As the Executive Director of ADW, there are few things I appreciate more than encountering people enjoying their pets. Many professional establishments, such as a wonderful boutique hotel that I recently stayed at in San Francisco, welcome pet dogs and thankfully, the dogs’ owners respect the privilege. During my time at this hotel, I frequently saw pets ambling around the premises with their owners. What the animals and owners went without, thankfully, were something that we at ADW take seriously: the fake service dog vest, which is being seen more and more often at establishments in New Mexico and around the country. (Canine Companions for Independence, supported by Assistance Dogs International, is asking 50,00 people to take the pledge to stop service dog fraud in the form of fake vesting of service dogs.)
This article written by Laura K. Smith, a reader (“Reader’s View“) of the Santa Fe New Mexican (“It’s Wrong to Create Fake Service Dogs“) brings up many of the issue around fake vesting of pet dogs — something that truly violates the rights of people with disabilities and puts them and their fully trained service dogs in jeopardy. Putting fake vests on a pet dog is punishable by a $1,000 fine in the state of New Mexico, a law that was sponsored by State Senator Nancy Rodriguez and championed by the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities. It took effect on June 13, 2013.
Laura K. Smith’s article begins:
I love my dog. She’s an important part of my life and I would love to be able to take her more places with me. She’s well-behaved (mostly) and friendly. Why not purchase a vest and “certification” from some dishonest Internet vendor and start parading my pet around as a service dog? I could take her into restaurants, theaters, wherever the public is allowed. I could even demand she be allowed on airplanes and into hotels free of charge. Well, I don’t because I know it’s a federal crime, and it demeans the hard work real service animals perform.
To read the full Reader’s View and comments, visit this link.