Lex Blanton, a blog writer, has created a stir on social media after posting about her frustration with people who claim their dogs are ‘service dogs’ when they are not trained or certified to be.
Given that service animals are according to the US Department of Justice “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability,” and must be permitted “to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go,” Lex has an issue with people claiming their ‘emotional support’ animals as legitimate service dogs.
Lex, who has a Miniature American Shepherd, named Faith, trained as medical alert and psychiatric service dog, as well as an American Bully, named Defiance, in training to take her place, is well-versed in what an actual service dog does. In her case, tasks include chronic migraine alert, anxiety response, self-harm disruption, and mobility assistance, among others.
Lex’s public service announcement post has gone viral after she wrote about a woman who walked into a restaurant with a toy poodle, claiming the animal was a service dog.
“This dog is not public access trained and proceeds to bark at those who walk by [in the restaurant]. This dog is a nuisance and causes many in the restaurant to complain,” she wrote. “The manager cannot do anything but inform the unhappy customers that this is a service dog, so he can’t ask her to leave. In the end, it’s the customers who end up leaving.”
Lex’s issue is that ‘fake service animals’ are hurting real working dogs and the owners they serve.
“Fake service dogs create real problems. The ones who are impacted the most are the true service dog handlers who rely on their dogs every day to help mitigate their disability,” Lex says. “How would you feel if everywhere you went, you couldn’t make it ten feet in the door because people were asking you questions?
“Businesses lose customers because word gets out that there are unruly dogs in their store, customers become misinformed and start thinking some of these behaviors are okay, some people even start to believe the lies that anyone can just register their dog online and make him a service dog. The result? More fake service dogs. More real problems.”
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