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Some Dog Thoughts

  • Stars and Stripes Dog Rescue

How do I know If that IS a "Real" Service Dog?

Determining whether a service dog is real or fake can be challenging, as there are no universal identifiers that definitively distinguish between the two. However, there are certain signs and behaviors that can help you make an educated assessment. Here are some factors to consider when trying to determine the legitimacy of a service dog:

1. Task-Oriented Behavior: A genuine service dog is trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate its handler's disability. Look for behaviors such as guiding the handler through crowds, retrieving items, alerting to medical conditions, or providing stability and balance. These tasks are typically performed calmly, reliably, and without prompting from the handler.

2. Proper Training and Behavior: Legitimate service dogs undergo extensive training to ensure they can perform their duties safely and effectively in various environments. They are well-behaved, obedient, and under control at all times. Look for signs of proper training, such as responding promptly to commands, remaining focused on their handler, and exhibiting calm and non-disruptive behavior in public settings.

3. Handler Interaction: Observe the interaction between the service dog and its handler. Legitimate service dog handlers typically have a close and attentive relationship with their dogs, and they may use verbal or non-verbal cues to communicate with them. Pay attention to whether the handler demonstrates knowledge of their dog's training and purpose and is able to effectively manage and control the dog in different situations.

4. Identification: While not required by law, some legitimate service dog handlers may choose to use identification items such as vests, harnesses, or patches to indicate that their dog is a service animal. However, it's important to note that the absence of such identifiers does not necessarily mean the dog is fake, as there are no universal standards for service dog gear.

5. Behavior in Public Spaces: Legitimate service dogs are trained to behave appropriately in public spaces, including restaurants, stores, and transportation vehicles. They are accustomed to navigating crowded environments, remaining calm in the presence of distractions, and avoiding disruptive or aggressive behavior. If a dog is causing disturbances, behaving aggressively, or showing signs of stress or discomfort in public, it may not be a legitimate service animal.

6. Handler's Response to Inquiries: If you have doubts about the legitimacy of a service dog, you can politely inquire about the dog's training and purpose. Legitimate service dog handlers are typically knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities under the law and may be willing to provide information about their dog's training and tasks. Be wary of vague or evasive responses, as they may indicate that the dog is not a genuine service animal.

7. Trust Your Instincts: Ultimately, trust your instincts and use common sense when assessing whether a service dog is real or fake. If something seems off or doesn't feel right, it's okay to exercise caution and approach the situation with skepticism. However, it's essential to avoid making assumptions or judgments based solely on appearances, as individuals with disabilities may have invisible or non-apparent disabilities that necessitate the use of a service animal.

Remember that service dogs provide invaluable assistance and support to individuals with disabilities, and it's important to respect their role and rights under the law. If you suspect that a service dog is fake or if its handler is violating laws or regulations, consider reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities.

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