Organization seeks ban on sale of products for fake service dogs

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Canine Companions for Independence is mobilizing to stop the indiscriminate sale of assistance dog vests and identification materials that allow owners to claim untrained pet dogs are service dogs so the dogs will be permitted on planes and inside public places where family pets are otherwise not allowed.

As a result of this fraudulent practice, people with disabilities who have a legitimate need for an assistance dog face added discrimination and are sometimes denied access to public places in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Man in wheelchair beside service dog
(Courtesy of Canine Companions for Independence)

“In the last few years, the questions and the looks I get have radically changed,” says Peter Morgan, whose service dog, Echuka, helps him with the challenges of a spinal disorder. “Now wherever I go, I see fraudulent service dogs. I have been kicked out of businesses because employees think I’m an impostor.”

The largest nonprofit provider of assistance dogs, CCI was founded in 1975 and is headquartered in Santa Rosa, California.

The organization is rallying supporters to send a message to the Department of Justice that the online sale of service dog products for untrained pet dogs must stop. CCI is collecting signatures on a pledge that urges the crackdown. As of July 1, CCI had obtained 29,862 of its goal of 50,000 signatures, primarily from individuals.

What can a business ask a person with a service dog under the Americans with Disabilities Act? The ADA states that staff may ask only two questions: (1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? (2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Businesses can learn more about their rights here or here.