Several states crack down on 'fake' service animals: 'The dog is there to work'

States crack down on "fake" service dogs.

STAR - Several states have started cracking down on service animal laws after people started trying to pass their pets off as service dogs. Idaho isn't one of those states, but we wanted to look into this problem.

When Kit doesn't have his vest on, he does what any normal dog does. As soon as he puts his vest on however, he knows it's time to work.

Since 2014, two years after Jason Gehringer was diagnosed with PTSD, Kit has been a half step in front of him.

"He knows my triggers," Gehringer says. "He knows what will trigger me and he'll push me away from it. If people start getting into my space he puts himself in between me and them."

A Veteran Affairs study found that on average, 22 veterans die by suicide a day. 

"I had decided that that was one of the routes that I was thinking about taking and Kit stopped me," Gehringer says.

Gehringer says Kit fills a need that he wishes he didn't have, so when it comes to people passing untrained dogs for legitimate service dogs he's disappointed.

"I don't like it at all," Gehringer says.

Gabby Ryals with Symbiosis Service Dogs trained Gehringer's dog.

"Somebody could have a doctor's prescription which is what is required for a service animal, and someone could have a legitimate need for a service dog and a dog may even do a task or two," Ryals says.

To be a service dog, though, they have to be specially trained to do tasks to help that person's disability like a guide dog.

Idaho law protects those with disabilities to have service dogs in public places. According to Idaho code though, there isn't a requirement of documentation or identification including unique dog tags with regard to service animals which could make it hard to determine if a service dog is legitimate or not.

"Even if someone is to bring in a fake it's not that that people notice," said Ryals. "Its the fact that the dog is ill-behaved. The dog is barking, the dog is pulling, the dog is jumping on tables, that is what gives service dogs a bad name."

This problem could pose a threat to actual working dogs.

"They're just not well-trained dogs," said Gehringer. "They are there for a purpose and they do so much for myself and for others."

Gehringer says his message to anyone who is trying to pass off their pet as a service animal should do the research and understand why service dogs are really needed.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment