So much of the information that we are fed on the internet is determined by the algorithms of the search engine that is being used. While I hope that those algorithms direct business owners to my web site when they are looking for good solid information about how to accept service dogs without discrimination, I am very cautious about what information is being delivered with that information. While reading a news story about an incident surrounding a service dog being yelled at by a patron of a grocery store, I noticed that the banner ad that was running along the bottom of the story was for a company that could get your dog certified as a service dog in less than an hour for a fee. No test, no training and no disability needed. "Take your dog everywhere with you in public" or "fly with your dog in the airplane cabin for free." statement scream from the page. This is wrong on every level imaginable.
The disabled person who has struggled for years to be able to be independent of other human assistance by obtaining a service dog, either training the right dog for a year on their own or paying upwards of $30,000 dollars to acquire a partner from a trainer or agency specific to their disability. They then spend another year while becoming accustom to the animal and the animal becoming dependable and trustworthy to the handler. During the lifetime of the dog it is maintained with the best of food and care. The animal is continually trained and rewarded for its dedication to its handler. The process is not 100% successful and it takes years to get it right. The handler must learn what his or her responsibility is when taking an animal in public. The animal has an accident, the handler cleans it up and quickly. The dog shows any aggression towards anyone or anything the handler knows that the animal must be removed immediately. If there is any disruption to an event or business the handler is mortified, apologetic, and takes measures to correct the interruption.
When a handler is approached by someone that is questioning the validity of their years of work and thousands of dollars invested in the service dog at their side it can be tiresome, but they will respond to the questions that the ADA allows to be asked of them without any hesitation, they know the drill. If the questions,"is that a service dog?" and "what task does it perform?" are met with indignation, anger and no real answer to the questions then you can almost be sure that the animal received the service animal tags, vest or leash from those wonderful algorithms banner ad attachments that match single words used and not the meaning of the content being communicated.