Ok. We have talked about this A LOT. I am sorry that I keep harping on this same issue, but this has to be said. DO NOT TRY TO PASS YOUR PET OFF AS A SERVICE ANIMAL.
Honestly, I am so irritated that I even have to state this again, but it just won’t stop happening. Try googling “fake service dog” and see how many hits you get. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
One of Casper’s cousins had a run in with this recently and just yesterday we were approached by someone saying how they wished they could take their dog everywhere.
We were at church and this person (since we see them all the time and some of our friends at church read this I will not go into too much detail and give the person away) said that he/she would like to take their dog everywhere, especially hotels. We nodded, knowing that many people have this wish and hearing it often. This is not a strange desire. We would hate to leave our pet at home, especially for long trips. But this person went on to pat Casper’s vest and ask where to get one. I was now skeptical, but said we ordered it online. Then there was more talk and I explained that if the dog provided a real service this person should check into getting it certified, really just humoring them while making sure to point out that there are actual requirements to all of this. The whole time we are smiling and trying to be polite. We do our best to be kind, even when we are starting to get a little exasperated. Finally, I clearly stated that this person should be aware that trying to pass a pet off as a service animal IS ILLEGAL.
Maybe, I thought, this is the angle I need to stress. Yes, it is annoying. Yes, it is pretty low. Yes, it causes a world of problems. And, yes, it is ILLEGAL. This can earn you fines, prison terms, and/or loss of future benefits (such as Medicare, Social Security Benefits, Food Stamps, etc.).
People need to really think about this before they do something stupid.
Let’s say you get off easy and are hit with a fine. This could be a very large fine. Maybe so large that you have to start picking up some odd jobs to make ends meet. One of these odd jobs is helping some old guy from Craigslist clean out his basement. You show up to discover that the old man is Adam West and he has built a perfect replica of the Batcave from his Batman television series. He puts you to work cleaning. While you are cleaning the McDonald’s wrappers out of the inside of the Batmobile he jumps in and announces he needs help because The Penguin has an evil plot afoot. Before you can jump out he has taken off at full speed, trapping you in the vehicle. Before you know it you’re at an aquarium and Mr. West is fighting with the penguins. You try to stop him, but the penguins get mean and you have to try wrestling them off of yourself. The police show up and you are arrested for breaking and entering, assault, animal cruelty, and a number of other crimes. You may not have gotten jail time for you fake service dog scheme, but it came around after all.
Don’t wrestle penguins with Adam West and don’t pretend your pet is a service animal.