Ever been in a grocery store and see a dog in a cart who is a "service dog?"
Or how about this familiar scene: a "service dog" pulling its owner on a flexi leash?
People who legitimately need a service dog are aware of how service dogs should act in public. People who just claim their dog is a service animal, though, have no idea what the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is and that their dog needs to be trained. The ADA states that, generally, a dog must be kept on the floor but can be carried for glucose alert or other disabilities where the dog would need to alert to changes in chemicals through the handler's breath. Therefore, stores are not required to allow service animals to be placed inside a shopping cart.
More often than others, people with fake service dogs will claim they have their dog with them because they "have anxiety" and "just the dog's presence helps them."
Unfortunately, that answer that does not qualify for having a service animal. If it did, 3.3 American adults would be allowed to legally have their dog in public with them as that is how many people over 18 are affected by anxiety in America. The ADA specifically states that if the dog's mere presence provides comfort, it is not considered a service animal.
We are starting to see a widespread epidemic of fake service animals and some people truly don't know that their dog is a fake. When you go to Google and type in "service dog," it automatically recommends "service dog registration." People see this option, click it, and are now seeing websites that seem legitimate and are titled things such as: "USA Service Dogs," "Official Service Dog Registry," and "US Dog Registry."
These websites sell kits for service dogs that cost up to $200 and includes a vest, leash, certification, service dog tag, etc. The ADA clearly states that service animals do not need to be certified, therefore the websites are a scam. Documentation and licensing can be requested from the city in which you reside if they require it for all dogs, not just service dogs.
What your service dog will need is proper training. This can take up to two years, possibly more. Obedience and task training is crucial because your dog must be well-behaved and must know tasks that will specifically help your disability.
Florida recently made their laws more strict in regards to fake service animals, making it possible to be charged a $500 fine, 30 hours of community service and up to a 60-day stay in a probably no so luxurious jail cell.
Spot the fakes and educate!