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djyee100

"Service dogs" in supermarkets

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Can anyone here clarify how easy it is to get a "service collar" for an animal? Is it very easy to just go anywhere and get one? Are there any fines for putting one on an animal that is not a service animal?

Pay a doctor to write a note saying that you have a condition that requires that your dog be with you 24 hours a day, and BAM! Your dog is now a service dog. No special training required on anyone's part.

I probably have a different opinion than many here because I've lived in tourist towns my entire life. I've seen WANTON abuse of the system by people who want to bring pets into a no-pets hotel. Some of the owners will flat-out tell you that if the hotel allowed animals, they wouldn't have to go through the trouble and expense of finding a doctor to write them a permission slip.

EDIT -- In my tourist town experience, for every legitimate service animal and for every "I dunno, COULD be an epilepsy dog" service animal, there are five owners who just want to bring their dogs into hotels and restaurants and supermarkets. And it's becoming more and more prevalent as more pet owners learn a doctor's note is their golden ticket out of kennel fees.


Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Even when the disability is apparent, not everyone is respectful. My profoundly handicapped son was in a wheelchair and one of my friends questioned why I would take a handicapped spot since I was not disabled and I was the one pushing the chair. I pointed out that handicapped spaces often also include extra room for wheelchair lifts. If I chose another spot, there was no guaranty I wouldn't be blocked in and unable to open the lift when I was leaving. There were other times that I pulled into the handicapped spot, got out of my van, and before I could walk to the passenger side to open the lift, found myself being given the evil eye because I had no apparent handicap. The temptation to wheel the chair up to the evil eye giver and ask, "Is this handicapped enough for you?" was great. Never did it, though.


"I like 'em french fried pertaters." (Billy Bob Thornton as Karl, in Sling Blade.)

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Like others have said before, not all disabilities are apparent. Service dog can be a seeing eye dog, but it can also be for someone with emotional issues.

I think the crux of the "I can't stand the people who apparently abuse the system" argument are those who's "emotional issue" is that they can't bear to be separated from their pet for 15 freakin' minutes.

There are people with real mental health issues and their service dog help them function day to day. They get judge so often by people who just don't get it. A little understand really goes a long way.

Amen. I am really saddened by the amount of intensely negative judgment going on this thread. It is really out of sync with my sense of the general eGullet ethos.

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I appreciate what people are saying, that not all disabilities are readily apparent. Your point is well-taken.

Nevertheless, I have observed service dogs that are behaving badly in supermarkets, raising public health issues. What, if anything, should be done about that?

The Customer Service Rep yesterday said that she had received other complaints of service dogs nosing food within their reach. She wasn't at all surprised by what I was telling her.

Speaking very generally for the US, there appears to be no standardized criteria or testing required to be a service dog. The ADA website recognizes that the dog may or may not have had training. There are more reputable organizations that require testing and hold dogs to a standard to reach their certification (Assistance Dogs International). Then there are others that list what the dog should be, let you click a box indicating that, sure, your dog is all of those things, and then purchase a nice certificate and official looking vest/collar with no required training.

Lights19, thank you for the information. That explains what I've observed. My neighbors have a dog that is a "service dog" for schools. The dog is a big, strong dog with a nervous disposition (looks like a labrador-boxer mix). He barks at everybody and everything that goes past their house. I went out of my way to approach the dog, let him take my scent, then pet him. Now he doesn't bark at me. He still barks at everybody else, though.

I've watched this dog walking with my neighbor. The dog lunges on his leash, away from his owner, at anything that distracts or antagonizes him. His owner admits the dog is difficult to control. I've wondered, how could this dog be a service dog? Yet he is. His owners could take him into a supermarket if they wanted to. Fortunately they have the sense not to do that. So far.

Some people mention Seeing Eye Dogs. I've known people who have trained Seeing Eye Dogs and observed some training myself. Those dogs are taught to ignore all distractions and stay close to their owners. In supermarkets and other public places, Seeing Eye Dogs are no problem--they behave better than some people! But when I compare Seeing Eye Dogs with some service dogs I've observed, the "service dogs" appear far less trained and less able to handle public places. The service dog owners are inattentive to their animals, also.

A couple weeks ago I was traveling on the BART commuter train. A young woman with a small dog, wearing the "service dog" collar, sat next to me. That woman did not need that service dog in order to ride the train. Why? Because it wasn't her dog. In conversation she told me that it was a service dog for her boyfriend. Why she was riding the train with the dog, I don't know. My point is, people are allowed to take service dogs into supermarkets and other public places, whether or not the dog is needed there, and personnel are forbidden by law to ask some pertinent questions. As I understand it, the person only has to show the dog is certified as a service dog. Anybody can take a "service dog" anywhere that service dogs are permitted, no other questions asked. IMO, that's causing some problems.


Edited by djyee100 (log)

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As I understand it, the person only has to show the dog is certified as a service dog. Anybody can take a "service dog" anywhere that service dogs are permitted, no other questions asked.

That is patently untrue. The service dog has no rights or privileges itself. It is the disabled person that has the rights; it is hardly a "privilege" to need the assistance of a service animal, as some have suggested.

The "dog transporter" in your case did not have any rights under ADA or CA law, that I know of, to bring that dog any place that animals are not generally allowed, as they are simply a member of the general public (that was not, at least in California, engaged in the training of the service animal). I agree with you, they were out of line if it was true that they were simply using the fact that the animal that they were transporting happened to be a service animal and bore those tags to bring the animal where it would not ordinarily be allowed.

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Since the topic has shifted from a conversation about service dogs in grocery stores or restaurants to a general conversation about service dog laws/regulations or what constitutes a disability, we think the topic has run its course as a food-related discussion and we’re going to close it.

We appreciate your thoughtful input on the subject.



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