Service dog scam hurts people with disabilities

11 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago June 07, 2016 Jun 7, 2016 Tuesday, June 07 2016 Tuesday, June 07, 2016 6:14:00 PM CDT in News
By: Lauren Barnas, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Online companies are offering quick certification for both emotional support and service animals. However, neither type of assistance animal requires certification by the government or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Dr. Terriann Tucker-Warhover is a veterinarian and the director of Puppies with Purpose. The organization trains and places service dogs with people with disabilities. Tucker-Warhover says there are two types of people paying for fake vests, leashes, and certificates. She said some people try to fool restaurants, hotels, and landlords with phony products.

“It’s tough for business owners, for individuals, to really know – is that a service dog that has been taught a specific skill and meets the needs of an individual, is it an emotional support dog?” Tucker-Warhover said. “Or is it a dog that it’s a fake service dog? And that is actually tragic.”

Service animals have special public privileges and are usually allowed in restaurants, hotels, and other places that are otherwise off-limits for pets.

Julie Brinkhoff is the assistant director at the ADA office in Columbia. She has experienced the other side of it. She said sometimes the fake certificates also fool people with real disabilities and service dogs who think they need proof to have their animal in public. Unfortunately, many of these people live on a fixed income and waste money they can’t afford to lose.

In order to protect people with disabilities, the ADA trains employees to comply with its standards.

“The establishment can ask two questions. Those two questions are: is this a service animal, and what task has this animal been trained to do?” Brinkhoff said.

The questions are designed to protect the disabled, but make it easy to fool a business. Establishments aren’t allowed to ask for proof of a disability or proof that the animal is trained to help them.

“The reason for this, I believe, is so that people with disabilities could come in and out of places easily, without a lot of attention or delay,” Brinkhoff said.

This makes it easy to pass an animal off as something it’s not.

“Many of those dogs aren’t trained properly and they may misbehave, they may have aggressive tendencies,” Tucker-Warhover said. “Many people will see that and go ‘oh wow, service dogs, they’re not, you know, they’re not anything special.' And so it gives the service dogs a bad name.”

Emotional support animals are a different kind of assistance animal. However, they do not have special public privileges.

“Emotional support animals are covered under the Fair Housing Act,” Brinkhoff said. “This is housing only. The ADA only covers service dogs. 

Both women said they are working to make the guidelines for assistance animals clearer.

“They probably need to tweak the laws a little and maybe have some kind of certification, testing, or something so at least you know the dogs have basic obedience,” Tucker-Warhover said.

For now, businesses are left to trust their customers and the ADA guidelines.

 

 

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY – According to updated Missouri State Highway Patrol crash reports , four people died in fatal car crashes... More >>
47 minutes ago May 30, 2017 May 30, 2017 Tuesday, May 30 2017 Tuesday, May 30, 2017 1:30:00 AM CDT in News
NEW BLOOMFIELD – New Life Evangelical Center hosted a fair that spreads awareness about renewable energy and its connection to... More >>
6 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 7:40:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A fire at a 12-unit apartment complex injured one person and forced upstairs residents to climb down... More >>
7 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 6:51:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Hundreds celebrated the historic aspect of Memorial Day at the Columbia Cemetery Monday. Attendees traveled from grave... More >>
8 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 5:19:00 PM CDT in News
RAYTOWN (AP) — A Jackson County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a suspected shoplifter at a Wal-Mart in a Kansas... More >>
9 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 5:16:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found near a... More >>
10 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 4:16:52 PM CDT in News
AUXVASSE - A horse trainer is taking her skills as a behavior analyst and applying them to horses. This fundamental... More >>
11 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 2:54:00 PM CDT in News
PORTAGEVILLE (AP) — A new clue has emerged in the killings of a southeast Missouri woman and her daughter nearly... More >>
12 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 2:01:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Many Americans spend Memorial Day taking time to honor those who have served and fallen for this country.... More >>
12 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 1:47:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia hosted the biggest Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Parade in the event's 29 years of history. ... More >>
13 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 12:57:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Police Department is joining forces with the You Have Options Program to counter sexual assault. The... More >>
18 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 7:26:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of about 80 inmates serving life sentences in... More >>
19 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 6:55:41 AM CDT in News
SEDALIA (AP) — A central Missouri man has been ordered to spend 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to... More >>
20 hours ago May 29, 2017 May 29, 2017 Monday, May 29 2017 Monday, May 29, 2017 6:12:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – The MU Veterinary Health Center recently added a new section - the Motion Analysis Laboratory - to track... More >>
1 day ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 9:46:00 PM CDT in News
MORGAN COUNTY - The National Weather Service (NWS) from Springfield, Missouri has conducted a review of damage in extreme southeastern... More >>
1 day ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 6:09:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – Volunteer security guards and local police officers are making sure the 29 th Annual Salute to Veterans Air... More >>
1 day ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:43:00 PM CDT in News
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have recovered two bodies and are searching for a third person after their vehicle was... More >>
1 day ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:38:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Relatives of two of four people killed when a steam-filled tank weighing nearly 2,000 pounds (900... More >>
1 day ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:33:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 61°
3am 56°
4am 55°
5am 54°
6am 54°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:07a
Today
3:00a
Mad Money
4:00a
Early Today
2:00a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program
3:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
America's Got Talent
9:00p
World of Dance
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
iZombie
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld