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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.

Comments

Comment from carey
Time October 22, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Here’s the thing.

From what I’ve heard, the reason for dogs not being allowed places-particularly bars and restaurants, is because of hygiene issues.

Soooo….that means service dogs are cleaner than yours and mine, don’t have hair, germs, or any of the other horrible things that dogs have that kill humans on contact?

Comment from Marie
Time October 22, 2008 at 2:55 pm

A service dog is a tool that can be used by someone with a disability, the way a wheel chair is used. According to the law, they are only considered a working dog when they are accompanied by the person they are trained to help. They are not a pet dog when they are working. They are a tool to help the disabled. They help escort the blind, help those who suffer from seizures and a countless list of other ailments. It is important that these dogs have access to buildings in the same way it is important that buildings are handicapped accessible.

What makes me really mad about this company is that it is no different than a company giving out a handicapped parking tag for $100 and for filling out an online questionnaire. I would love to be able to take my therapy dog (or any/all of my brood) with me everywhere, but I can’t. Since there is no national agency that governs how dogs are qualified and certified, it makes sense that a scammer like this would create such a sham. The sad part is that their poorly behaved dogs make the rest of us look bad. I work very hard to ensure my therapy dog complies with all regulations of the organization we belong to. In fact, he went through a year long spurt of being pig headed and we didn’t work together because I didn’t feel he would represent therapy dogs or the organization well.

Assistance dogs and therapy dogs are on the brink of becoming a widely accepted form of treatment for people who need it. In this case, a bad apple truly spoils the whole bunch.

Comment from easelqueen
Time October 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Is this how Barry Glazer got his dog certified?

Comment from pwd.sd.awareness
Time October 24, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Another scam artist. How dare this company take advantage of people and their emotions. Claiming “whether you know it or not, you’re disabled.
And as such, you’re entitled to bring your dog anywhere you want.”

Nope that is totally wrong! I wish there was a contact to that company but it’s probably out of an individuals basement. A PO Box as it were. If that!!

First you have to have a “Qualified Disability” under the ADA to ever be considered a person with a disability. Period!!! Second your dog needs to be a Individually Trained Service Animal to even be considered as a service animal. They really need to learn the law! Most of the certification scam artist never would even dare to claim what this company is claiming. And there are quite a few of these certification scam artists. Unfortunately!!!

Under the ADA laws a person with a disability does not have to show proof that their service dog is a trained service dog. (ie Certification).

Second when you think about it it’s not a service dog / animal that has the legal rights it’s the person with the disability that has those civil rights. Henceforth certification papers do not mean a thing. Because if you are not disabled then you are committing a fraud. (this could be a fine and or imprisonment).

carey wrote:
From what I’ve heard, the reason for dogs not being allowed places-particularly bars and restaurants, is because of hygiene issues….

This is true and many business will try using this with service animal teams. But in reality I think dogs are more cleaner then some of the staff at the restaurants and definately behave better then some children. (food throwing or bangging the bench.) Of course a service dog must be groomed when going out in public.

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