August 5, 2013

The "therapy dog" scam.

This is something I've been pointing out for years, but here's a NY Post article about how shamelessly bad people are getting in NYC.
“I was sick of tying up my dog outside,” said Brett David, 33, a restaurateur whose tiny pooch, Napoleon, wore an unofficial “therapy dog” patch during a visit to Whole Foods on Houston Street.

Sometimes, they’ll give me a hassle and say bring the papers next time, but for five bucks, you order [a patch] off eBay, and it works 90 percent of the time,” he told The Post.... David merely had to say “service dog” at a Starbucks on Delancey Street and again at a dumpling eatery on Broome Street for him and his furry friend to be allowed inside.
This is like medical marijuana. Once there's an exception that people will lie to get into, you might as well let everyone do it. As more and more people fake it, you're only restricting the honest people.

Here's my longstanding "service animals" tag, beginning with "When I travel I tell hotels up front that 'Alexander Dog Cohen' is coming and he is my emotional-needs dog."


John Lynch said...

Since dogs are the new children, why not?

Smilin' Jack said...

Most dogs are cleaner, better behaved (and much cuter) than most kids. Let the dogs in; tie the kids up outside.

JackOfVA said...

In Germany, along with some other European countries, taking your dog to a restaurant is accepted, so long as the dog is well behaved and doesn't annoy the other customers. And in several years of working in Germany, I can't recall a misbehaving dog at a restaurant.

I would like to see the same arrangement here.

Anonymous said...

So many scams. So little time.

CatherineM said...

This is a current refrain on Adam Carolla's podcast. People bringing their dogs everywhere, including planes.

I think it all started with Carrie Fisher.

When Rosie Perez brought her dog (she was doggie sitting) to the podcast, the dog pee'd on some of his papers. She laughed and said, you didn't need that did you? Not terribly concerned about his papers or the rug. Pretty much sums it up.

I love dogs and don't mind them everywhere, but I understand some people are allergic or fearful. People need to respect that.

Unknown said...

Ewwww. Dog hair and slobber all over clothes in a retail store. Not to mention all those owners who think it's ok to let their dogs go to the bathroom anywhere they see fit.

As a person who is allergic to dogs (and the potential health code violations in a restauant), I can think of few things more disgusting.

John Scott said...

These are the same type of people that abuse the use of handicap stickers. Here in LA they seem to give them out to anyone who wants one. They don't just take up the designated parking spaces. Here they get to park in metered spaces for free and so it's common to see lines of cars with stickers parked along our streets.

tim maguire said...

There are so many ways our society encourages cheating and dishonesty.

Either dogs are a health hazard or they aren't. And that, not a patch, should decide whether they come in or not. No exceptions, no special cases.

Even if I am blind--my blindness does not excuse undermining publc health.

tim maguire said...

J Baker said...Not to mention all those owners who think it's ok to let their dogs go to the bathroom anywhere they see fit.

All none of them?

Oso Negro said...

One of my favorite scams is using a wheel chair to appear disabled to get on an airliner before the other customers. Many of the same folks who can barely walk getting on the plane pop right up and zoom for the exit on landing.

natatomic said...

Oh honey, I could have told you this was an issue ages ago. You remember the story of the rich moms renting handicap people to get unlimited fast pass access at Disney World? Another way to do it is to get these fake service animal badges, bring in Fido, and bingo. No more waiting in line. In the last year, they've made it so that we're required I now WATCH THEIR ANIMAL while they ride because families were complaining of formerly being split up. It's not fun if the ride goes down while said family is on the ride, and I can't leave the dog (only coordinators and managers are allowed to stay with it - though we have no training to deal with animals either) to run the down time. Gotta hope I have a few good cast members on hand who I can trust to get the job done until another leader shows up.

Greg Hlatky said...

I once suggested on my Facebook page that now that we have handicapped spaces, more people are handicapped; now that we let service animals on planes and in restaurants, more people need their service weasels; now that we let the wheelchair-bound through security quicker, more people are in wheelchairs and suddenly recover at the gate. Was it worth being honest anymore?

You'd think I'd accused anyone taking advantage of these things of child molestation. So: everyone who says they have special needs can't be questioned, ever, and anyone who does so is a heartless bastard. Because shut up.

Mark Trade said...

"As more and more people fake it, you're only restricting the honest people."

Sounds like DRM as well.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

We have three dogs. However, after many years of selling at farmers' market I began to have problems with "therapy dogs" choosing to wet down some of my products.

Repeated complaints to the owners usually elicited a response on the order of "there's nothing you can do about it, so shut up." Until one owner brought her "therapy dog" to my stand three weeks in a row and encouraged him to lift his leg.

After the second time I told the owner "Do that again, and I'll take care of it." Of course she came back, and when the dog lifted his leg I kicked him so hard he rolled about 15 feet, earning a huge round of applause from other customers.

Owner called the cops. Customers told the whole story. The woman got a citation and was ordered never to return to the market. Cop's comment to her: "If you're that dependent on a dog, you should be in an institution, not jeopardizing food safety. A dog is a dog. Get him out of here and stay out of here." Another round of applause.

People are getting rather sick of extreme interpretations and applications of the ADA.

Anonymous said...

I blame the lawyers, as the reference to the ADA above hints. No "victim" is too normal for a another law and another suit.

Unknown said...

There is a distinction between "therapy" dogs and actual, "Service/assistance" dogs, which is dictated by the Department of Justice.

Actual Service dogs are protected by law, must meet certain criterion and merchants still have the right to 'dis-invite' them if they are dirty, obtrusive or in any way a nuisance.

"Therapy" dogs are afforded no such distinction, and the dipstick that tries to use "therapy" as an excuse to force access to public places, transportation or housing should be excoriated to the fullest extent of the law.

A service dog mitigates the disability of a human handler by being able to perform tasks that the handler cannot. A "therapy" dog offers "comfort" to an individual other than the handler, like at hospitals, senior centers, etc.

On the subject of "emotional support" dogs, there are no provisions for such via the DoJ, outside of not denying them access to public transportation and housing. They are not given the same permissions as an actual service/assistance dog.

It is incumbent on merchants to be aware of the law and how to protect themselves when they are faced with the potential for violation.

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