Service dogs are easily spotted in shops, restaurants and the like. They wear high visibility coats and therefore are easily discerned from simply being pets.
Belonging to and serving a wide range of owners including those who are deaf, diabetic, blind and many more. These dogs are often invaluable to their owners.
However, a California-based organisation called Canine Companions for Independence says that ‘service dog fraud’ is making it more and more difficult for genuine service dog owners to be taken seriously. The non for profit organisation provides highly trained service dogs for people with disabilities; their spokeswoman said “They have seen an increase in encounters with pet dogs, out in public, wearing service dog vests, who have obviously not been trained,” She added that it has resulted in some shop and restaurant owners taking a suspicious attitude towards people claiming their companion is a working dog.
Canine Companions for Independence have organised a petition in an attempt to urge the US Department of Justice to take more seriously the sale of fake service dog products, such as the high vis vests. Fake service dog products are easily available online and dogs are not subject to any rigorous checks.