Service Animals, Emotional Support, and Guide Dogs7751836
Sadly, many people are asking whether "service animal" laws are being abused by those that want to scam the device.
There have been news stories, articles, opinion pieces and other editorials where people rant and complain about people they believe to be abusing the system. You hear some complain that they had to sit near your dog at a restaurant that they don't believe is a "real" service dog, or others complain their neighbors use a pet inside a "no pet" building because they claimed the pet is emotional support animal.
A few of the commentary has an indignant tone, and a few people are downright angry.
So how exactly does this affect those that legitimately own and employ a service animal to better their lives? In lots of ways.
For one, it can it harder to navigate bureaucracy around the globe when your claim of the disability along with your service or emotional support animal's status is questioned. If your landlord or business owner has heard negative stories claiming that many people are abusing the device, it can cause them to look suspiciously whatsoever claimants.
Some landlord and business owners have begun seeking proof of status, despite the fact that asking for written or other evidence might not be legal, and although many owners of legitimate service animals and emotional support animals have not taken advantage of registering them, and therefore have no such documentation to create.
It is the suspicious attitude and illegal demands of some landlords and companies that make registrations services just like the Service Animal Registry of California so vital to legitimate owners.
Although registration is optional, it can benefit shortcut the housing rental and business access issues if the owner can produce a simple document that will often satisfy the owner or landlord. Also, when working with public spaces, it is often easier to give a document using a simple sentence stating, "This can be a service animal" and letting the other party browse the information, rather than having a long-winded protracted conversation (or even worse, argument) in public, with onlookers listening in and gathering round the discussion.
So, perform some people scam the system, or game what the law states? Sadly, the answer then is "probably yes." In everyday life, there is always room for abuse and people can attempt to take advantage of many systems that we as a society put in place to protect the rights of those that need such protection. For instance, many drivers falsely display disabled parking placards to benefit from free and convenient parking. Not to mention the number of people who lie on the tax returns, claim improper tax deductions, abuse retail store return policies, or do other bad acts.
However that percentage of abuse, which in service animal laws is hopefully small, is arguably a very small investment when compared to the higher goal of promoting access and equality for many.
In the end, you can't control any system to make it 100% abuse proof. So tolerating the few people who scam service animal laws is the price we gladly pay to make sure that the disabled inside the great state of California have equal access under law.