Augusta, GA (WJBF) – More than a dozen states, including Georgia are cracking down on fake service dogs. NewsChannel 6 spent time with some veterans who use legitimate service dogs, shows us why they say the problem of fake service dogs is out of control.
Service animal trainers are fed up with the soaring number of scams for fake service animals, and they want the government to crack down on the trend.
“It hurts us, having a fake service dog hurts those with real ones,” said Thomas Greg, of Veterans K9 Solutions.
“Service dogs in a whole are growing, the numbers are growing for the better because they’re helping veterans and citizens who needs these dogs, but the fake ones are growing just as fast,” said Matt Hammond, Owner of Quality K9 Concepts.
“And they’ll say here fill out this information and we’ll send you a certificate a patch a vest and an ID and none of that is legit,” said Joe Shaia, of Veterans K9 Solutions.
Trainers say it’s so easy to get a fake service dog registration … that it discredits all of the hard work they put into training REAL service dogs.
“When I see fake service dogs it makes me really upset because of all the training that goes into making a real service dog and those dogs are there as medical equipment,” said Rebecca Santana, of Veteran/Trainer Quality K9 Concepts.Matt Hammond – Owner of Quality K9 Concepts
“For the amount of time that we spend on these dogs it is frustrating to know that a neighbor down the street can take their poodle and put a vest on it and get a certificate card,” said Matt Hammond, Owner of Quality K9 Concepts.
One of the veterans, who is now a trainer, says it took him 3 years to come out of his home before having his service animal to help him get through anxiety. But he says there was a time when police believed his dog wasn’t a real service dog, because of all the fake service dogs out there.
“I’ve encountered local law enforcement, from multiple areas they have pulled me aside because they said that my dog wasn’t a service dog and when I explained to them that they were they still pressed the matter,” said Joe Shaia, of Veterans K9 Solutions.
“You can be fined for refusing service to a service animal in the state of Georgia so you have to be careful and you need to educate yourself,” said Thomas Greg, of Veterans K9 Solutions.
This is important to note: Business owners must be careful when refusing service to someone who has a service animal. In Georgia, you can be fined up to $3,000 dollars for denying service. It’s important to do your research when cracking down on these fake service animals so you won’t be held legally accountable.