more than five years ago, I wrote this post.
For five years, I had lived in a state of semi-denial, as though fake service dogs were both as provable and disprovable as ghosts. I knew many people who had encountered individuals passing off themselves as disabled and their dogs as service dogs, but I never have encountered one myself.
I don’t know whether the handler of the dog I encountered recently on an ETS bus has a disability, or whether her dog mitigates it by performing quantifiable tasks. But what I do know is the dog was barking and snarling at my service dog, who stood at my side and was willing – though hesitant – to board the bus while the other dog was displaying aggressive behavior toward her.
What made the whole situation worse? It didn’t appear that anyone – particularly the bus driver – was willing to do anything to address the clear safety hazard that this dog’s behavior possessed to its handler, other passengers, my dog, or myself.
I still believe every single word I wrote five years ago. But all I will add is this:
We, as legitimate service dog handlers, have a responsibility to ensure that our dogs are under control, clean and presentable, and behave well in public. This does not mean they are robots; mistakes can and do happen. But when they do, we have a responsibility to the service dog community and the general public to address behavioral issues appropriately. I don’t want to be denied service somewhere because some service dog was permitted to behave aggressively and people stood by and did nothing. That other handler’s rights were protected; mine should be also.

Life Unscripted

You and I haven’t had the displeasure of meeting, but you’ve met almost all of my friends at one point or another. You may think you’ve pulled one over on everyone, but you’ve actually made governments – state or provincial – stand up and take notice of what you’ve been doing. I wish I could say that it’s nice to meet you, but then I would be lying… something you do every day by passing off your pet (even a well-behaved one) as a service dog. Maybe you know in the back of your head that your actions may affect those of us with illnesses or disabilities who use service dogs to increase our independence or alert to oncoming life-threatening situations; maybe you just want what you want. You love your dog, I get it; I love mine, too. But just in…

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