Pets Being Passed Off As Service Animals A Growing Problem In Oklahoma

<p>A Pryor woman says a pit bull, passed off as service animal, was aggressive toward her inside a local store; but a law prevented anyone from questioning the owner.</p>

Tuesday, July 29th 2014, 7:53 pm

By: News On 6

A Pryor woman says a pit bull, passed off as service animal, was aggressive toward her inside a local store; but a law designed to protect people with disabilities prevented both the woman and the store’s staff from questioning the owner.

Like most stores KLA Mart does not allow pets, but the problem in this case is many people are passing off their pets as disability service animals. It’s a problem that's becoming more prevalent and it’s hard to regulate.

"The gentleman did not have very good control on the dog. I stayed ten feet back but the dog lunged, growled, barked. And he had to struggle to get him under control," said Pryor resident, Shryle Glancy.

Glancy's run-in with the aggressive dog happened in a check-out line at Pryor home store. The sign outside the store clearly says no pets, but service animals are always an exception.

Havonnah: “Do you think it was a service animal?”
Glancy: “No I don't. It was a pit bull.”

The breed doesn't matter as much, but the animal's temperament does.

Mary Green with K9 Manners and More said service animals go through intense training, which can last up to two years.

“The dog is required to have training to mitigate the symptoms of that person's disability,” Green said.

Trained dogs help people deal with deafness, post-traumatic stress disorder and even diabetes or anxiety. Green said fake service dogs are being seen more in public places.

“Unfortunately people are going online and getting these service dog verifications. First of all, there is no national certification or registry so dogs are neither certified nor registered,” Green said.

That means, it’s up to the handler, dog owner or person with the disability to keep the animal calm in public, but Glancy said the real issue isn't disability, its dishonesty.

"My issue is people are passing their dogs off as service animals for emotional support animals, taking them places there is no obedience training," she said.

The folks who run the market said it’s a no win situation for them because they can't question a person with a pet or a service animal because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but pet owners can buy liability insurance.


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