Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Guide Dogs8344716
Sadly, many people are asking whether "service animal" laws are increasingly being abused by those who want to scam the machine.
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 they had to sit near your dog at a restaurant that they don't believe is really a "real" service dog, or others complain that the neighbors use a pet in a "no pet" building because they claimed the animal is emotional support animal registration.
Some of the commentary has an indignant tone, plus some people are downright angry.
How can this affect people who legitimately own and make use of a service animal to better their lives? In several ways.
For one, it can it harder to navigate bureaucracy on the planet when your claim of a disability and your service or emotional support animal's status is questioned. If a landlord or business proprietor has heard negative stories claiming that some individuals are abusing the device, it can cause them to look suspiciously in any way claimants.
Some landlord and business owners have begun requesting proof of status, even though asking for written or any other evidence might not be legal, and although many people who just love legitimate service animals and emotional support animals haven't taken advantage of registering them, and therefore have no such documentation to make.
It is the suspicious attitude and illegal demands of some landlords and business owners that make registrations services such as the Service Animal Registry of California so fundamental 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 fulfill the owner or landlord. Also, when using public spaces, it's easier to give over a document using a simple sentence stating, "This is a service animal" and letting one other party browse the information, as opposed to having a long-winded protracted conversation (or worse yet, argument) in public places, with onlookers listening in and gathering around the discussion.
So, do some people scam the system, or game what the law states? Sadly, the answer then is "probably yes." In life, there is always room for abuse and people can make an effort to take advantage of many systems that we as a society set up to protect the rights of people who need such protection. As an example, many drivers falsely display disabled parking placards to take advantage of free and convenient parking. Not to mention the number of people that lie on their tax returns, claim improper tax deductions, abuse retail store return policies, or do other bad acts.
However that percentage of abuse, which in the area of service animal laws is hopefully small, could well be a very small price to pay when compared to the higher purpose of promoting access and equality for all.
In the end, you cannot control any system to really make it 100% abuse proof. So tolerating the few individuals who scam service animal laws will be the price we gladly pay to ensure that the disabled within the great state of California have equal access under law.