Service Animals, Emotional Support, and Guide Dogs1211972
Sadly, some individuals are asking whether "service animal" laws are increasingly being abused by people who want to scam the device.
There have been news stories, articles, opinion pieces and other editorials where people rant and complain about people they believe to be abusing the machine. You hear some complain they had to sit near your dog at a restaurant which they don't believe is really a "real" service dog, or others complain their neighbors use a pet in the "no pet" building simply because they claimed the pet is emotional support animal registration.
A number of the commentary has an indignant tone, plus some people are downright angry.
How does this affect those that legitimately own and make use of a service animal to better their lives? In several ways.
For one, it can it more difficult to navigate bureaucracy on the planet when your claim of a disability and your service or emotional support animal's status is questioned. If your landlord or business owner has heard negative stories claiming that some individuals are abusing the machine, it can cause these to look suspiciously in any way claimants.
Some landlord and business owners have begun seeking proof of status, although asking for written or another evidence isn't necessarily legal, and even though many those who own legitimate service animals and emotional support animals never have taken advantage of registering them, and so have no such documentation to make.
It is the suspicious attitude and illegal demands of some landlords and business people that make registrations services such as the Service Animal Registry of California so fundamental to legitimate owners.
Although registration is optional, it will also help shortcut the housing rental and business access issues if the owner can create a simple document that may often satisfy the owner or landlord. Also, when utilizing public spaces, it is usually easier to hand over a document using a simple sentence stating, "This is a service animal" and letting the other party browse the information, instead of having a long-winded protracted conversation (or worse, argument) in public, with onlookers listening in and gathering across the discussion.
So, perform some people scam the device, or game the law? Sadly, the answer then is "probably yes." In life, there is always room for abuse and people can attempt to take advantage of many systems that we as a society put in place to protect the rights of those who need such protection. For example, many drivers falsely display disabled parking placards to benefit from free and convenient parking. Not to mention the number of folks who lie on their tax returns, claim improper tax deductions, abuse shop return policies, or do other bad acts.
However that percentage of abuse, which in service animal laws is hopefully small, is arguably a very small price to pay when compared to the higher purpose of promoting access and equality for all.
In the end, you can not control any system to make it 100% abuse proof. So tolerating the few people who scam service animal laws will be the price we gladly pay to ensure that the disabled inside the great state of California have equal access under law.