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Discussion Starter #1
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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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 I also looked at some legal opinions, both published and unpublished.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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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Discussion Starter #5
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #8
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #11
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.
That would imply there is a local ordinance against falsley identifying ones dog as a service dog and one as a PWD and entering a store. I haven't been able to find that here yet, which is why I'm asking. One can't just make up a fine for something deemed wrong. There has to be an actual law against it, which I can't seem to find.
 

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While there may or may not be a federal or state law, wouldn't it come down to the company's store (corporate) policy since it is private property? For example, Walmart's policy on service animals can be found here:

Walmartstores.com: Service Animals for People with Disabilities Policy

It interestingly states:
Service animals come in all breeds and sizes, may be trained either by an organization or by an individual with a disability, and need not be certified or licensed. Service animals do not always have a harness, a sign, or a symbol indicating that they are service animals. A service animal is not a pet.
While the "not a pet" part eliminates most people, it certainly wouldn't eliminate a person who is recently disabled and is personally training their pet to become a SA. As Walmart's own policy states that the animal can be unlicensed/certified and trained by an individual, then such a situation could be allowed.

I get your question. If there is such a law, then I would think that an officer can rightly investigate. But if they are both in private property with a policy allowing the animal under certain conditions, then I'm not sure how the law would be applicable. Someone with more experience with how private property policy rights apply to state laws could probably offer some interesting perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Fraud would probably be almost impossible to get filed here, given that the person isn't taking anything from the business.

Impersonation isn't illegal here, unless it's a police officer, etc.
 

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A store is a private or corporate business and, to some extent, has the ability to make its own rules as to whether dogs who are not Service Dogs are allowed inside the store, as long as allowing the animal does not interfere with other laws, such as, for example, health codes.

Gander Mountain is a very good example for a corporate business that allows dogs that are not Service Dogs inside their stores. Even Gander Mountain stores that are part of a mall allow dogs inside their stores, BUT they can not go from the Gander Mountain store into the rest of the mall because the policy for the rest of the mall is different.

And it's either Borders or Barnes & Noble (I do not recall which) that makes a good example of a store that will allow dogs if the presence of the dog does not violate any other laws. Their stores allow dogs only inside stores where there is no cafe or where the cafe is on the second floor (and dogs would then only be allowed on the first floor), because to allow the dog in the cafe area would be a violation of the health code.

Corporate businesses such as Walmart have rules regarding Service Dogs in place because they have previously been faced with situations where people claimed their dog was a Service Dog and Walmart kicked them out, or where real Service Dogs were excluded due to a lack of training on the part of the store associate or manager.

I do not think Walmart's rules are ambivalent or leave room for interpretation. It very clearly allows for owner/handler trained animals, just as the ADA does, and it points out that no official certification is required, just as the ADA does. Walmart's policy is essentially just a mirror of the ADA.

However, you will note that Walmart's policy does not include or address Service Dogs in Training (SDITs) and only refers to already trained Service Dogs. The ADA also does not specify access rights for handlers (or trainers) with SDITs whose dogs are not yet fully trained Service Dogs. Those are covered under your state's laws, which are often very specific about whether SDITs are allowed or not, under what circumstances they are allowed, and who is allowed with them (handler or trainer), etc.

You will also notice that there is nothing ambivalent about Walmart's page on Service Animals. It states very clearly that "Service animals are individually trained to work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities." This is very important because it legally defines what a Service Animal is. It would be nice if it also defined what an "individual with a disability" is because in order to have a Service Dog, you need to be legally disabled, not just medically disabled.

If you are not legally disabled and your dog is not trained very specific tasks to mitigate your disability, then your dog is not a Service Dog and you are not entitled to having a Service Dog with you, regardless of what the dog has been trained to do.

My German Shepherd would pick up items from the ground, bring them to me, throw them in the trash or hamper as indicated, and I was working on teaching her to open the refrigerator and turn off the light. These tasks, which many Service Dogs do, would not make her a Service Dog by any stretch of the imagination because I am not legally disabled.

From what I can tell, most states consider bringing a fake Service Dog to be misdemeanor fraud and the punishment in most states I've read about is a $1000 fine and up to six months in jail.
 

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While there may or may not be a federal or state law, wouldn't it come down to the company's store (corporate) policy since it is private property?
Not necessarily. When it comes to stores that carry food, such as a walmart that carries food, it is illegal to bring a non service animal inside regardless of what the individual store would allow. It has to do with laws on food sanitation and health codes. Restaurants that allow dogs are only allowed to have them in outdoor seating, cannot allow them inside. And it doesn't matter if the person with the dog doesn't go near the food, just being inside the restaurant or the store is illegal.

As Walmart's own policy states that the animal can be unlicensed/certified and trained by an individual, then such a situation could be allowed.
Walmarts policy is taken from federal laws. Federal laws do not require certification of a service dog. The reason for this is to allow the maximum benefits to the PWD. However, during training the dog is NOT a service dog but is a service dog in training which has NO protection under federal laws. Service dogs in training are only offered protection under state laws, and that differs from state to state. In Indiana, the law is quite ambiguous stating that the service dog in training has the same public access rights as a service dog when accompanied by "a service dog trainer." Service dog trainer is never defined, so that can be interpreted as someone from a training organization, or possibly the owner trainer. When my service dog was in training, I called individual stores to ask if they would allow a service dog in training.

I am not familiar with how to go about prosecuting someone who is breaking the law. I DO know that the individual store can take someone to court if there is any doubt over the dog being a service dog. In court you must prove to the judge that the animal is indeed a service animal. This entails proving your disability and medical need for a service animal. Proving at least the minimum of obedience, public access, and service task training under federal law. Most with service dogs have incredibly detailed logs of the training to present if ever needed. If the judge determines the animal to NOT be a service dog, then the handler is under the full penalty of the law.
 

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Looks like Chris and Lin gave some great info. So if I repeat with they have already posted it is only to link that info to a few more bits that I can offer.

As already said, the rights go to the owner/handler. The dog itself has no legal rights. An easier way to think of this is to think of the dog as a piece of medical equipment that allows the handler to go out and about into the community. Yes, hard for us dog lovers to think of a dog in the same way as a cane or a wheelchair but remember the law is about *logic* and not *emotion*. At this point there is many times someone that pops up with "well they don't refuse someone with a wheelchair into the store." (That was in some cases only resolved because of the ADA but that is another thread topic.) At this point the best answer would be that wheelchairs don't affect others' health but it is possible that a dog might, thus the health codes concerning animals in certain places.

And has been posted, a dog trained as a SD is only considered a SD when being used by PWD.

The ADA is a civil rights law and as such is handled differently than criminal law.

If a merchant calls the local police dept to report a dog in their store the most the police can do is ask the owner to leave with their dog. They will only do this if the merchant has reported the dog is being very disruptive or presenting a danger or the condition of the dog is such that it alters the purpose of the business. Examples would be the dog is distroying merchandise or damaging furnishings, the dog is lunging at or otherwise acting aggressively toward customers, or the dog is so dirty or vermin laden that customers leave. Imagine a filthy stinking dog sitting near your table while you tryiing to eat your meal. This last example is not the many times one given: a dog hair may float in the air and land on my table. Many times a request by a merchant is in a grey area and the police officer may be hesitent to get in the middle as they are unsure if the handler is legally disabled, the dog has been trained to mitigate this disability, or possibly the merchant is blowing the situation up because they just for some reason don't want the dog there. Different depts may have instructed their officers how to handle these situations or they may not. This part is a training issue of indiviual departments and of the officers themselves but again - a topic of its own.

Most times the person when ask will leave quietly and of course they then have the option to make a complaint to corporate if they feel their rights were violated. If they don't leave quietly or they themself become aggressive then the police officer(s) can take further actions under criminal law if warranted.

Police officers deal with criminal law not civil rights law. (Sometimes instances are a combination of both and that makes it harder to understand.)

So hold on to these thoughts .... :)
 

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As a customer the only option you really have that may bring any result is to report your knowledge to management. Will the store do anything - probably not as it is your word against the person claiming their dog is a SD. You may get a staff member who acts on it but there is the big chance their manager will not be happy with them. The whole thiing can open up mega problems for the store owners from lawsuits to public opinion outcrys.

If you report your knowledge, that report coupled with the action of the team may move the store manager to question the individual themself. Here they are limited in what they can ask. Store employees and management are walking into potential troubled waters here with what they say or do. (Here is a reason true SD handlers are so upset with fakers. So many untrained pet dogs are drug around that their actions leave bad feelings with store staff so when a legit team enters they may be viewed in a bad light just be stepping into the store.)

Saying all of that, you may get a staff member ready to jump at the chance to tell the individual to leave but probably that would be because of the staff member themself either through a lack of education on the matter or the push needed if they already are wanting to eject the person and their dog.

Is there actual case law, can citations be issued, or is the worst that happens is that they are told to leave the store?
Remember the ADA, of which Section III dealing with the Public Access Rights of a disabled person, is a Civil Rights Law.

In the most accurate sense a citation is in many locations only issued for traffic violations though some locations will have an officer issue one instead of arresting someone for a minor criminal offense if other criteria is met.

But strict terminology aside, a police officer does not deal with civil rights law but only the criminal law side. Here it can be confusing if you think back on civil rights violations of say the 60s where the police had such a huge presence. In these situations they were not dealing with the actual violations of a person's civil rights but with issues such as trespassing, holding large public meetings that violated municiple codes and the like. So bottom line is no the police will not force someone to leave a place of business because that individual may have lied that their dog was trained to mitigate their disability.

The answer to if there is any case law based on a customer vrs. individual lying to take their dog into a place of business - in my opinion NO. In order to bring someone to criminal court there has to have been a criminal statute broken. And in criminal law it is not an individual taking someone to court (that is a small claims court situation) but a bench warrant issued by a judge, a charge made by the state's atty. office, or a parole office violation. Here going into more details about arrests being different from court actions or other legal procedures would be just tossing in topics not dealing with the OPs question.

To sum this part up, lying in itself is not a criminal law violation.

But there is case law where a business has taken an individual to court on the matter if a dog was in truth a SD.
 

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On Rerun explaining about the handler's rights vrs. dog's rights.

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.
Good example. :thumbup:
Remember, the ADA is a Civil Rights Law which is under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Division. So it is the wife's disability that is being addressed in that the Service Dog mitigates her disability in a manner that allows her the ability to access a location that is available to the public.

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.
My experience is somewhat different than yours and not quite as many years but if you are refering to a customer calling in a complaint that someone is in a store with a dog I don't even see law enforcement responding. Where is it going to go? Not an arrestable situation unless it happens in one of the states addressing this in their statutes and chances are if the management didn't place the call they are not going to proceed in a formal process anyway. I would just say the call center would log it in as a citizen complaint call and nothing further would happen. Of course if someone called in and reported a dog in the store growling and trying to bite people that is a different matter but not the question asked by the OP.

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.
Police officers don't give out fines based on health code violations. Police officers don't give out fines based on someone's word that they know someone and they know that the person is lying. There is a legal process that must be gone through before any action could be taken. And you should keep in mind that not all states have statues against falsely claiming a dog is a Service Dog.

Rerun posted
That would imply there is a local ordinance against falsley identifying ones dog as a service dog and one as a PWD and entering a store. I haven't been able to find that here yet, which is why I'm asking. One can't just make up a fine for something deemed wrong. There has to be an actual law against it, which I can't seem to find.
This goes along with the statement above where I posted that false impersonation of a SD is only against the law in some states. And then the penalties vary by those states. In some cases are there not only fines & fees, but jail time, and the possibility of having the dog taken from the owner. The State of MO also has the option to take away some of the person's state benefits - those given by the state apart from those given by the Fed. government.

Remember this whole thread was based on someone knowing that the individual in question is lying.
~ Is this person going to be willing to go to court on the matter of someone lying to store staff?
~ Is the store owner going to get involved?
~ Is the state attorney's office going to take on the case?
~ Who is going to pay for court costs and lawyer fees?
~ What proof does the individual have against the other? Are they going to be able to convice the judge to order to make availble to the court the medical files of the person who claims to be disabled?
 

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Rerun, sorry for the length of time and the wordiness to my answering you but I was just wanting to show that as far as I know there is no case law on the subject of a customer or *someone who knows* vrs. a faker. But we do have case law where a store or place of business has won against someone claiming their public access rights were violated when the place of business refused the dog inside. My only advice would be to someone who knows someone is a faker is to inform the store manager if they are in the store or place of business at the time when the faker and their dog is present.

Thompson v Dover Downs, which was first ruled in favor of the business in the State of Deleware and then again in appeal with the Superior Court of the State of Delaware. 11-03-05.

Grill v Costco, where the court system confirmed the legality of store staff questioning a customer if her dog met the DOJ reg. law given in their Business Brief. This final decision was given by the United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle, by Judge Thomas Zilly dated 01-22-04.

Yes, a great many of us who already spend time to educate and advocate and in some cases even lobby wish there was more we could do as individuals against those fakers or even people who post on the Internet about abusing the system. It is a slow battle and one that at times we sometimes get very discouraged.

It would be of a major help if there was enough public outcry to those with the power to make the laws tighter and the punishments more severe. Until the punishment outweighs whatever benefit these fakers get by breaking the law then these scums will continue thumbing their nose at authority. And many will continue to say, but it is only one dog and it is well-behaved and not causing any problems for anyone.
 
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