Licking the tears of a disabled nation
The website is called bringyourdoganywhere.com — operating under the auspices of “American Service Dogs, Inc.” — and according to it, whether you know it or not, you’re disabled.
And as such, you’re entitled to bring your dog anywhere you want.
“We believe that all Americans could be considered to have one or more physical or psychological disabilities, based on the criteria specified under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Under the ADA, individuals with disabilities are entitled to the assistance of a service animal.”
It goes on to cite the advantages of having your dog “certified” as a service dog:
“Landlords cannot refuse to rent to a person because of his service animal, nor can they require an additional security deposit. Privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxis, theaters, and sports facilities, are required to allow persons with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business areas in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.”
For $365, American Service Dogs, Inc. will send you a dog vest, service dog patches (“we do not sew patches to vest”), a “Personalized Service Dog Identification Card,” a laminated brochure called “Service Dogs and the Law,” and one year of the company’s “Take Your Dog Anywhere” quarterly newsletter.
To qualify, one needs only fill out an online questionnaire, stating that one has one of the following: major depression, bipolar (manic) phase, schizophrenia, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or mobility impairment.
After checking off the box representing your disorder, you then choose, from a list of options, how your dog helps you cope with that disorder. For example, under major depression, you can click on “cuddle and kiss” or “lick tears away.”
Once that’s done, one merely fills in the rest of the blanks — name and address; the dog’s breed, age, name, weight and color; the name of a witness; and, of course, your credit card number.
One also must check a box, attesting “I/we hereby attest that the handler has a qualified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act; and the above named animal’s primary function is as a service animal for the benefit of its disabled handler, and that the animal is qualified by training, is well behaved in public, and is under the safe control of its handler while working…”
Presto, your dog is a service dog. Online, it’s as easy as becoming an ordained minister.
You can now bring your dog anywhere you go, and if anyone gives you a hard time about it, simply flash your laminated “Service Dogs and the Law” brochure.
What’s wrong with all this? Being a person who feels dogs should be allowed pretty much everywhere humans are allowed, I get a kick out of it on one level. But on another, more important one, I think it’s an insult to all those who really do require service dogs, who really do train them, and who really do use them to work with people with disabilities. On top of that, it’s an insult to real service dogs.
Absolutely, a dog can be of great assistance to a person with physical or psychological problems, but there’s a real certification process one can go through, as opposed to what sounds like little more than a diploma mill for service dogs.
American Service Dogs, Inc. is a private company founded in 2008. The website was launched this year. Nowhere on it, that I could see, was contact information. The website encouraged questions via email, yet provided no email address.
To learn more about service dogs, and therapy dogs (which aren’t legally afforded the same access as service dogs) visit one of the many legitimate organizations that train and place them, such as Assistance Dogs International, the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, or the Delta Society.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 22nd, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american service dog, assistance dogs, bringyourdoganywhere, certificate, disabilities, disabled, dog, dogs, guide dogs, handicapped, patches, service dogs, therapy dogs, vest, website