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  1. These days, half the "service dog" claims are bogus. California is trying to figure out how to get it under control. I expect Florida has the same problem. I'm not judging this particular case, however.

    40 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      <These days, half the "sevice dog" claims are bogus>


      <California is trying to figure out how to get it under control>

      I hope they figure this out soon.

      < I'm not judging this particular case, however.>

      Did you watch the video?

      1. re: GH1618

        I'm not judging either, you see, but the little pooch with the bow in her hair doesn’t really give off the service dog vibe. Plus they were awfully friendly little dogs for service pets, sticking the faces up to the camera.

        1. re: GH1618

          "These days, half the "service dog" claims are bogus"
          I think the issue is a little more complicated than that. Offhand, I think service dogs are found to be useful for an increasing number of medical or even psychological issues. So more people are getting them. And if it's more efficient or more helpful than traditional therapies, then I'm all for it.

          BUT... the laws written to protect users of service dogs were written with the historical uses of service dogs in mind - largely, to aid the blind, and a few other very serious maladies. These were people who NEEDED their dogs with them all the time, and the laws reflect that. Newer users of service dogs might not have the same degree of need, but still have the same degree of protection. Which can be a problem for people with allergies, or also if the standards of training for service dogs drops as some dogs now need less training to perform their therapeutic duties than, say, a seeing eye dog would.

          What to do about this problem? I have no idea.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            Maybe some sort of I.D. card with a picture of said service animal. These cards would be available from a veterinarian or your doctor. Too much work for the pet owner? My in-laws who are 85 years old had to do some work to get their handicap parking sticker for their car. I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to require owners of service dogs to do the same.

            Interesting that there are so many more of these out of the ordinary service pets in Southern California than in other parts of the country.

            1. re: bobbert

              You beat my exact sentiments by five hours, bobbert. I was thinking a numbered and bar coded picture ID of both dog and owner riveted to the harness should suffice. And, as a suburban Philly resident, I have yet to encounter this as a problem. In fact, I can't recall the last time I saw a service dog in a restaurant. SoCal pet owners must be modeling each others' behavior to avoid having pooch stay in a hot car.

              1. re: Chefpaulo

                The husband, who supposedly has a 30% hearing loss, IS a doctor (albeit reportedly a plastic surgeon). So he can write his own necessity for a service dog. (How does a small dog in a carrier help with hearing loss? What is the dog supposed to do if a train or bus is coming?)

                And he undoubtedly verified his wife's need for a service dog, even though she refuses to disclose the nature of her need.

                Any reasonable rules you write, there are those that will selfishly game the system. And eventually it will deny those who really, legitimately need the service.

          2. re: GH1618

            Half? Really? And on what do you base this? Any facts? Statistics?

            1. re: jmckee

              where's the facts and statistics that it's *not* half?

              GH, just going by the conversations here on CH, I don't think the problem is nearly as big in FL as in CA -- but it's probably headed that way. I've started seeing more and more dogs in stores all over the place.

              1. re: sunshine842

                They are starting to pop up more and more in Walt Disney World. Either they are fake service dogs or they are the worst trained animals ever.

            2. re: GH1618

              1. "These days, half the "service dog" claims are bogus."

              I'm sure it's unintended, but there is a lot of bigotry in this statement. It is also unsubstantiated.

              2. "California is trying to figure out how to get it under control. I expect Florida has the same problem"

              How so? Disabled people are protected by federal law. The Department of Justice explains the law clearly on their website.

              3. "the laws written to protect users of service dogs were written with the historical uses of service dogs in mind"

              The federal government updated and revised the law in 2010 and 2011. They are written to aid and protect disabled people today.

              4."Dogs closed up in a stroller can't possibly perform their duty as a service dog"

              Nobody except the people involved would have that information. It's possible, it depends on the situation.

              5. "but their ability to sense and respond to someone having an attack will be grievously hindered by being zipped into a stroller."

              What makes you think that? This is inaccurate.

              6. "effort made to shut down the service-dog certificate mills"

              Disabled people do not need certificates or documentation. There are companies who provide documents to help disabled people protect their rights in situations such as this.

              7. "Change it to Advanced Self-entitlement Syndrome, and you have a condition with the perfect acronym"

              Mocking disabled people because they do not live up to bigoted stereotypes of what a disabled person should look like.... good move.

                  1. re: jpc8015

                    Or maybe it is and illustrates why the legislation has resulted in such unintended consequences which have not been adequately addressed in amendments. The lobbyists and advocates IMO tend to take rather extreme, unilateral views which make it tricky for legislators to achieve legislation which is both balanced and practical.

                    I suspect one of the unintended consequences of this type of impractical legislation is that it creates hostility towards the very groups it was designed to help. Everyone* supports genuine service dogs, although I was a little surprised at the miniature horse amendment (but pleased to note they must be house trained - I assume a miniature horse "land-mine" is still substantive), but stretching the definition to beyond breaking point will sorely tax that sentiment.

                    * sorry I don't have the published stats to prove this beyond reasonable doubt - but I understand the UK's Guide Dogs for the Blind charity had to stop taking donations a few years ago because they received too much cash to use.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      I'm afraid you may be right. This perfectly illustrates why we should not rush into legislation with wild abandon. Creating laws for the sake of creating laws is not good lawmaking.

                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                        Feed who/what first?

                        "I see nuthink!" - Sergeant Schultz

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I don't know. I mean, this post responds to an impression I also picked up from the thread. I know people here on chowhound can be sympathetic to social issues, and I know that most of the responses here are in light of two people who might well be giving off a dubious vibe. However, this more specific focus is giving way to generalisations about service animals (a domain that has expanded, and with it, as always, those who take advantage) and demands for a rigorous oversight of disabled people that places the onus on them but not the state for ensuring provisions of access. (Although I get the feeling that many on CH list libertarian, so I'm sort of not surprised by the latter issue.)

                          As for the people themselves, there is so little to glean from any short item (I will refrain from comments on Florida man and woman) so from a distance, this starts to look nasty. (Why does plastic surgery matter at all?)

                          All that said, I'm not writing this to take you to task about what has been written, but to say that the post you are treating as trollish is possibly coming from a better place than you think. (And I speak of this post only, not necessarily follow-ups, because I, too, have no idea what being a Christian should matter.)

                          1. re: Lizard

                            I don't believe that there is any question about the ensuring of provisions for access to public spaces by disabled persons. The ADA has ensured that access is provided everywhere. This problem has been settled.

                            As for the "onus" of the possibility of having to document one's right to take a service dog into a restaurant, this is blown out of proportion. For example, disabled persons who use reserved parking spaces need a medical opinion attesting to the need in order to get a placard, must display the placard when using a reserved space, and must be able to show that the placard is being used by the person to whom it is issued. That may be an "onus," but it is a minor one. I used a parking placard for a time and consider the restrictions which enable the system to be enforced to be entirely reasonable.

                            The need for service dog is no different in principle than the need for reserved parking. If the system is being abused (and I think it is clear that it is), then there must be a way to enforce it. If some persons who use service dogs think being asked to document their use of a dog as legitimate is an "onus," I say that's just too bad.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              The issue has not remotely been settled. To be ADA compliant essentially entails having wheelchair access, and there are many other kinds of disabilities. I would have no problem with requiring service dogs to be certified, provided that we as a society are willing to take on the cost of doing this. Being disabled is already expensive and to me it's not reasonable to ask for another financial burden in order make sure someone doesn't get away with an illicit chihuahua.

                              1. re: ErnieD

                                The issue of access has been settled. Where is a disabled person denied access merely because of his or her disability (excluding isolated cases of businesses which are not in compliance)?

                        2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                          1. "we should not rush into legislation with wild abandon. Creating laws for the sake of creating laws is not good lawmaking"

                          The DOJ's ADA is designed to protect disabled people when uninformed, maybe well-meaning, but people uneducated in all the issues involved try to make it overly hard on the disabled by denying them some really basic rights.

                          Why is it so hard to understand that these two are disabled? Because they don't look disabled? They don't fit some really narrow stereotype. Exactly how do hearing impaired people look?

                          If someone tells us they are hearing impaired, we have no problem believing them unless they want to do something that annoys us. In THAT case, they must be con artists just working the system. So, be hearing impaired - that's ok.... but not around me?

                          2. "I think I will get a ball python and insist that it is a service animal next time I go out to eat"

                          As charming as that idea is, only dogs are allowed to be service animals. (I believe the use of miniature horses is restricted to some specific rural areas. I may be wrong, but I remember going deep into the DOJ ADA site and seeing a reference to that.)

                          I understand that it's hard to accept the change of dogs in restaurants. It is that which is causing so much hate from people who I am certain generally are not bigots. But, unless the law is changed it's a fact of life. Do you really want to go around accusing people of not being deaf. Or worse, mocking disabled people.

                          3. "This couple appears to be working the system. Both have the same medical disability? I didn't know being a sociopath was a disability"

                          No they don't. They appear to be PO'ed. Of course it is possible for people with the same disability to be married/involved. There have been hearing impaired people medically and financially eligible for the cochlear implant. But, they declined to have the procedure to implant. Why? One reason: Because they so loved and were so involved and emotionally attached to the hearing impaired community that they were afraid that they'd have to leave it if no longer impaired.

                          I'm not sure about sociopath, but I know bigot is not a qualifying disability.

                          4. "I seem to find myself siding on the side of the restaurant on this one."

                          If even one of the two have a legitimate disability/need, I would hate to be the restaurant owner right now. In a perfect world, a sincere apology and an assurance that the staff are now properly trained and a invite back to the restaurant would be enough. But we don't live in a perfect world.

                          1. re: lilcloversprout

                            Don't hearing dogs need to be able to make contact with their owners? Tough to do in a stroller.

                            1. re: lilcloversprout

                              I am pretty certain no one bears any ill will to a disabled person who needs the help of a service dog. The concern is directed at those who are not disabled who exploit disabled legislation for their own selfish reasons.

                              I totally agree that its impossible for the "person in the street" to make a judgement about a persons disability and/or the role their animal plays in alleviating this disability.

                              Because of this wouldn't it be sensible for service animals to have a ID card verified by the owners medical practitioner and issued by the authorities. It doesn't need to have any details about the disability, but it would help eliminate abuse of this very valid right.

                              I would go further and say the ID's should only be issued for an animal that is required to alleviate the disability if the owner needs to take an animal into an area where animals are generally discouraged.

                              I can't see anything wrong with this concept, its logical, practical and looks after the interests of the individual and protects their privacy.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                1. "I am pretty certain no one bears any ill will to a disabled person who needs the help of a service dog"

                                Actually, there is a large amount of ill will directed to these disabled people. In this thread, they have been called sociopaths, liars, cheats, con artists working the system, one inference to profanity that many seconded. It is this hate that I am responding to. It's really disgusting. We don't know that they aren't hearing impaired. What makes anyone think they are not?

                                2. "Because of this wouldn't it be sensible for service animals to have a ID card verified by the owners medical practitioner and issued by the authorities"

                                Depending on how this was implemented, of course, but something like this could be very useful for everyone involved. I know there are people who are working the system. But we don't know these two are. And I know far more that have legitimate need than those that are "working the system".

                                3. "The woman found the experience humiliating, yet she’s good with toting her dogs around in a baby carriage"

                                This stroller looked like the strollers that are extremely expensive that are specifically designed to transport pets and are sold in high-end pet shops and catalogs.

                                It's possible that the dogs are normally walked with a leash but as the couple entered the restaurant they put the dogs in the stroller in deference to other customers. It was one - day time and two - it was a hot day. The dogs could not remain in the car. If they had been strolling around checking out the sights, they probably went to the car and picked up the stroller before entering the restaurant.

                                1. re: lilcloversprout

                                  No, no one is calling a disabled person a con artist. I (a disabled person) am calling persons who pretend to be disabled when thay are not con artists.

                                  1. re: lilcloversprout

                                    lilcloversprout - it would have been good for you to reflect on the whole of my first paragraph rather than just the first sentence. The second sentence qualifies the first and this makes your first point fairly redundant.

                                    I think your second point actually agrees with the sentiment of many on the board who are critiquing the scammers.

                                    1. re: lilcloversprout

                                      I met a couple walking two Yorkshire terriers in a park adjacent to my condo complex about 10 years ago. They were very interested in the complex and eager to buy a unit.
                                      They were walking two Yorkshire terriers. I informed them that there was a strict no dog policy and that they might as well just give it up.
                                      Six months later guess who was living in my complex, they no longer had the 2 Yorkshire terriers they now had two Maltese terriers????
                                      The condo board said "get rid of em" the couple sued for harassment stating that the dogs were service animals who's job it was was to jump on the obese, cigar smoking drug abusing husband, should he stop breathing while sleeping. Without getting into painful details I know with absolute certainty that this man did not have a disability, he did however have an excellent attorney.

                                      They ended up getting a beautiful new kitchen out of the lawsuit $$$$.
                                      Flash forward a couple of years, the couple divorced and his "service dogs" were fought over in a custody battle...hmph????
                                      AS long as there are shysters this is going to continue

                                    2. re: PhilD

                                      Why not just do it like disabled parking spaces? You get a permit for a valid reason, display it clearly on your person or service animal and nobody questions you as the permit is issued by the government and standardized, and easy to recognize.

                                      Is that unreasonable at all? I don't think it would cost an inordinate amount of money to have such a system.

                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                        exactly -- the system is already in place for parking decals -- adding service animals would be a fairly small incremental cost...

                                        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                          "display it clearly on your person"

                                          You mean like a big tattooed "D" on disabled people's foreheads? :)

                                          Some sort of ID that could be placed in a wallet or purse might work if a system like this was put in place.

                                          1. re: lilcloversprout

                                            there was a suggestion of a photo ID tag attached to the animal's working harness...I think that works pretty well to identify the person and the service animal, signifies that they belong together, and signifies "no further questions necessary"

                                            The disability wouldn't have to be identified, as everyone would know that yep, this has been vetted, and it's all cool.

                                  2. re: lilcloversprout

                                    I'll feed.

                                    "3. "the laws written to protect users of service dogs were written with the historical uses of service dogs in mind"

                                    The federal government updated and revised the law in 2010 and 2011. They are written to aid and protect disabled people today."
                                    Culturally speaking, 2010 is a fairly long time ago. The diversity of jobs a medical service dog might be used for has seen a very rapid recent expansion.

                                    That's beside the point though. The point is that while it is easy to see why the need for a seeing eye dog might trump another person's dog allergies (and even that's not so in the case of someone with a known anaphylaxis reaction to dogs, though this is admittedly quite rare), some other reasonable uses of therapy dogs might not. Not all therapy dogs are needed to the same extent and it seems as though not all therapy dogs are trained to the same extent.

                                    As I wrote above, I don't know what to do about this, because it's invasive to require that people state their medical conditions. Perhaps some kind of designation for service dogs that have legitimate need to be taken ANYWHERE along with a card or something. Of course, even the process of sorting out what conditions/uses fit this bill and which don't would be a nightmare. It sucks to give disabled people more BS to deal with, but allergies are a very legit concern.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      The need to not give disabled folks more shit to deal with is very real. However, it must be carefully balanced with those dickheads who will use the rule to take any animal any and everywhere they please.

                                      I think I will get a ball python and insist that it is a service animal next time I go out to eat.

                                    2. re: lilcloversprout

                                      That's not an exact figure, of course, just a first approximation plus or minus 49%. I know there are some because I have known "service dog" scofflaws personally. I also know that there are legitimate service dogs. The exact percentage is unimportant — it's high enough to be an obvious problem. Here's a link to a news story on the subject:


                                      Anybody who thinks there aren't a lot of scofflaws gaming the system here is naïve. There are scofflaws gaming every system where they might be able to get some advantage out of it.

                                      The charge that I am bigoted against disabled persons is laughable. I don't take offense, because I attribute it to ignorance. I spent months in a wheelchair recovering from a serious illness and still have pernanent disability. I had a legitimate need for disabled parking privileges for nearly a year, but could rarely get a disabled parking space because there are so many scofflaws in California cheating on their parking placards. I personally know someone who used her husband's parking placard when he was confined to long term care, and continued to use it for months after he died. If you think that there are not many people similarly willing to cheat on disabled parking rules, service dog rules, and every other sort of rule, you are not thinking very clearly. Perhaps you live in some sort of utopia where everybody is honest, but it isn't California.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        1. "The charge that I am bigoted against disabled persons is laughable. I don't take offense, because I attribute it to ignorance"

                                        I have had a disabled parking placard in California since about 2007. I rarely have a problem finding a space. One of our best friends is a parking enforcement officer here. She is a Christian and a severe stickler for details and the rules. Because there are some jerks that use a dead relative's placards, she runs the serial number off the placards. Once in a while she finds one being used illegally. I have spoken with her about this, while she does run across this, it is rare.

                                        Of course laws to help disabled people are going to be taken advantage of to some extent. But, are we going to stop trying to help? I hope not. Yes, put safeguards in place. But, let's not get carried away with negative attitudes towards these two and come off looking like people we don't want to be.

                                  3. Interesting -- I live in Tampa, and this hasn't caught even a flicker of traction locally.

                                    But I smell a rat. Dogs closed up in a stroller can't possibly perform their duty as a service dog, whatever affliction these two imagine themselves to suffer.

                                    But yeah -- I agree with GH1618 that there needs to be a very hard look at what constitutes a "service dog" and an effort made to shut down the service-dog certificate mills.

                                    55 Replies
                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      That's exactly what I was thinking, sunshine. I couldn't hear the video that well here at work, so I'm not sure if it was stated as to what the dogs were supposed to do from a medical basis.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        it was never explained-- no mention of the "disability", no mention of what the dogs are trained to do, and no mention of where the certifications are.

                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Change it to Advanced Self-entitlement Syndrome, and you have a condition with the perfect acronym.

                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                  The law explicitly prohibits asking the nature of someone's disability. That's why the news clip doesn't supply that information. The fact that there's no publicly stated information doesn't mean there isn't a wholly legitimate reason for a service dog.

                                                  If the restauranteur or a news reporter had inquired -- and, to make an important point about the ADA, I'm assuming there really is a legally qualifying answer -- that would have created even more legal exposure for the restaurant.

                                                  The ADA is not an invitation for the general public to vote on who is or is not deserving. And that is exactly what appears to have happened in the real-time incident, let alone on this board. The recorded voice of the restaurant employee calling the police states, "They're saying that their dogs are service dogs, but I don't think that they are."

                                                  The employee has violated the ADA the instant he challenges the dog owners claim of disability. We don't know how the employee who confronted the couple phrased his/her question/challenge, but it was obviously enough for the female manager with the piece of paper in the video to do some after-the-fact training of her staff. I suspect she has been advised to do so by her lawyer.

                                                  1. re: Indy 67

                                                    the fact that the story has died in the Tampa Bay media (and was only mentioned on 2 of the 4 local networks) should tell you that the story didn't have legs to begin with...

                                                    had there been a legitimate disability, the shrieking and rending of clothing would still be ongoing, with interviews of anyone who had ever known the couple, the dogs, or anyone who'd ever been within a 10-mile radius of the restaurant.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      In fairness, it might have died because both sides of the argument are essentially non-verifiable, and the story wasn't all that compelling in the first place. If the dog-owners aren't willing to state their disabilities in the news (and though I agree that these particular dog-owners have a very hate-able vibe, I don't blame anyone for not airing their medical history on TV), then the story was pretty doomed to start off with.

                                                    2. re: Indy 67

                                                      It's pretty clear to me that the ADA needs revision to ensure that the problem can be dealt with in a reasonable way. It isn't necessary to inquire about the nature of a person's disability. All that is needed is a way to document that an animal is, in fact, a service dog, and that the person with the dog is the person entitled to use it. A photo id for the dog would suffice. This is more a burden than carrying a license in order to drive.

                                                      1. re: Indy 67

                                                        If anything, this should be an example of what is not a reason to call 911.

                                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                                          Indy - it's worth pointing out an employee can ask two questions. First, is it a service animal required for a disability, and second, what work or task does the dog perform. If the couple failed to answer these questions satisfactorily I assume the restaurant can legally deny entry.

                                                          The phone call could relate to those two questions, and the managers training could simply be a defence mechanism based on legal advice i.e. to demonstrate they are taking their responsibilities seriously and have a training plan in place etc etc.

                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                            You're the second person to claim that employees can ask what work or task a service dog can perform. Unfortunately, this information is directly contradicted by the Civil Rights Lawyer who is interviewed as part of the news segment that is part of the link the OP provided. (Scan half way down the page.) And using my own logic, I don't see how this line of questioning is possible. For an employee who is suspicious and challenging, the level of disclosure needed to mollify the employee would simultaneously disclose medical information.

                                                            Employee: I'm sorry, but dogs are not allowed in this restaurant.
                                                            Guest: This dog is a service dog so your request is inappropriate.
                                                            Employee: What tasks is the dog trained to perform?
                                                            Guest: He's an alert dog.
                                                            Employee: What do you mean he's an alert dog?
                                                            Guest: He signals when I have a medical need.

                                                            If the employee is smart and well-trained, he'll stop there and let the matter drop. What if the employee pursues the matter?

                                                            The next answer would reveal information about the guest's specific medical condition, which every agrees is a legal no-no.

                                                            If you have a link that verifies your statement that employees can ask questions about the training and tasks the dog can perform, I'd really appreciate your sharing them. In the meantime, you might want to listen to the Civil Rights Lawyers statement.

                                                            1. re: Indy 67

                                                              Perhaps this guide published by the US Department of Justice will help. It clearly states businesses may ask what task an animal has been trained to perform.


                                                              Even civil rights attorneys can be mistaken... though it's rather incredulous. I can't imagine how many times it took him to pass the bar.

                                                              I realized the guide above is a bit dated. Below is another link to the updated guide with the information confirmed


                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                  Yes, very clear and helpful. I've copied (below) the pertinent information about questions that may and may not be asked of the person claiming to have a service animal. So if we go back to my hypothetical dialog between the guest and the employee, the conversation is legal as long as the employee stops the conversation exactly where I speculated he/she should.

                                                                  ##When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task

                                                                  1. re: Indy 67

                                                                    Agree - and what happens if the server doesn't believe them. It sounds like the burden of proof is with the restaurant.

                                                                    But that said if a "reasonable person" could assume they are not service dogs because for example: they are a matching pair, housed in a stroller, have bows in their hair, and don't demonstrate the disciple expected by service dogs. Then maybe its a strong defence and thus OK to exclude them.

                                                                    But I suspect it has not been tested in court yet.

                                                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                                                      These conversations go on every single day because there are no shortages of perfectly abled people willing to exploit laws designed to assist the disabled for their own benefit. Sadly, it makes it more difficult for those with legitimate disabilities and trained service animals.

                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                            I believe I heard a brief mention in the video that they were "alert" dogs. A quick google shows that alert service dogs are trained to help diabetics and people who get seizures.

                                                            1. re: pamf

                                                              but their ability to sense and respond to someone having an attack will be grievously hindered by being zipped into a stroller.

                                                              1. re: pamf

                                                                Yes, you heard right. They were described as "alert" dogs, a word which has multiple meanings including the one you uncovered with a search.

                                                                The post immediately after yours (and a few more down this thread) simply dismiss the alerting function of a service dog, claiming that the only legitimate service dog for SOMEONE WITH A CONDITION LIKE SEIZURE DISORDER is one who is big enough to brace the fall of someone having an episode. THE FACT THAT THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF SEIZURE DISORDERS HASN'T ENTERED THE CONVERSATION. A TINY DOG THAT ONLY ALERTS ITS OWNER MAY BE PRECISELY THE CORRECT TYPE OF SERVICE ANIMAL EVEN THOUGH OTHER TYPES OF SERVICE DOGS EXIST TO DEAL WITH OTHER KINDS OF SEIZURE DISORDERS.

                                                                Full disclosure: The text in caps was added to clarify a point that I didn't make explicit in the original version of the post.

                                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                                  what exactly is your stake in this story?

                                                                  Nobody anywhere made any claim about the only legitimate definition of a service dog. If that's all you took away from the conversation, you're not reading very carefully.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Stake? What an odd word. Are you saying that unless a poster has a stake in a topic, he/she shouldn't be posting? Are you saying that if a person has a stake in a topic he/she has to disclose that fact? Should we be asking that question of you and everyone who has posted in this thread?

                                                                    If I must have a stake, here it is: I saddened by a pattern I see in today's society. We're having great difficulty solving hard problems because people are jumping to conclusions and substituting bias and assumption for logic.

                                                                    We don't know the facts in this situation and, given the nature of the ADA law, unless this goes to trial, we aren't likely to do so. This Florida incident is one more example of people staking out entrenched positions without the benefit of full information.

                                                                    1. re: Indy 67


                                                                      You are confusing the discussion about **these particular dogs** and **these particular people** with opinions about service dogs and disabled people in general.

                                                                      I lived in Europe -- I am quite used to seeing dogs in restaurants, and have taken my own pooches into restaurants in Europe, and onto patios advertised as dog-friendly here.

                                                                      I have worked with people who needed service dogs for various disabilities, and am in awe of the dogs and their ability to help people live normal lives.

                                                                      I have an enormous issue, however, with people claiming disabilities where none exist, whether for a companion animal or a parking decal, and with people who will lie (yes, LIE) and pay the fees to obtain a bogus service-dog certification for a disability that doesn't exist, when they really just want to have some excuse as to how the rules don't need to apply to them.

                                                                      I have had a couple of unpleasant first-person experiences with this sort of liar in recent weeks, and I genuinely hope that karma catches up with them.

                                                                      These idiots really do exist...and the biggest blinking red light is their very vocal insistence about how much they need this service animal. My experience is that the folks who have a legitimate need feel no need to broadcast it.

                                                                      It is long past time that the steps be taken to ensure that service dogs are regulated in the same way that parking spaces are regulated.

                                                                      Nobody has to tell what their disability might be in order to park in a handicapped space, and I'm fine with that. They do, however, have to display a decal/license plate/hang tag indicating that a medical professional has deemed this decal/plate/tag is necessary.

                                                                      The same goes for service animals -- all you need is a jacket/harness/tag indicating that someone with the qualifications to say so feels that this service animal is necessary.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Her point is you don't have any facts about "these dogs" and "the owners." You're just ASSuming that these owners are liars and those dogs are not service animals. What's grating is that you insist on others of not "reading carefully" or "confusing" the issue.

                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                          If the people who take dogs into restaurants were required to have documentation, then we would have the "facts," wouldn't we?

                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                            Sure, go talk to your congressmen and have the law changed.

                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                              WE don't need to have the facts for others' disabilities. The general public should not be judging others when they aren't involved. Even with disability placards, I know people who are harassed by the general public who think they can "see" disabilities and know better. It's very common for people to be attacked for parking in spots, even w/ the placards. Some people are just unwilling to give people the benefit of the doubt and see everyone as bad. See what's happening to this couple? People have no idea and yet immediately determined that they're guilty.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                I agree with your entire post, with one caveat:

                                                                                "See what's happening to this couple? People have no idea and yet immediately determined that they're guilty."
                                                                                I genuinely believe that a good deal of the quickness with which the couple has been judged is based not on their particular claim but on their manner. A quote from the lady:
                                                                                'The manager descended with her wrath, like a loaded gun, on us'

                                                                                Or the fella:
                                                                                'I think I was embarrassed... for her [the waitress who initially questioned them]'

                                                                                Regardless of the righteousness of their claims, these people kinda need to be slapped down.

                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  No one should be judged on likeability. Slap them down with known facts, not assumptions.

                                                                                  As all this goes, I fully support 1) laws that are strict on pretending to be disabled when you're not, with harsh punishment and 2) laws that say the general public needs to MYOB and not question them to their face, which also happens often. Even worst are the passive aggressive types--"Well, I guess they give out placards to EVERYONE these days."

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    These two hearing impaired people are being vilified because they are disabled and are standing up for their rights.

                                                                                    They are being attacked by people who feel their line of thinking is logical and their conclusions justify their prejudice.

                                                                                    Bigots always feel they are in the right.

                                                                                    I just want to highlight one particular comment: "these people kinda need to be slapped down." If we could have signatures I would ask the author of this brilliant statement permission to use it in mine. Because it is really amazing.

                                                                                    I mean who wouldn't want to "slap down" two middle-aged people who are hearing impaired - one's a woman and the other one is a veteran who became disabled while serving? Especially when you consider they had the nerve to assert their legal rights. Geez some people. Maybe a good beat down is not enough - how far should it go?

                                                                                    I know that people think that taking the time to make a distinction between true disabled people and frauds is important. And that by making this distinction they are clearly not being bigots. Under some circumstances that might be true. But not in this case of this thread.

                                                                                    To make it easier to understand, instead of the disabled, pretend we are talking about a particular race of people. You can't say you hold no prejudice with disabled people but at the same time attack 50% to 100% of those claiming to be disabled. That's like saying, I have no problem with those people, those [insert random race here]. In fact some of my best friends are [insert random race here].

                                                                                    If you continue to say, well, sure, I don't really have any hard data but, I know, everyone knows, it's common knowledge that half of those people, those [insert random race here] are con artists, criminals, frauds, working the system for their own selfish benefit. At least half and sometimes all of them can't be trusted. They are liars.

                                                                                    And if you go on spouting knowledge of and training in in picking up and correctly reading the "vibes" coming off other people and state that it's obvious that those people, those [random race] are obviously lying. Don't trust them. Don't believe them.

                                                                                    The laws meant to protect those people, those [random race] are unneeded, poorly written. They are obviously a product of a flawed system. How dare those people be protected by federal law. It is not bigots but these laws that are causing us not to trust those people. It is these laws that are causing such rampant self-entitlement. I mean how dare them, those people, expect to be served politely in a restaurant.

                                                                                    And btw, the "slap down" guy quoted above, wasn't talking about frauds but about these actual two disabled people. Who, because they were treated so rudely and illegally were simply embarrassed and PO'ed.

                                                                                      1. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                        Where do you get the "hearing impaired" bit from. I understood their disability had not been disclosed - the dogs where simply described as "alert dogs".

                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                          there is not a single mention in any of the links in this thread alluding to the handicap(s?) in question, so it's erroneous to state that they're hearing impaired.

                                                                                          All it says is that they are service dogs.

                                                                                          and your argument about race? Could you show us some examples of someone who was able to pull off a lie about their race, please?

                                                                                          Considerably tougher than lying about a disability...

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            “Where do you get the "hearing impaired" bit from. I understood their disability had not been disclosed - the dogs where simply described as "alert dogs".
                                                                                            there is not a single mention in any of the links in this thread alluding to the handicap(s?) in question, so it's erroneous to state that they're hearing impaired.”

                                                                                            I’ve mentioned several times that they were hearing impaired. Did you just pick up on this? Hehe I got that information from other posters on this thread.

                                                                                            Two days ago:
                                                                                            "Apparently he's a surgeon who claims to be 70% deaf from his time in the navy.... She refuses to say what her 'disability'" is…Withnail42

                                                                                            Then there was the guy on this thread that referred to these two as sociopaths: he said that they had the same handicap. It was the fact they were both hearing impaired that proved to him that they were scammers and liars. Which of course is ridiculous but none the less that is what he thinks.


                                                                                            Ok, I went back down to the post FROM TWO DAYS AGO. In that post there was a link to a news story. In that story (referring to the two hearing impaired people):

                                                                                            "Sher and her husband both have service dogs. Dr. Davis said his dog is there to alert him after he lost 70 percent of his hearing while serving as a naval surgeon. Sher wouldn't disclose her disability."

                                                                                            1. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                              Thanks - I had missed that.

                                                                                              Could you educate me on one aspect of this. The dogs are zipped into a buggy. They are alert dogs, I understood the alert dogs for those who are deaf paw or touches the owner to alert them.

                                                                                              As these two are confined to a buggy do they bark to alert their owners?

                                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                No, problem. In a long thread like this it is easy to miss stuff sometimes.

                                                                                                Ever since this started, I have been imagining what I would do if I was in their shoes. I mean if every single variable was the same what would I do:

                                                                                                Two disabled people instead of just one, age range, they appear to be financially comfortable (so can afford that dog stroller), hearing impairment vs. an ambulatory issue, choice of dog breeds,etc.

                                                                                                If it was me, if every variable was exactly the same, I would generally have those two dogs on leashes - for several reasons (most of which are not relevant to this discussion). However, before entering a confined area, especially where food is going to be served to the public, I would in fact put those two small dogs in that dog stroller. I would do this in deference to other customers and to put management concerns to rest and to make sure if the dog barely moved his tail wouldn't get into the walk way. If I could afford the stroller, I would do that.

                                                                                                Would you prefer they bring the two dogs in on leashes instead of the stroller? It just seems better for all involved for the stroller to be used.

                                                                                                At some other point in this thread someone relayed a story about a service dog biting a TSA agent. The disabled person had to proceed without the company of the dog. The ADA clearly states the dog must be completely controlled by the disabled person. Can't go around biting people. I got the impression that this poster was implying that because the person was able to proceed with the flight without the dog that the person wasn't really all that disabled. Just a fraud.

                                                                                                The problem with this little theory like so many is this: people who have seizures don't have seizures every minute of every day. They may only have a few seizures a year. But, the risk for a seizure to occur does exist every minute of every day for the patient. So that is why the alert dog needs to remain at the disabled persons side at all times.

                                                                                                So, the guy in the airport says to himself, well I can either cancel my trip or risk going for a few hour without the dog. The trip may have been vitally important - too important to cancel. So, he decides to take the medical risk. It's a situation that doesn't come up very often.

                                                                                                So as far as the two folks in the restaurant in Florida, those dogs might normally be on leashes. But placed in the stroller for the event of eating breakfast. But, regardless of that, the dog could simply be trained to bark if the hearing impaired person is in danger. People might laugh at that idea, but if he has 30% of his hearing a small, yappy little dog might bark at just the right pitch or volume to get his attention.

                                                                                                1. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                                  I related the TSA story. The animal in question turned out to be an emotional support animal, not an actual service animal, as he told the airline AND TSA as he transited the checkpoint. Animals traveling as 'paid passengers' are required to be in approved crates. Once police arrived to question the gentleman, he told them the truth about the dog's status and a friend picked up the dog for quarantine, as required by city ordinance.

                                                                                                  Sadly, there is a financial incentive for folks who wish to travel with pets to lie about their status. One, the airline cannot charge the usual in-cabin fee of $75, $100, or $150 each way and they are guaranteed a spot in the cabin.

                                                                                                  I certainly didn't mean to imply fraud or that it was a just a theory of mine. It was genuine deception, though this person's true motive is unknown to me.

                                                                                              2. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                                That's something that I didn't focus on. That shows much more attention to detail than the holier-than-thou crowd.

                                                                                                1. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                                  "He claims" -- I can claim to be Wonder Woman.

                                                                                                  She never said anything about her "issue" -- "she declined to say" -- so we have no indication whether she's deaf, blind, or suffering from ASS (see elsewhere for acronym)

                                                                                            2. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                              I feel more than confident enough in my lack of bigot-ude towards the disabled to openly acknowledge that it's possible to simultaneously be both disabled and a jerk who should be slapped down (metaphorically speaking, and not because of their disability). Disabled people, just like the rest of us, can still run the gamut from wonderful individuals to raging assholes.

                                                                                              I was commenting on their manner of speaking - they're obnoxious. It wasn't that they stood up for themselves but rather that they were arrogant and ridiculous in doing so. Which doesn't mean they're wrong. Or right. It just means they're obnoxious. And that was actually my point - that people are seeing someone obnoxious and assuming (perhaps incorrectly, perhaps correctly) that they're wrong.

                                                                                              You can disagree that they're obnoxious. We might have different definitions of we almost certainly have different definitions of obnoxious. But if you don't understand that my judgment had nothing to do with either their disability or their standing up for their rights, then you need better reading comprehension.

                                                                                              1. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                                I can tell you are passionate about the subject, and I respect that, but your analogy to race is flawed in that there aren't people pretending to be [random race] in order to take advantage and/or profit off of laws in place to protect against bigotry. Reason why is we can't ultimately fake our race but we can fake or exaggerate a disability. A simple swab proves my race, but it can't prove my need for a cute lil' Yorkie in a stroller to be with me 24/7, and what a shame that is! Although I prefer larger breeds that can actually scare away burglars and reach the refrigerator handle, but I digress. Until there's a definite litmus test, there will naturally be skeptics, but that does not make them bigots.

                                                                                                1. re: AniseSpice

                                                                                                  "...Reason why is we can't ultimately fake our race but we can fake or exaggerate a disability. A simple swab proves my race, ..."

                                                                                                  I don't know about that. You should check out the affirmative action threads on the college admission forums.

                                                                                                2. re: lilcloversprout

                                                                                                  Do you know these people in real life? Are you 100% positive they are disabled? Just because they say they are doesn't mean they are. Yes, perhaps that's cynical. So sue me. This whole situation still reeks of gaming the system by this couple.

                                                                                                  Again, a photo tag on the harness showing that the service animal has been vetted as medically needed by a doctor, and that a vet has certified that the animal has been trained for the specific tasks would solve this issue.

                                                                                          2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                            the fact that this has died down and is completely gone from local media coverage tells me that they really didn't have a legtimate gripe...which means that there was something about the dogs and/or their behaviour that didn't stand up to scrutiny.

                                                                                            dogs with barrettes in their fur (no jacket, no harness, no tag) zipped into a closed stroller (i.e., not in close physical contact with their charges, and unable to nudge the owners as an alert of any kind) MIGHT be legitimate service dogs.

                                                                                            But I really don't think so, and the last time I checked, I'm completely allowed to think that.

                                                                                          3. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            So...if you advocate for your right to have a service dog, you don't legitimately need one? I have known several people who needed service dogs and had to fight pretty vehemently for their right to have one, because many people still think of them as "seeing eye dogs" and make themselves free to argue that you couldn't possibly require one for seizure disorders, PTSD, or any other invisible disablity.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Some good points in this post.

                                                                                              *Edited to clarify: Some good points in Sunshine842's post. I fear the threading in this forum makes it appear I was commenting on another's post.

                                                                                        2. re: Indy 67

                                                                                          I suspect the suspicion was raised in this case for many by the behaviour and "presentation” if the dogs. They looked like a pair of pampered pooches in their buggy with bows in their hair, their subsequent behaviour (the dogs not the owners) on the video seems to confirm this.

                                                                                          Clearly they could be service dogs but to the average person they really don't look the part. So in the absence of a ID card the owner who genuinely needs a service dog could at least make an attempt to dispel controversy by treating the dog like a working animal (which I thought was required to help define boundaries for the animal).

                                                                                          The argument that a person won't want to draw attention to the fact they have a disability is a moot point. Using a service dog does this when they bring the dog into an area that bans dogs.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      Dogs who are trained to alert their owner about an impending seizure can certainly do their job from inside a closed stroller. Those dogs bark or physically nudge their owner to get them to lie down, a safer situation than having a seizure in a standing or even seated position. I imagine that other service dogs are trained to provide assistance in ways I'm not even aware of.

                                                                                      That said, I'm in no position to decide whether these particular dogs were or weren't service dogs. All I can say is that the public's definition of a Lab or German Shepherd acting as a guide dog are well in the past.

                                                                                      1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                        They are also trained to lie next to or brace themsleves against the individual should they go break the fall, difficult to do from a stroller.

                                                                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                          it's not possible to nudge their owner from inside a closed stroller.

                                                                                          I also would be keenly interested to see how a couple of miniature mongrels could possible break the fall of anything bigger than a toddler -- but still physically impossible from inside a closed stroller.

                                                                                          As above, the story has completely disappeared from Tampa Bay area news outlets, which would indicate that there really isn't much credence to their story.

                                                                                          Believe me when I tell you that the four local television stations would chase it down for all to see if someone had a blister from some imagined slight that could be misconstrued into an injury.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            A small dog may break the fall, but the dog in that case would be considered "one time use," hah.

                                                                                      2. The restaurant is not allowed to ask what the disabilities are (apparently both husband and wife have disabilities that are helped by these service dogs) nor for documentation of the dogs' training. But if they file a lawsuit, I presume they'll need to disclose this information at least to the restaurant's attorney (and to the court if they get that far).

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: drongo

                                                                                          Hopefully at least it brings attention, as sunshine said, to what actually constitutes a service dog, and to shut down "certificate sites" that provide these fake IDs.

                                                                                          Celebrities claim their need for their pets to be with them to relieve "stress" and give "emotional support", and it denigrates when service dogs are truly, actually needed.

                                                                                          According to the ADA, "A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability."


                                                                                          An emotional support dog is NOT a service dog.

                                                                                          "When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task."

                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            I think dogs can help owners who suffer from extreme self-centeredness. The owners get to focus on something other than their own personal desires by having to feed the dogs and maybe even push them around in a stroller.

                                                                                        2. This couple appears to be working the system.
                                                                                          Both have the same medical disability?
                                                                                          I didn't know being a sociopath was a disability.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: dave_c

                                                                                            The woman found the experience humiliating, yet she’s good with toting her dogs around in a baby carriage.

                                                                                              1. re: EM23


                                                                                                I saw my first dog stroller a couple of years ago.

                                                                                                We were recently on vacation in upstate NY and noticed many stores and restaurants had signs stating no animals allowed and any service animal required proper documentation.

                                                                                                I wish I would have taken a picture of one of the signs.

                                                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                  there's a family in our town who has a potbellied pig who accompanies them to outdoor festivals in a purple stroller.

                                                                                                  He's a pretty cool pig, but meh.

                                                                                            1. People claim animals are service animals all the time in order to avoid airline fees and keep their pet with them in the cabin of aircraft. Two weeks ago a man's 'service' animal bit a TSA employee in the face as he was being screened. Naturally, his friend came to collect the dog and the passenger continued his travels without his 'necessary at all times' service animal. It's RIDICULOUS.

                                                                                              Laws need to change in order to keep pace with the biggest disability I've encountered so far, acute hyperentitlement.

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Susangria

                                                                                                AH is estimated to effect 1 in 3 Americans and is increasing every year.

                                                                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                  It's a chronic condition. You can only manage the symptoms.

                                                                                                2. re: Susangria

                                                                                                  Do you remember where that happened Susangria? I would be interested in reading about it and I couldn't find it in a Google search.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                    It happened at San Diego International Airport approximately 3 weeks ago. Possibly a month.

                                                                                                    1. re: Susangria

                                                                                                      Thanks! I'll keep checking.

                                                                                                      Edited to add: Gave up. I must be inept.