British Columbia is taking a stand against those who would commit service dog fraud in what is thought to be among one of the first laws in Canada tackling the issue.
The Provence’s “Guide Dog And Service Dog Act” is a newly revised law on the subject of service animal impersonation, and is set to take effect later this year. While there is no way to document the number of fraudulent service animals, experts and service dog trainers say that the problem is continuing to escalate.
The law proposes issuing identity cards similar to a driver’s license. ID’s are available to dogs trained by schools accredited under the leading global regulatory bodies — the International Guide Dog Federation or Assistance Dogs International — and will automatically receive a provincial ID. Those who wish to take on the training themselves will need to have their dogs pass a provincial test to ensure their performance and behavior are in line with international standards. (source: CBC)
Why is this law needed? Part of the problem lies in the fact that anyone, anywhere can buy a vest like this on the Internet. It states their dog is a service dog, and often even comes with a wallet ID card, which results in many dogs and owners who are improperly trained taking advantage of things normally reserved for those with disabilities. More everyday pet owners have equipped their dogs with unlicensed “service dog” capes and fraudulent identification. Businesses are very often afraid to intervene, and end up being taken advantage of. Some motives for buying the fake vests? People stated they were reluctant to leave their dogs, wanting to collect discounts from vets or stores, and some even wanted free airfare for the pet.
Laura Watamanuk, Executive Director of the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society, says public perceptions of service animals are often limited to guide dogs donning conspicuous harnesses to lead their visually impaired handlers. This is where the new law becomes valuable.
If you wish to learn more about the law you can see the legislation here.