The Worst Kind of Scam Artist

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Scam artists are everywhere. And just when you thought you’d heard every scam out there, a new one sneaks up on you: imposter service animals. Yes, some people actually purchase fake “service” animal clothing so they can take their overly pampered pets with them everywhere they go.

Part of the problem is that there are no federal laws requiring identification for service animals. A recent article on npr.org quotes a business man who sells fake service dog ware online. He says if it’s not illegal, then he’s not doing anything wrong. Shocked? Read it for yourself here

So is there a way to discourage impostors without making life miserable for those with disabilities? Certainly, you don’t want to create a culture where people are suspicious every time they see someone with a service dog!

According to a recent Associated Press report on Yahoo!, this is already happening. In California, a man named Marv, who uses a service dog due to a spinal chord injury, was asked to leave his dog outside while he went shopping at a furniture store. The staff said they were forced to change their policies on service dogs after a fake one came in and urinated on some of their expensive rugs. 

Behavior is key in discerning the difference between impostors and real service animals. Trained service dogs blend into their surroundings, while an ordinary pet might bark, scratch, eat crumbs off the floor, and urinate in public.

Shutting down all businesses who sell fake service animal ware is the first step in ending this problem. Working with the medical community is another. Patients should receive their service animal clothing from their local physician, as part of a normal visit. New service gear with visible tracking numbers should be provided every five years or as needed. And we need to start shaming people who are disgracing the disabled with their selfish behavior. The next time you see a service animal acting like a poorly trained pet, report it to the store clerk.

Click on the link below for further information on service animals:

http://www.nh.gov/disability/information/community/serviceanimals.htm

Josie Jesinoski

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