Posing furry friends as service animals

Posing furry friends as service animals

CREATED Jul 26, 2012

Reporter: Corinne Hautala

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – How easy is it to pose your furry friend as a service animal?  9OYS went to Pima County to find out and learned, in Arizona, If your dog has a good temperament  then it might be easier than you think.

A 9OYS viewer wanted us to look into the requirements for service animals.  Natalie Sabin said she’s seen, at her local grocery store, people she believes are taking advantage of the system.

“You can tell they're not service dogs,” she explained. “They're dirty.  They're stinky.  They're in the cart where I put my groceries too.”
Sabin also described the dogs as not having any sort of tags or labeling to distinguish them as service animals.

9OYS took Sabin’s concern to Pima County and spoke with the County’s Americans Disability Act Coordinator.  

“There is no registration for service animals,” Mike Tully explained.

Tully detailed what defines a service animal, however, he explained there is no way to validate that an animal can perform those services.  

9OYS asked Tully if the ADA department is concerned relying solely on a handler’s word and if there is concern people are taking advantage of the system.

“It’s not come up here.  So it’s not been a problem,” answered Tully.  “As far as more guidelines more procedures more rules, I'm not sure that we need those.”

Sabin said although she supports service dogs and believes most don’t take advantage of the guidelines, she’d like to see a change in the system.

“It would be nice if there was some kind of legitimate training and certification,” stated Sabin, “A card that was held the same as you have a license plate.”

If a service animal does cause a problem a public area ADA rules allow for the animal to be removed from the area, but the needs of the handler still need to be accommodated.