Questions in regards to others' SDs

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.


Ice cubes? YES- PLEASE!
Barked: Tue Aug 13, '13 4:17pm PST 
For starters, I (the human) work at a restaurant as a host. As a result, I see most of our guests coming and going during my shift. Among them has been two SD teams. And it got me thinking, what kinds of bad behaviors from either the human or dog should cause me to report the team to a manager? What signs should I watch for to differentiate a real team from a faker?

Thankfully, both teams were highly courteous and polite toward us. I know in time, I will see more come through our doors and I do need to know how to handle any situations they might create should one occur. It doesn't help that my manager flat-out hates having dogs in his store and while he permits SDs, he is not happy about them touching his floors and furniture.

I know I can't just walk up and demand they tell me why they need a dog and show medical documentation. I believe that's kind of rude to do.

Not being in need of a SD, let alone having one, I really don't have much of an idea about etiquette outside what is expected of all pet dogs in general. I guess I want to know what constitutes good versus unacceptable behavior at a restaurant so I can single out the fakers/irresponsible owners. My hope is that in the end, the legitimate teams don't get stigmatized further from the behavior of a few boneheads faking SDs at my workplace.

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Tue Aug 13, '13 5:21pm PST 
There are two questions you can ask a handler with a service dog.

1) Is that a service dog required for your disability?

Obviously the answer should be yes for this one.

and 2) What tasks or work is he/she trained to perform.

He makes me feel better, or something that implies that the dogs sole purpose is comfort is not a service dog. Generally handlers are fairly good at being able to explain what their dog does without explaining their disability. Paper's, ID's, and even vest's aren't required, and none of the three actually mean the dog is legitimate and shouldn't be used by the handler to gain access. Sometimes a handler will have cards made up with a general statement about what their dog does though.

There are two reasons a legitimate service dog can be asked to leave a business.

1)If the service animal is out of control and the handler makes no move to control it.

2) If the service animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

I Highly recommend that you print out the ADA's business brief and bring it in to work with you. Perhaps recommend to your manager that all the staff under go a quick training on handling service animals. It would benefit not only the staff but any handlers that do happen to come in.

Brilliant,- Beautiful Boxer
Barked: Wed Aug 14, '13 6:31am PST 
Happy's comments were almost identical to what I was going to say. With the attitude of your manager, I highly recommend printing out the ADA rules.
You might consider contacting thanking the teams that have come in before and asking them if there is someone you could contact to help educate yourself and other staff better. This way, you are not intruding on them, but you are showing your willingness to learn.

Thank you for caring enough to educate yourself and others.


Barked: Wed Aug 14, '13 6:58pm PST 
Ditto what Happy and Zippo said.

However, where you run into trouble is where you have, for example, a "handler" feeding a "SD" from the plate. This does not pose a health or safety risk to anybody else, but is 100% inappropriate.

I've seen handlers with their SDs on flexi-leashes taking up 8 feet of a very busy (big city) 10-foot sidewalk. Clearly wrong, but not illegal. In a restaurant I've seen handlers with their "SDs" lounging in the middle of an aisle. Clearly wrong, but not illegal.

You could argue that this behavior poses a threat to those around them (although in reality it's more of an annoyance), but no business owner in their right mind would want to defend in court the decision to kick out these teams. Because most business owners are very skittish about kicking out SD teams, inappropriate SD behavior abounds.

Unfortunately, the owners who let their "SDs" act this way are also the ones who raise a huge big stink when you ask them to stop the inappropriate behavior.

Which puts business owners and the public in a Catch-22: Do I ask them to stop this inappropriate behavior and risk getting sued (and losing, because the inappropriate behavior technically wasn't a threat to anyone), or do I just allow the inappropriate behavior?

These are the unfortunate consequences of this country's super lax SD laws combined with some folks who just want to take Fluffy everywhere, or even those who *think* their dog is up to SD snuff when it's clearly not.

So aside from the black-and-white mentioned above, there's a huge gray area, and it's good to be aware of that too.

Ice cubes? YES- PLEASE!
Barked: Thu Aug 15, '13 10:00am PST 
Thank you for the responses! I have a much better idea about how to handle SD teams, both real and fake. I was going to print out the ADA document, but alas, my printer hates me. frownfrown

Still, I hope I never have to see what constitutes rude or illegal behavior from a SD team (or "team")

Brilliant,- Beautiful Boxer
Barked: Thu Aug 15, '13 10:17am PST 
Another way to educate yourself further is to look for service dog support groups and contact them to see if anyone would be willing to share with you. Most are eager to help educate people. Trainers in your area would also be a good resource for education.
Crazy Sadie- Lady

Im a SD and- proud of it so- there!!!!
Barked: Fri Aug 16, '13 8:02am PST 
FOR THE MOST PART: I would say Greatings to you Clyde so nice to meet you even though you are not a SD handler. My sadie is half mastiff but she is not a huge dog. my family is still new at having a SD in their family. I really have not taken my dog in to many food place a couple for the most part to number them. So guess your boss is probably happy to hear that. I just don't take sadie out with me when I am with my family. On my own I think I would if I was on foot. Since I have done so there. I have been a SD handler I have taken my dog for a long time now 5 years to be exact.
I don't have much contact with many other SDs Probably cause I am in a small town.