I had a very scary encounter today. I had wrote about a fake service dog back in the fall, but had not had any real run-ins these last couple months. I did go on the radio and talk about the passing of SB173, which removed emotional support animals from the service animal definition...but that was about it.
Anyways, the story. I went into one of the local Bagel shops in Park City to study for my microbiology exam tomorrow. I had Millie with me. As I walk in and order my food, the employee tells me that this woman is in there, with her dog. I sigh and shake my head, and find a seat at the opposite end. I start working on my online exams. After about 15 min her dog got up, wandered over, caught sight of Millie, and went ballistic. He started barking very aggressively and lunged towards her. I jumped up and put my body in between him and Millie. The manger happened to be there and was able to grab his collar. He had so much force going at Millie that his front feet were dangling off the ground. I was yelling for the handler to get her dog, while the manger is telling me the dog is actually really nice (WHAT?!?!). She finally gets her dog, and I tell her she needs to have the dog on a leash. She says she knows. I tell her right now, and ALL the time. She says she knows. She goes back to knitting, and the dog goes back to wandering around without a leash, bugging customers who are eating.
At this point I called animal control. They actually showed up very quickly and started talking to her. The woman was very unreasonable and did not make sense. The officer kept saying they had multiple complaints about her dog, and that it was not acting like a service animal. The woman would say that the dog is a therapy dog, and then say it is a service dog, complain about her rights being isolated, try to say this is ok because she has lived here for 35 years, her husband died, she used to be a school teacher, its her dog's birthday (she really used all these excuses), and so on.
She then got mad at the officer and said she was going to call the sheriff dept because I was harassing her. They all show up and the whole show goes outside. I stayed inside and talked to the store owner, who seemed happy that something was finally being done about this.
I hope that now she will be charged with a misdemeanor the next time she tries to pass him off as a service dog. It is illegal in Utah to do what she is doing.
Millie seems to have recovered, but I will be watching her closely the next couple days to make sure she has not sustained any lasting psychological damage. If so....well in Utah you have to pay for service dogs that loose their training due to an attack by a dog you own.