Woman shares concerns over fake service animals

Woman shares concerns about fake service animals

We shared a story on Facebook a few weeks ago about a poodle biting a service dog after the owner of the poodle lied, claiming her dog was a service animal.

We took a look at the law behind these service animals, and what we found might surprise you.

The first time Casey Noe met her dog Cami, she says she knew instantly they would be close.

“Well we got her as a rescue, and we had just gotten a close bond right there whenever we had met,” said Noe.

But what Casey did not know is how Cami would rescue her.

“I have autism, PTSD, a condition called 'Pots,'" said Noe.

It is a disorder she says causes her to faint without warning -- that is until Cami came along.

“She is able to alert me about 15 minutes before my blood pressure goes up, so I can know to sit down,” said Noe.

She says it worries her when people pretend to have service animals.

“We're going to have people in public refuse us access because they're going to see how the fakes act,” said Noe. 

Melissa Smith works at Sauced in Macon and she says she has questioned service animals coming in.

“Because of course you see a dog coming, walking into a restaurant, but then you see the vest and you ask. It’s a service dog, no problem,” said Smith. 

But if dog's owner is not being truthful, business owners really have no recourse.  

The law protecting service animals may be contributing to the problem.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, anyone who claims they have a trained service animal can bring that pet to any public place except for religious facilities.

Businesses can only ask if the animal is required due to a disability and what task the animal has been trained to perform.

The dog owner does not have to provide any proof. The federal law does not require any certification and does not say the animal has to wear a specific vest or patch.

“They are the same things as wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen machines,” said Noe.

If "fake" service animals cause problems in public, Casey says it could pose problems for people like herself.

“We're going to be down because we're not going to be able to go out or function without our lifelines,” said Noe.

It is important to note that there is a difference between service animals and emotional support animals.

Click this link to find out the difference and to see all of the rules for the two types of animals.

© 2018 WMAZ-TV


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