The Service Dog Debate Rages ON

I saw this in the comments under my post about the no longer guide dogs still guiding, and felt it needed answering up here, because it makes some good points, and I think they need to be heard. I’m going to throw my comments within her comment.

Hi Carin

In response to the issues about people lying about their dogs being service dogs…

My disability is not obvious. In fact, I occasionally have days when my dog doesn’t have much to do. That does not mean that she isn’t a service dog. Yet I’ve been challenged by people ever since those articles started coming out.

That sucks. But I figure as long as you can generally say what she does, without resorting to, “she’s a service dog and I’ll sue ya if you ask one more time!” and she’s not chewing on passers-by, you’re fine.

If a person has a seizure once every three months, does that mean their seizure alert dog is not a service dog and should not accompany them into stores?

Hell no. All it takes is one seizure and they’ve done their job.

Also, my dog is self-trained. I could not afford the price of a service dog and I used to be a dog trainer. I also didn’t want to wait 2 years on a waiting list to be charged $15,000 US dollars for a dog.

And I think that’s awesome. So we have to figure out some kind of compromise where you can have some kind of ID that proves that your dog has the right to be by your side. I’m not mad at the sentiment that the law doesn’t allow people to ask what your dog does. I’m mad at what that leaves wide open for the selfish among us to take advantage of. I’m mad that the law becomes unenforceable.

You got your guide dog for beans compared to that.

I absolutely agree, and I think it isn’t fair that so many have to pay so much for their dogs. I feel lucky, and then sad when I see families of Autistic children struggling to get the money together to get a dog to help with their kid, or people with all different kinds of disabilities having to wait so long and pay so much. It isn’t fair, and I don’t understand it.

The people pushing for national certification of service dogs are the same people who run the service dog schools that have been popping up all over the place since the veterans of Iraq have been incurring such drastic injuries.

Who will they promote to certify the dogs? Themselves, of course. What chance do I have that they will certify my self-trained dog?

and that isn’t fair either. We need to find a third party body made up of representatives from the schools as well as private trainers that the schools have to answer to. That’s the only way this can work at all.

I trained my dog for my specific needs. I don’t need a dog that helps me balance or that can pull a wheelchair. Why wait for one of those? Why pay for one of those?

Again, I think that is awesome. I admire you for having the skills to do that. That takes one hell of a lot of patience and persistence, and I take my hat off to you.

Who will decide what disabilities NEED to be mitigated by a service dog. The schools that charge an arm and a leg (pun intended) for the dogs they’ve trained, of course.

That’s why we need a system overseeing all of this so the schools don’t hold all the power.

I don’t understand why guide dogs for the blind can be procured for less than $500. when other service dogs cost more than $15,000. Guide dogs for the
blind are literally life savers. They don’t serve like other types of service dogs; they lead. They practice intelligent disobedience. All that for $500?
And you have to pay $15,000 for a dog that simply follows commands?

I don’t understand it either. Like I said, sometimes I feel guilty when I hear how much other service dogs cost. The whole system makes no sense.

Anyway, the purpose of my rant is to question the motives of these people who want to regulate the business of training and certifying service dogs.

Maybe when they are also charging a minimal fee for the placement of their dogs, I will trust their motives.

In the meantime, people are people. They will lie and cheat as often as they can. I remember seeing sighted people wearing sunglasses on the buses in New York city in the 1980s so they could get their dogs onto the buses.

And that’s where I get mad. Some of these dogs have been known to attack legitimate service dogs and fellow passengers! Is that safe for anyone? I wish this law had some teeth, so I didn’t have to fear the teeth of other supposed service animals who are riding the bus with me. I don’t want to stipulate who should have them. I just don’t want Roofis the doberman getting on the bus because someone wants to bring him with him to show him off. If Roofis isn’t trained to be social and behave in a civil manner on the bus, he shouldn’t get on, and there should be laws that people aren’t afraid to use to get him off. But if someone needs Roofis and he’s a fine dog, then there should be proof that they can show from a third party, not a school, that says he’s registered as a service dog. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for proof, and there should be standardized proof, not the kind you can buy from a random store.

My dog is as much a service dog as any that have been “professionally” trained.

absolutely. I would never stand here and question that. I know of privately-trained service dogs. They’re still service dogs.

I’m tired of people threatening to take her away.

That would be exhausting. Some days I’m exhausted and all I get is the standard “can I pet your dog? …How does she do that? … Is that a new dog?” I would be completely worn down if I had to confront people all the time everywhere I went. Part of me is afraid we’ll all be in that place if we don’t strengthen this law somehow. If we can figure out a solution, I think it would benefit all of us. There is so much ambiguity in this whole dog thing. If we actually have to involve the police, they deal with this so rarely that they don’t know what to do and would rather shift us to the backburner.

Thanks for the platform!

Jill

No problem. Thanks for writing so eloquently and bringing some of these thorny points to light. I’ve noticed that this subject is something that will raise the hackles of dog-users everywhere, and so it should. I just wish we could work out a system where all service dogs could prove their right to have their place and people who tried to squiggle through loopholes could be caught and dealt with.

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