Recently, many people have had justified concerns over the rise of fake online certificates, vests, and tags for their emotional support animal, service animal or therapy animal. Law officials have recently begun to crack down on these online companies that try to pretend to have a real database and sell people overpriced products such as vests, certificates, leashes, collars, etc. Keep in mind that these are the kinds of products that anyone can instead go to Amazon and buy at a much cheaper cost.
One service dog handler had their say, “To see someone who threw a cheap vest on their dog’s back because they like to have it around is like kicking me in my dislocated knee,” courtesy of Huffington Post.
What Does The Law Say?
In the past, no one would question the authenticity and legitimacy of a service animal owner. Unfortunately, some savvy fake online companies recently decided to leverage this trust by claiming to be real, selling kits and certificates.
Well, the law has been lenient up until recently due to many reports of pet owners being caught trying to pass their pet as an authentic service animal by justifying that online companies sold them the equipment and that their pet is on the website’s “national service animal database”. These fake service online kit, vests, and certificate sellers undermine the legitimacy of the concept of having real equipment for real service animals specifically. CBS News reported that the perpetrator can get charged up to $1000 and possibly be imprisoned for six months by buying from these online kit sellers and then trying to pass their ordinary pet as a real service animal.
An NBC news article on this topic said that “There is a big difference in the behavior of real service dogs and impostors inside businesses, experts said. A true service dog becomes nearly invisible. Pets might bark, urinate, sniff, scratch and eat off the floor”.
This goes hand-in-hand with dog owners who try to leverage these online services by buying from an online kit seller some service animal equipment and then trying to pass their untrained dog as a service dog by making it look like a real service dog. According to Dog bite law, “The law of certain jurisdictions makes it a crime to pretend to own or train a guide, signal or service dog”.
Emotional Support Animals, on the other hand, do not need vests or anything to perform emotionally comfort their owners. Getting ESA equipment is therefore not necessary, but the ESA must be accommodated with an official prescription letter from a licensed medical professional indicating that the owner needs the ESA (i.e., for PTSD, depression, anxiety, coping after a major life event).
Lastly, a therapy animal is NOT considered service or emotional support dog and have absolutely no protections under the ADA laws. Therapy animals are usually called therapy dogs and they are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, and to people with learning difficulties and stressful situations such as disaster areas.
How Do I Play It Fair Not Fake?
Service animals are very expensive and are given more privileges than ESAs and therapy animals. In terms of service animals, it is best to purchase them for what they’re actually worth which is from $10,000 to $20,000.
With ADA and HUD laws, any loving pet can become an ESA, but one must receive an Emotional Support Animal prescription letter from a licensed medical professional (preferably from a licensed psychologist) to show to the airlines or landlords. In addition, you may be eligible for an ESA prescription letter from EPS by taking their assessment as long as you have a qualifying emotional or psychological disorder such as:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
And Much More…
Fake emotional support animal vest
Final Words Of Advice
All in all, it will be best to be diligent and fully be aware of the differences between the three kinds of animals. Most importantly, it is crucial to truly consider the consequences when thinking about going the cheaper way of getting equipment from questionable online kit-selling companies, especially if it pertains to service dogs. With all of the risks associated with faking a pet to be a service dog, one must ask oneself if it really is worth attempting to cheat the system. Not only to not get slammed by the law, but to also not ruin it for those with real disabilities and real service dogs, “Those with disabilities are worried about privacy and the safety of their highly trained service dogs, while business owners are concerned about health violations and damage to merchandise from impostors abusing the system”.
Don’t fall for the online service dog vests and other kits. Be mindful, know the laws, and if you’re looking for a legitimate way to get your dog to live with you in an apartment or fly with you, get an ESA letter! An ESA may not have as many laws protecting it as a real service animal, but if you have a mental disability, impairing stress, or anxiety, do consider getting a pet and an ESA letter if you need your ESA with you. An Emotional Support Animal letter written from a real, licensed medical professional is much more important than a vest.