A good friend of mine shared something on his Facebook that everyone should share. It's probably the best article yet on why it's wrong to pass off a pet as a service animal. People are doing this in record numbers. Airline workers have complained to me and told me in confidence it's a runaway problem and one that they're not even allowed to confront passengers about. Grocery store managers have wrestled with it. Restaurant owners have had to decide between health codes and losing customers. All because people are selfish enough to pretend their pet is a service dog just so it can go with them everywhere.

If this is you, you need to be told something. You're not doing it because you love your pet. In fact don't even call yourself an animal lover at all. A big part of love and one of the most important is respect. Real animal lovers also respect animals. Legitimate service animals are highly skilled, highly trained dogs that serve their owners in performing tasks they have a hard time doing themselves. Those animals ought to be highly respected. They have abilities other animals don't and they are a cut above in having taken to the training. When you pass your mere pet off as a service animal it's disrespectful. In a way it's the same kind of disrespect shown when a guy passes himself off as a police officer or a veteran. So don't tell me you're passing your pet off as a service animal because you're such an animal lover. You are from from it.

For those who delude themselves into believing any ESA (emotional support animal) is the same as a service dog, you are sorely mistaken. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a legitimate service dog as one that is trained to perform specific tasks. While someone suffering post traumatic stress disorder can have a dog to help the condition, it is only considered a service dog if it's actually trained to do so. The act specifically states, “dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.” In other words, when you have an anxiety condition and you tell your shrink having little Fluffy with you calms you down and he writes some note saying you need this dog to help your anxiety, that still doesn't make your dog a service dog.

When you go online and find websites that sell fake credentials and vests to make any pet a service animal, that doesn't mean it really is one. When a store owner is not allowed to question you about why you need a dog brought in with you or how it helps whatever may be wrong with you, that doesn't mean you get to abuse the system and fake it.

You are not only disrespecting the skill of service animals by passing your dog off as one, you're also disrespecting people who are truly disabled and have a legitimate need. You're making their lives harder, because every time you bring your obviously fake service dog into places with you, you're conditioning managers to question these dogs more and more, even the legitimate ones.

Read the linked article. If when you're done you still feel it's okay to pass off your pet as a service animal then there's something seriously wrong with you. If you selfishly do this you may tell yourself it's because you love your animal so much. That's not why you're doing it. It's because you love yourself so much. You're a shallow narcissist, not an animal lover.

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