Passing of pets as service dogs - from the law enforcement side - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Passing of pets as service dogs - from the law enforcement side

To pre-empt - I'm looking for actual case law, etc.

A scenario:

A poster on GSD.com has posted that they take their dog into local stores that are not pet friendly, only service dog friendly, and marked as such. The poster admits the dog isn't a service dog, but does it anyway and lies to store employees and customers if questioned or looked at too hard. Someone that knows who this person and dog are and happens to frequent the same areas sees them in a store.

Lets make it a bit more interesting and say the person who sees them and knows they aren't a service team is with law enforcement.

What, if anything, can be done? I understand the laws pertaining to questioning the average joe, but even with understanding that, I'm not clear on the law here given that the person knows the dog isn't a service dog, and the person handling the dog isn't in need of a service dog by their own admission. Is there actual case law, can citations be issued, or is the worst that happens is that they are told to leave the store?
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post #2 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:37 PM
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Minnesota

I popped over the Mn Revisor of Statutes web sit. I'm not a lawyer, but I worked in law enforcement for 25 years so I have a pretty good knowledge of reading statutory language. I also looked at some legal opinions, both published and unpublished.
Very confusing. The law in Mn (and I beleive it mirrors Federal law, but not totally) is that the dogs have to "receive training from a legitimate service training program." However, it is noted that the law does not define what a legitmate service training academy is.
It also refers to Federal Fair Housing and Access act. It also defines in MN when service animals can be excluded from any location. It is not common for exclusions to occur.
There are also a series of opinions that say that PWD have a right to access, but that service animals do not enjoy the same rights.
Go figure. My guess is that it is going to take a case going all the way to the US Supreme Court to define these issues.
I can tell you that in 25 years, I never had a call, nor do I know of a call about a service dogs legitimacy.

I e-mailed a friend of mine who is a County Attorney here in MN, but have not heard back from him yet.
My guess is that the best way to find an answer is to contact the State Attorney General in your state. Each state also has some sort of human services commission that could help out.
It appears that this is one of those laws that no one really did a lot of follow up on. I think because of the apparent "loopholes" a lot of people have taken advantage of weak language to claim status for their animals.

Good Luck.
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post #3 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CassandGunnar View Post
There are also a series of opinions that say that PWD have a right to access, but that service animals do not enjoy the same rights.
Go figure.
Yes, what that means is that the PWD and the dog as a TEAM have the right to enter, but that the dog itself doesn't have the right. For example, husband and wife - wife is disabled and the dog is her service dog. She decides she doesn't want to go grocery shopping that day, so the husband can't take the dog shopping just because it's a service dog.

Ref: no runs to check to see if the dog is actually a service dog with a PWD - I understand. Haven't heard one around here either. Yet.

Regarding training - here, at least, not sure about nationally, a dog isn't required to be trained at an actual facility. I'm just trying to understand if there is any actual LAW being broken, and if so what that specific law is. Is there a federal law that specifies to this in particular, or would this have to be a local city ordinance?
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post #4 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:54 PM
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was at walmart yesterday and a woman was in there with her little toy poodle. She merely couldnt leave the house without her 'baby' that day so the dog is riding around in shopping carts and all that and not a service dog. NOBODY said anything or did anything. I brought it up to a manager at the store and she basically said they couldnt do anything about it. They could ask if the dog was a service dog but couldnt ask for proof. The dog was just along for the ride.

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post #5 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Going to clarify again.

If a law enforcement officer sees a dog and person that they know are not a service team, can anything be done.

I know the laws pertaining to what the store employees can do (which is basically nothing beyond asking if the dog is a service dog). What I want to know is if there is an actual LAW about what can be done if a person has admitted their dog isn't a service dog and admitted that they lie to employees about it when questioned.
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post #6 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:57 PM
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Same thing here. Does not have to be trained in a facility, just has to perform a service for a PWD.
As far as Federal laws...........I cannot even begin to find basic information about Federal laws. It is very complicated and difficult (for me) to decipher and understand.
That's why I suggested your State Attorney General.
I've dealt with the MN AG on several issues and their office is always helpful and eager to provide assistance.
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post #7 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by KZoppa View Post
was at walmart yesterday and a woman was in there with her little toy poodle. She merely couldnt leave the house without her 'baby' that day so the dog is riding around in shopping carts and all that and not a service dog. NOBODY said anything or did anything. I brought it up to a manager at the store and she basically said they couldnt do anything about it. They could ask if the dog was a service dog but couldnt ask for proof. The dog was just along for the ride.
Hey, I've seen far worse things in Walmart than Toy Poodles lol
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post #8 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CassandGunnar View Post
Same thing here. Does not have to be trained in a facility, just has to perform a service for a PWD.
As far as Federal laws...........I cannot even begin to find basic information about Federal laws. It is very complicated and difficult (for me) to decipher and understand.
That's why I suggested your State Attorney General.
I've dealt with the MN AG on several issues and their office is always helpful and eager to provide assistance.
Will look further into it certainly.

There are a few here, ILGHAUS (sp) for example, that know service dog law far better than anyone you could possibly imagine. I am hoping she will chime in. And AbbyK9 seems to have pretty good working knowledge of it as well.
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post #9 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 08:02 PM
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I would say, in MN at least that I would advise the officer to take the information about the person.....basic ID information and refer the matter to local prosecutors.
It is so touchy about what you are even allowed to ask a PWD about their condition and limitations.
If a law enforcement officer suspects or is given information that a law is being broken, they have the right gather information or investigate. Since it is considered to be a misdemeanor in MN and a property crime, I would recommend this course of action.
In an extreme case, or if there was any urgency, I would contact a prosecutor on spot and seek guidance.
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post #10 of 110 (permalink) Old 01-16-2011, 08:02 PM
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Hey, I've seen far worse things in Walmart than Toy Poodles lol

oh i have too but i was still mad about it.

OP as far as laws around MY area, the max they would get is a fine. I contacted an officer who is going to put me in touch with a local attorney who may be able to find a case i can post. But to the officers knowledge a fine is all they can do here.

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