On this trip, Liesl and I have seen evidence that service dog fraud is on the rise.
Example one. On the Alaska Marine Highway, all pets have to stay in their owners’ vehicles on the car deck. Throughout the day (and night) the purser announces car deck calls when pet owners can go down and visit their animals. It’s hard on the animals, and not easy for the owners, either.
The only animals allowed in the passenger areas are service animals.
One woman on the ferry regularly had her dog with her, with no vest identifying it as a service dog, and its behavior with other dogs on the car deck (where the dogs relieve themselves) was certainly not that of a trained service dog.
Uh huh. Fraud, we figured.
Example two. At the Holiday Inn Express in Corvallis, Oregon, I overheard a conversation in the lobby.
A man checking in asked, “Do you charge for dogs?”
When the answer was “Yes,” he said, “What if they’re service dogs?”
The front desk clerk asked if he had verification that they were service dogs.
And the man said, “Well, I’m a veterinarian. Does that count?”
I have no idea if he had to pay for them, but later I saw him with the two dogs and his wife, sitting outside on the back deck, enjoying breakfast. Neither of the two border collies wore anything identifying them as service dogs.
The service dog legislation was written with flexibility in mind, so that people with disabilities wouldn’t have to constantly fight for their right to be accompanied by service dogs. But unscrupulous people take advantage of that flexibility, and it’s just not right.