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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Imposter

There is a women in my town who has a large golden retriever.  She brings this dog everywhere.  He has a service dog vest on, but is usually not on a leash.  When asked what kind of service dog he is, she says that he visits chemotherapy patients.  Now I love therapy dogs:  they are amazing dogs who bring joy to people in hospitals, nursing homes, ect.  However, they are not service dogs, and DO NOT have public access rights.

This has gone beyond people impersonating service dogs; this dog is a liability risk!  Yesterday I pull up to the grocery store, park, and go to get Sterling out.  This women is across the aisle form me, and just lets her dog out of her car, not on a leash, in the parking lot.  The dog runs over and growls at my dogs, and growls again at Sterling.  The women chased him 3 times around the car before she was able to get him back.  I start to walk into the store, Tom with me so we can block any further attempts of the dog to get to Sterling.  The women follows behind us into the store with her dog unvested, and....OFF LEAD!  She stands in line at the coffee shop while the dog wanders freely around, sniffing people and objects, dropping its tennis ball and then diving for it.  

I waited by where she was while an employee went to get the manager.  I tried to educate this women about the illegality of what she was doing; it is a class B misdemeanor here, and punishable by up to 6 months in jail or a $1000 fine.  She did not want to listen to anything I had to say, and kept saying, "No thanks, we are fine."  (what?)  And then she tells me the dog is going through chemotherapy!  Even a qualified person with disabilities should think long and hard about whether to continue working a very sick service dog; it is not fair to the dog!

The manager finally came over and told her she would have to have the dog on a leash or leave, but by that time she was done with her coffee and so left.  I talked with the manager, and he said she is in there all the time, with her sometimes being at the check-out stand and the dog being back in produce.  She brings him in wet from the dog pond, and he is almost never groomed. They ask her to leave, but she keeps coming back.

I am writing to my local paper, and will hand out ADA briefs at the local stores, any other suggestions? 

10 comments:

Erin and guide pup Midnight said...

Wow that crazy! I can't believe the other customers would put up with that! i know I wouldn't! gooood grief...

Emily and the Labradors said...

That is super frustrating! I almost wonder if the store(s) should be calling the police or something. It sounds like this dog is a danger to other working dogs (or puppies in training) as well as people. Good luck!

Lisa and Ellie said...

I don't quite know what to say. I've never seen anyone take their dog in offleash. We've had the chihauha service dog in no vest - and they didn't need the dog 10 minutes before, just saw I had my caped PIT with me and then went out to their car and brought in their dog. But, wow... that's stunning. Good luck.

Anna W. said...

Unfortunately there isn't much you can do....you can always make sure the manager knows the ADA laws, and encourage him to have her punished--for everyone's good. But sadly there isn't much else you can do. It's frustrating though, isn't it. That happens with therapy dogs around here, all the time. UGH

Megan, Fullerton & Spanky said...

Wow, that is pretty lame!! I hate when people do that. When I lived in Cali there was a lady with a Cocker Spaniel that I would run into all the time while I was out. She had her dog in a bandana with bones on it and always claimed that it was a service dog, but the dog was pretty out of control and would always bark and my dogs and growl and the lady didn't watch it very well. It got into stuff all the time. It really made me mad. People need some sense. It is like when people ask me where to get the jacket and that they want to put it on there pet. I just want to slap them in the face! C'mon People!!

OSU 98 said...

Its people like her that ruin it for the rest of us. I have a certified TDI dog and would never dream of taking her anyplace she is not permitted to go. It is not only rude and unsafe, but a liability to others around if the dog is ill and umkept. Not only that, it is apparent she does not have control of her dog, and a parking lot is a very bad place not to have control of your dog.

My vote is for the police to be involved.

Logan said...

I'm partnered with a service dog and this kind of stuff drives me crazy! I'm so afraid that we are eventually going to lose our public access rights because of folks like this. The only solution I see is a national certification or licensing program.

Aside from a letter to your local paper and handing out the ADA info., I would make it clear that even a legitimate service dog can be asked to leave if disruptive. I think many businesses feel that their hands are tied with regards to people with disabilities and don't want any negative press.

I would highlight this part on the ADA Business Brief on Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals:

Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?

A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.


Good luck and thanks for what you do with puppy raising! Without folks like you we wouldn't have our amazing partners.

Becky said...

Wow -- that is so frustrating and impacts us all. Thanks for all you are doing. Even if he was a service animal, if he is behaving that way they can ask her to leave - not to mention shouldn't be there.

Princess Coral said...

This is a very frustrating situation, and almost scary for us guide dog users. But like someone else said, the ADA is very vague in efforts to include wide variety of service animals and disabilities, I believe.

Mitch and Meade said...

Hmmm. This comment is about a year too late, I got a link to it from Mandy's blog.
Anyway, that is so annoying! I can't believe someone would ever think of doing that. Just because they can take them into Petsmart doesn't mean they can go everywhere!!
This past summer when we took Meade camping we went through Park City and and stopped at some grocery store (I think it was in Kamas). After about a minute in the store a store employee came over to make sure Meade was an actual puppy in training. After that she explained that some people bring in their pet dogs and she has had to ask them to leave. I don't know if it was the same "sevice dog" or if there are some other people doing it around that area. :/
I totally agree with Megan. I get so ticked when people ask me where to get a jacket or they tell me they are going to make one for their dog. I usually just say "That's illegal, good luck pulling it off"