Recently, Dr. Nancy Kay, in her blog Speaking for Spot, wrote about the problem of "fake" service dogs. In my experience, most people legitimately misunderstand what qualifies a dog to be a legal service animal. It is critical that untrained, ill behaved or even just slightly unruly dogs not be allowed to disrupt public venues under the guise of being "service animals." A service dog needs to be fully trained to perform very specific tasks for its human. If you "notice" a service dog while out in public it likely isn't a legitimate service dog. A fully trained service dog is essentially trained to be invisible until it is needed for a specific task.
Misunderstandings of the law aside, faking a disability in order to gain a privilege is downright unethical.
Dr. Kay points out that our local service dog organization, Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) (based in Santa Rosa) has a goal of collecting 50,000 signatures from people who pledge to stop service dog fraud. The hope is that these signatures will urge federal regulators to block the online sale of fake service dog certificates, vests, leashes, and other products from official-looking websites.
Based on Dr. Kay's post and my own experiences I have taken the pledge and hope you will as well.