As someone who has raised service animals and comes from a family who raises them as well, I just need to say something: This is not in the slightest bit funny, clever, or okay.
For starters, pretending to be blind or visually impaired is extremely disrespectful, and doing so in order to bend rules is even more so.
Those are are visually impaired don’t get to bring just any animal with them wherever they want. Service dogs—whether for the blind or for persons with other disabilities—are extremely well trained, and go through an extensive schooling and vetting process to ensure that they are the best candidates to become service animals. Guide school is so rigorous that the attrition rate for a class is somewhere around 50%. Service dogs are amazingly well behaved and trained, and that, in conjunction with the assistance they provide their handlers, is why they are allowed to go places where your average Fido cannot. When you pull a stunt like this and your animal misbehaves or acts out, that tarnishes the reputation of service animals, and only reinforces to some that service animals are not legitimate and should not be welcomed with their handlers in places of business, in public, etc.
If a dog does not meet the requirement to be a service animal, as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but a person represents their animal as one, they are in violation of a FEDERAL law and are subject to a heavy fine and/or imprisonment.
TL;DR: Pets are not service dogs, and if you lie about it and pull shit like this, I will fucking hunt you down and beat you with a phone book.
I cannot agree with the above commentary more.
My family raises service animals for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and family pets in public places pose a serious threat to our service animals, in training or otherwise. The number one reason for career changes in GDB are dog attacks. That is the general public bringing their pets out to places those dogs don’t belong.
And here is just one example of how pulling stunts like the one above actually inconvenience actual disabled persons, and how crap like that above destroys trust in service animals. This family (who actually has one of our former puppies who was career changed to Early Alert Canines), who had all of their identification and proof of having an actual service animal have been denied or given a hard time several times, and all managers who eventually come around mention that they’ve run into problems with people bringing animals before. We’ve actually had a puppy in training that was attacked by regular dogs out in public, and what if that was a visually impaired person?
That being said, and the above commentary summing up the legality (or lack thereof) of doing something like this beautifully, I’m going to emphasize something:
Disabilities are not a costume. Are not a disguise. They are not something to pretend to have to get special treatment.To disabled persons, having a service animal isn’t special treatment, or getting to use the elevator isn’t special treatment, or boarding the plane first isn’t special treatment. It’s a fucking necessity. And as much as disabled persons love their service animals, they would give anything not to need them.And then perfectly abled people pretend to be disabled to bring their household pets out in public and make their already difficult lives even more difficult?
This is almost on the same level as black-face. To do this, you are trivializing a real disability for essentially your own enjoyment, and that is disgustingly disrespectful. It is ignorant, disgusting, shitty behaviour.
To add to this, a visually impaired person wouldn’t have a cane and a dog, and the dog wouldn’t be on a flexi-leash either. The dog would be on a harness.
TO ANY OF MY FOLLOWERS WHO MIGHT BE IN A POSITION TO HAVE TO ASK TO SEE CERTIFICATION: You are allowed to ask for proof of certification. If they cannot produce proof of certification, you are allowed to ask them to leave. Anyone with a certified service animal, in training or otherwise, will always have proof of certification on their person.
IF YOU SEE SOMEONE WITH A “SERVICE ANIMAL” AND THAT ANIMAL IS NOT BEHAVING: You can talk to the manager and ask that they deal with the problem. We’ve done that before, and it works pretty nicely. It also educates the people who run establishments on the laws they may have felt a bit trapped by (one manager, whom we reported a fake service animal to, was not aware that she was allowed to ask for certification and had been grinning and bearing the unruly dog that was constantly brought into her store).
Here is an educational post about fake service dogs and how to spot them, and also how they ruin things for disabled peoples, written by the same woman who wrote the Yelp review I linked to further up. Her entire blog is a great insight to how important service animals are for the disabled community, and why it’s really important that the trust is not broken between establishment owners and service animals. It also gives you extra incentive not to disrespect or trivialize what these people go through on a daily basis just so you can bring your fucking dog to an airport.
In short: If you have the urge to do what that man did in the above picture, I want you to lift your hand and slap yourself across the face. It’s not cute, it’s definitely not smart, and it’s in all honesty cruelly ignorant. Seeing your pet, no matter how long you haven’t seen them for, can wait the 15-30 minute drive home from the airport. You don’t need to bring them to Home Depot or the mall. Please leave your untrained pet at home, and especially don’t dress up as a disabled person.