2018-01-12 / Pets

Beware of the inappropriate and unethical use of service dog vests

By Phyllis Beasley

I am seeing more and more articles on national news sites about dogs that are supposedly Emotional Support Animals or service dogs that behave poorly in public, or in some cases have actually attacked a person. These are not service dogs or ESAs.

Like many other people, I dearly love my dogs and wish that I could take them everywhere with me. My dogs are well-mannered and obedient. One of my dogs is even a Pet Partners registered therapy dog and a certified HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response dog.

I could buy a service dog vest from one of the for-profit companies that sell the vests and purport to register dogs on a nonexistent national registry and then be able to take my dogs into restaurants or other non-dog friendly places. But I am blessed to not have a disability. My dogs provide me pleasure and comfort, but I do not have a medical need for that comfort.

The inappropriate and unethical use of a service dog vest is only harming the people who truly need the help of a service dog. As more and more incidents of fake service dogs make the news, the public use of an authentic service dog may become more difficult for those in true need.

If you do not have a medically-certified disability and have thought about purchasing one of these service dog vests from one of the for-profit companies, I urge you to reconsider and make the ethical decision to enjoy your dog for what he is…your best friend and personal comfort dog.

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