there’s a lot of posts on here and other social media about fake service dogs, how to spot them and what not, and it pisses me off.
when you see a service dog, IGNORE THEM. don’t scrutinize, try to figure out if they’re “real” or anything of the like. turn your head away and act like it’s not there. because your staring is still RUDE no matter your goal.
and if, by some chance they do something outside of service dog etiquette that does NOT make them fake. you can’t know the tasks they are needed for by looking at them, so DON’T judge.
“but the handler is letting people pet it!!” maybe it’s an allergen detection dog and it doesn’t affect their job to let people pet them outside of meals. again, you can’t know by looking at them, so IGNORE IT. you don’t get to decide how other teams operate.
a lot of service dog etiquette is about making the dog invisible, and as unobtrusive as possible. that’s all well and good, but let me make this very clear: disabled people do not need to take up as little space as an able person to be allowed in public. service dog doesn’t have a perfect heel position?? handler still deserves to walk through stores. service dog doesn’t tuck properly?? handler still deserves to sit. just as oxygen tanks, crutches, or any other accommodation can take up space, so can a service dog.
and i’d like to bring up the legal definition of a service dog((in the us)):
Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog
that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an
individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability. The ADA requires the animal to be under the control of the handler. This can occur using a harness, leash, or other tether. However, in cases where either the handler is unable to hold a tether because of a disability or its use would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, the service animal must be under the handler’s control by some other means, such as voice control. The animal must be housebroken. The ADA does not require covered entities to provide for the care or supervision of a service animal, including cleaning up after the animal. The animal should be vaccinated in accordance with state and local laws.
that’s it. as long as a service dog hits all these, the handler has the legal right to be in public with it.
dogs that are not task trained, are out of control or otherwise outside of the definition are not allowed in public, but it’s the responsibility of the establishment to remove them, not yours. tell an employee if you’re concerned, but do not take the situation into your own hands. there’s a time and place for sd education, and the middle of walmart sure as hell isn’t it.
is it frustrating dealing with the general public and their lack of respect for your service dog?? absolutely. but don’t blame it on other teams. blaming disabled people for ableism helps no one.