“Where did you buy your dog’s jacket?” Or “Will you sell me your dog’s jacket?”
When I hear these sorts of questions, it’s really hard for me not to feel angry and self-righteous. After I take a few deep breaths, the conversation usually goes something like this:
I’ll ask, “Is your dog a trained service dog?”
Response, “Uhh… No. He/She’s my pet. But I want to take him/her everywhere with me, like (example/s)…”
“By law, only service dogs may wear service dog vests, and have access to restaurants (or wherever was stated in the above response).”
“But, no one will ever know. He/she is really well-behaved.”
I usually end the conversation at this point, suggesting they look up the Americans with Disabilities Act to find out the legal rights and qualifications for service dogs and their handlers. But, of course, logic doesn’t usually sway these people’s desires to get what they want, regardless of the laws. I don’t know if I’m confronted more because I live in a beach town with a university. I get truly frustrated, and try to hold in my anger.
People trying to bring their pets into restaurants and other public places, disguised as service dogs, are making the lives of those of us with true service dogs much more difficult. There are many news stories about this, as well as articles about how many people, who have pets and want to have public access with them, are challenging the rights of true service dog handlers to have our dogs with us. We are being challenged more by shop owners, restauranteurs, and, even police. I wish I could say (to a large audience), “As a person with a disability, it is my right to have my dog with me in all public areas at all times. This is mandated by Federal law. Service dogs are not by our sides for friendship. They are here for our safety. And those individuals with ‘imposter-service-dogs’ may be truly putting our lives, my life, at risk.”
OK. I’ll get off of my soap-box now. Sometime later I’ll write about how I never considered myself as having a disability until I got my low blood sugar alert dog, and realized that, yes, since I was born with diabetes, technically, I have always been considered disabled, but was not brought up to see myself that way.
** For more information on service dogs (and life with a diabetic/hypoglycemic alert dog) please go to my friend, Amelia’s, blog site: DogGoesToCollege.wordpress.com