The Billion Dollar Fraud In The Therapy/Service Dog Industry… and it’s not what you think!

In the last year, The Dog Knowledge and our non-profit subsidiary The Dog Knowledge Service Dog Foundation have been contacted by local newspapers, magazines, reporters, the Wounded Warrior Project and the Green Beret Foundation and in December, 2013 NBC’s America Now filmed at our facility for over 5 hours.  The segment aired on Tuesday, February 25th at 9:00am, and is available online here. Recently there have been stories written about the fact that you can buy an “online service vest” for your dog and take your dog into public places posing your dog as a “service dog.” As trainers of service dogs, we had to laugh at this discovery — this practice has been known to us for years and years! The reasons are many that this practice needs regulation. Reasons such as: Business owners are afraid to question even the most obvious “fake” service dogs for fear of being sued. These “fake” service dogs have been known to bite people as often they are untrained. These “fake” service dogs have been known to visit restaurants, department stores, etc. and have been seen urine marking items or having a potty accident. Owners of the “fake” service dogs are well versed in the law and know that business owners have their hands tied to complain about even disruptive behavior from a service animal. While this story may have people aghast at the people taking advantage of the hard fought laws that the Americans with Disabilities have worked to gain over the years, we as service dog trainers feel that there is a far deeper, far more sinister, far more heinous fraud that is being committed in the name of the Service Dog/Therapy Dog or Assistance Dog industry. That fraud is regarding the dog trainers who are preying on people with disabilities and raking in billions of dollars from the unknowing seeking a service dog as well as from donors thinking they are giving to a good cause.  These trainers and agencies promise to train a dog for a variety of disabilities.  We recently received a phone call from a desperate father of an 11 year old child with severe autism who has never spoken.  The father attended a forum for families who are dealing with autism. Present were a number of vendors including a noted “shock collar trainer” who promised the families of autistic children that he would sell them a...
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The Dog Knowledge featured on America Now!

Despite appearances, not all service dogs are legit. America Now reached out The Dog Knowledge to learn more about “fake” service dogs. Check out the video that aired this morning! Read the transcript below:   About 50 million people live with at least one disability, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports most of us will need one at some point in our life. Service dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. They help the disabled live an independent life. Most of us have seen one wearing a special vest, collar or harness. What you may not realize is that some of these dogs are actually wearing a bogus badge and are not service dogs at all. Fake service dogs are an unfortunate trend that continues to rise, and they’re not doing a service to those who really need them because the fake ones create safety, health and legal problems for businesses and communities. Greater awareness will help stop the trend and here’s how you can spot one. Trained to signal, Brio helps her handler spot the smallest trace of peanut to prevent an emergency. Scarlett can save the life of her diabetic human by scent detection of high and low blood sugar. Ivy is trained to do the everyday tasks that someone with a mobility disability couldn‘t do alone. Improving someone’s livelihood or saving their life is every service dog’s job. But it’s one easily impersonated by household pets because of unethical owners trying to reap special privileges by duping the public. “I’ve seen a service pig, I’ve seen a service cat, I’ve actually seen a service parrot,” said Debbie Lange who is with The Dog Knowledge, a members only fitness, training and social club for dogs. Chances are, you’ve seen a fake service animal, too. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers the use of a fake service dog a federal crime and in some states the offense is punishable with fines. Even though it may be regarded as a crime, it’s hard to enforce because a phony dog, or any other animal, is hard to detect. “Technically, they don’t even need to wear a vest,” Lange pointed out. Many fake service dogs wear fake vests which appear legitimate because it’s easy to purchase authentic-looking insignia collars, badges, identification cards and jackets online. They can be put on nearly any household pet to help...
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