A service dog scam that gives dog owners VIP treatment at airports and businesses is enraging the service dog community and has resulted in an online petition to the Department of Justice.
It turns out it's pretty easy to go online and order a fake service dog vest for your dog, put it on him, and then enjoy all the perks that come with it -- bringing your dog to animal-free places such as restaurants, cutting security lines at the airport, flying the dog for free, etc.
Find out more in this WTMJ video.
Mobile users unable to view the video, click here.
How is this happening?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you cannot legally ask someone for proof of a disability or for proof that their service dog is legitimate, according to the WTMJ report.
The scam is frustrating the service dog community, which worries that pets posing as service dogs who act badly are creating a stigma for the disabled. A dog trainer in the above video calls the scam a threat to public safety as well, since the untrained dogs could pose a threat to people or other animals.
Judging from this Florida woman's tweet, she has felt threatened:
Is anyone else tired of seeing fake service dogs? My dog was almost attacked by a so called "Service" dog in training!— ForTheLoveOfDogs (@harleydog214) March 3, 2014
Businesses in California say the service dog scam is a growing problem, reports latimes.com.
An online petition to stop the sale of counterfeit service dog vests and certifications has been launched by Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that provides trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities.
The organization wants federal regulators to block the "alarming number of Internet companies that sell assistance dog vests and identification to anyone who wants to purchase them."