OPINION: Pseudo service dogs saturate society


U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jette Carr

The service dog Moe is looking after his owner, retired Master Sgt. Kyle Burnett, while he competes in the 2014 Warrior Games Archery competition. Service dogs can be extremely helpful for people with a legitimate need, but the service dog title is being misused, making it harder for people with an actual need.

Abri Hausman, Op-ed Editor

No one can deny there is a growing amount of people with debilitating mental illnesses, and many people are trying to get help for it by using emotional support animals.

These animals can help with panic attacks, severe anxiety, loneliness, and depression. On the other hand, service dogs help disabled people with tasks that may be difficult for them.

Both types have protections allowing these animals to travel close to their owner in order to help with their condition. Service dogs can go anywhere their owner goes and cannot be refused, while ESAs have slightly more restrictions but are protected under the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act.

ACAA has been challenged a couple times in the recent years because people were bringing fraudulent ESAs on planes that have a higher chance of disrupting the peace or acting out inside the cabin.

Nowadays, airlines are one of the only places companies can exercise the right to ask for proper identification and registration for the animal.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, owners do not have to provide papers or any identification to confirm the animal is in fact medically prescribed. This allows people to put a vest on a dog and then be allowed to go anywhere because nothing is in place to prevent this.

However, ESAs can be registered using faulty information given to a medical professional. Someone can even request an ESA letter online where there is a 99.9% guarantee for an approved, legal ESA letter.

There is also a major problem with breeders selling “service dogs” for around $20,000 that are not trained to help with any kind of disability. Breeders can make a lot of money by breeding and selling dogs without the expensive training as a service dog.

Without a federal service dog and ESA registration system, these fraudulent, untrained service dogs are allowed to roam free and potentially cause problems that negatively reflect on the rest of the service dog community.

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