Assistance dogs are specially trained to perform tasks that directly mitigate a person’s disability and to behave while in public.

  • Pet dogs don’t have this training and may act unsuitably in a public setting.

  • Pet dogs can be stressed by being out in crowded places or might not be good with other dogs.

  • They may interfere directly with a working assistance dog by distracting or threatening it.

  • Pet dogs can also interfere indirectly by behaving inappropriately, like having accidents, barking, eating food or disturbing other customers.

  • Additionally, impersonating someone with a disability to obtain benefits is a crime and it is punishable in many states by fines or jail time.

  • If a friend, family member or stranger asks you how to bring their pet dog into a public setting, how do you respond?

  • Education is the key to reducing the number of pet dogs masquerading as assistance dogs.

  • Explain how bringing a pet into public is detrimental to the lives of people with disabilities who rely on highly skilled assistance dogs to enhance their independence.

  • Explain how an assistance dog is trained to help its handler who has a disability.

  • You might also clarify that posing a pet as a service dog is against federal law.

  • Florida Statute 413.08.  This statute was amended in 2020 to include a criminal penalty for persons who fraudulently claim the need for a service animal.

  • Please visit canine.org