By Guest Writer: Abe Lerner
Proposed Canadian Law Takes Aim at Fraudulent Service Dogs
Everything these days seems to need a license. To drive a car, you need a license. To see patients, you need a license. Even to have a right to buy tickets to an NFL game, you need a Personal Seat License (PSL). That’s correct. Your favorite team requires that you pay to be licensed, affording you the right to purchase tickets. Although conventional wisdom would dictate that buying tickets to a sporting event is a Divine right, fans apparently are willing to pay for it. Ah…the dedication of a true fan!
Why then aren’t there laws in place governing the licensure of service dogs? Lawmakers in British Columbia, Canada, are asking the same question (minus perhaps the NFL link). Chris Hall, in a March 24, 2015, Dogster.com article, reports on the proposed Guide Dog and Service Dog Act that would reform laws regulating service dogs.
Equipping dogs with fake service dog gear and associated documentation, in an attempt to pass them off as legitimate service dogs, has developed into a growing issue. For little money, one can actually go online and order ID cards and vests, in an effort to gain entry for pets into public restaurants and the like. Multiple websites offer the bogus items for sale. The problem is twofold. Deceiving store owners into permitting a pet to enter an establishment is not only dishonorable, but it potentially disturbs other customers if the pet is displaying unruly conduct. Undisciplined behavior, in general, is a telltale sign of a fraudulent service dog, as proper training focuses on their interaction with humans. Understandably, an uncomfortable customer can potentially become an ex-customer, hurting business.
Additionally, disabled people whom are genuinely in need of service dog support can be adversely affected. Many have been turned away from entering stores by unsympathetic owners whom have endured their share of awful experiences with phony service dogs wreaking havoc in their establishments. Imagine! Laws targeted to aid disabled citizens are being exploited by unscrupulous individuals, ultimately hurting the very people that they were intended to benefit!
Current service dog laws are vague, abetting their exploitation. In the USA, for instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides for those disabled to enter a public area accompanied by a service dog, no questions asked. The proprietor is prohibited from asking about the nature of the specific disability, nor can he request to see supporting documentation. Therein lies the unfortunate loophole in the law. The term “disability” has become subject to interpretation, determined solely by the person claiming to be disabled, thus allowing for an expanded definition of the term.
Enter the British Columbian legislature, seeking to pass the Guide Dog and Service Act into law, aimed at curbing the spiraling-out-of-control trend. The proposed law would create a registry of certified service dogs. One would be required to have his service dog certified by a government agency, ascertaining its status as such. The law would also mandate that visible ID be worn by the service animal, clearly delineating the certification for proprietors to see. Another aspect of the law would standardize training regulations for service dogs, establishing uniform guidelines.
Although the nuts and bolts of such a law would need to be ironed out, defining clearly how to classify a “disability,” I believe that we can all applaud the British Columbian legislature for taking the initiative to enact legislation to get it right. Essentially, they’d be doing a tremendous SERVICE…
Guest Writer: Abe Lerner is a member of the pack at NutralifePet—a division of Nutralife Health Products, Inc., which has been selling high quality dietary supplements since 1996. NutralifePet, the manufacturer of Ultra Joint & Liver Support with SAM-e for dogs and cats, caters to the individual needs of each pet. NutralifePet…caring about animals, one pet at a time…