards from the Ohio BMV outlining they types of cars we have to drive.

    Not all disabliities are obvious and not all people parking in handicap spots need to be in wheelchairs or use a walker. While I do agree that just like fake service dogs, people use handicap parking permits illegally all the time but there is absolutely NO WAY you can tell by the car they drive or how much in good health they appear.

    I myself am considered disabled. I have a connective tissue disorder that one of the manifestations is chronic pain mostly in my legs and feet. Sometimes it’s so severe I lie awake many nights crying. The one thing, other than drugging up on pain meds, that brings me relief is to try and stay off my feet as much as possible each day. The physical activity is what intensifies the pain. For me it’s important to take as few steps a day as possible.

    Additionally, my condition causes breathing problems. I have allergy and exercise induced asthma and the exercise need not be strenuous at all. Walking at a slow pace can trigger it especially if it’s allergy season. Heck, even laughing sometimes throws me into an ashtmas attack. Again, the smaller the distance I have to cover when I’m out and about is vitally important to me.

    This brings me to the problem of people making these sorts of judgements as to who is disabled and who isn’t. Service dog handlers get the same thing sometimes because they aren’t blind or aren’t confined to a wheelchair so they get judged and criticized. Several times….SEVERAL…my car has been vandalized because there are others besides you who also believe there’s no reason a sports car should be parked in one of the blue spots. In one incident, I supected a lady who felt the need to call me vile names as I exited my car, a Pontiac Trans Am, but I ignored her ridiculousness and went into a pet store with my elderly dog and my young daughter. Driving home, a few miles away, my car’s engine suddenly died and wouldn’t restart. It was a hot, humid August day. Temps in the 90’s. I struggle to breath in those conditions do to the asthma and also the affliction I have, so I get a double whammy. My dog at the time had congestive heart failure and he did not tolerate such heat very well. My daughter was fine but not old enough for me to send up the road…HILLY ROADS. Incnlines are killer to walk up for people with pulmonary issues. This was pre-cell phones and I had to get to a phone to call my husband. It was just an awful, stressful, scary incident for me. I had to keep stopping and rest until I get walk again without having my chest tighten up and losing my breath. Plus worrying about my dog. He was and I took him to the pet store where he liked to pick out toys because I knew his days were numbered and I wasn’t his final days to be happy ones.

    Anyway…I’m sick of having my car damaged, key, let air out of tires and even contaminate my gas tank (the auto repair shop confirmed it and the damage was over $3500 all because some piece of junk decided to judge me) As well, I”m sick of being apprehensive about parking in a handicap spot when I absolutely am legal to do so and need to.

    If anyone feels someone is parking illegally call the cops. They can check it out and the person with who the placard is registered to must show proof with ID that they are in fact in the car.. I suggest people who blast me to do that, even offer my cell phone but they much rather enjoy trying to embarrass and shame me, get other people to join in with their heckling of a low life “healthy” in their opinion, person” and cause damage to my car.

    Otherwise, nice article. People who sprnkle fairy dust, buy an illegal vest online and magacially their pup is a service dog need to charged and have their pictures and story plastered all over their local media. Shame them publically and maybe others will quit doing it. This practice has become such a big problem for legit service dog handlers that someone, somehow has to find a solution to stop the madness.

  3. You do not even know what you are talking about when it comes to “healthy looking people” using a handicapped parking space!!!!!! Furious that you said this. People with invisible disabilities (like myself) who are fully disabled and need our service dogs (And access to the handicapped spaces) get discriminated at SO much. Get a grip and learn about invisible disabilities before you go saying that if we are able to get out of the car then we are faking!@!!!!!!!