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Creating barriers with fake service dogs

In a world of chaos, it’s no accident of fate that this humble blogger like to keep her writing all sunshine and rainbows, with the occasional unicorn reference. However, I didn’t actually mean to just write about myself in the third person in that first sentence. How geeky is that, anyway?

But in some amazing twist of fate, I was asked to be a guest blogger on Beth Finke’s Safe & Sound blog.  I went all spouting off in a comment on one of her posts about how fake service dogs are creating barriers for those who truly use dogs as a means for independence. Yeah, that’s right. I can get passionate about a topic. And this particular one gets my hackles up, so to speak.

So I went outside my comfort zone and wrote up something that didn’t make me laugh at my own lame jokes.

I got serious, y’all.

I am flattered to have been invited to share my thoughts on Beth Finke’s prestigious blog. She’s pretty much a big deal and all.  Beth’s About page tells us:

NPR commentator Beth Finke is an award-winning author, teacher and journalist. She also happens to be blind.  Beth’s memoir, Long Time, No See was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s favorite non-fiction books for 2003 and made the Book Sense 76 Top Ten list of university press books. Her children’s book about Seeing Eye dogs — Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound– was published by Blue Marlin Publications in October, 2007 and won an ASPCA Henry Bergh Childrens Book Award in 2008.

But you know what else is uber cool about this guest writing gig? It’s generating some conversation. Comments are coming in from polarized viewpoints. You don’t see this stuff with sunshine and rainbow posts.

Honestly, I don’t know how Beth does it. I don’t have the stamina to think that deeply for very long. To agree or disagree and stand by my choices, post after post. She’s pretty darn amazing and I’m honored to now have this connection with her world.

Do check out my ponderous pontification and profundity at And now, a word from a puppy raiser.  It’s not a very long post, my brain was ready to leak before I was done. But absolutely read the comments to get an idea of the passion folk have about the topic of fake and under-trained service dogs.

If so moved, drop a comment yourself.  Beth reads every response, I promise you that.

About Donna Black-Sword

Lover of all things Dog.

4 responses »

  1. I read your post and it is so true! Just the other day in the mall I was walking with my CCI pup in training, and my moms service dog.. and this lady holding a Chihuahua walked up to me and asked me where she could buy the vest my pup was wearing. I had to tell her that these were from our company and you can't just get them. She then proceeded to tell me it was because her dog was a “service dog” and that she doesn't want to have to keep explaining it. I then had to tell her again that you can't just buy our vests. She then walked away.


  2. It's frustrating, isn't it? Thanks for sharing your story.
    So was this a service dog or instead an emotional support dog? I've heard examples of folk saying that having a dog in their purse keeps them from having panic attacks. Which could be true, I guess. Or not true, but without businesses challenging the individual this leaves it open to abuse of the law.
    A person with a disability should not be in a position to defend their need for an assistance dog. Great strides have been made in legal rights and public acceptance. I get frustrated with the folk out there that are moving the whole thing two steps backward.


  3. This was her “emotional support dog”. She seemed as if she was from a different country and had moved here is my guess. I am in constant answering of the question about the vest and where to get it because Halo goes to school with me. I also get people saying “I'm going to get a vest for my dog and bring it to school” which frustrates me and then I go into telling them about how that ruins it for the people who actually need the dog and could prevent me from being about to take my pup out into public places for her training. I get so heated about the subject.. especially since my mom has a dog from CCI and needs her in her everyday life, and people just think they should be able to bring it out in public. Have you seen the advertising from Skymall about them selling service dog vest packages? SO TERRIBLE.


  4. I've heard about the Skymall ad, but haven't seen it. I'll do a google search to check it out. Some local puppy raisers mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and were upset by the how easy they were making it for people to claim their pets as assistance dogs.



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