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More people are faking their pet dog for a service animal, veteran says

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) -- - Many people who use a service dog say it's been harder lately to have one in public places. Now several states are tightening the leash on the people who pose their pet dog as a service animals.

All it takes is a quick search on the internet and in minutes anyone can buy a service vest for their dog.
"That is a big, serious problem, especially for the people that are in need. it's actually unfortunate because they are the one leading to all these issues with all these other establishments," said Jay Adams, who trains police and service dogs.

It's something Jay Adams says he's sees far too often -- a person in a store with their dog that's not a service animal. Adams says people can even pay about $100 bucks for false service dog paperwork online.
"It's a true shame because I have clients that seriously are in need of these dogs, whether it's epileptic, or autism or PTSD," said Adams.
"He's watching out for me, like he's doing right now he sees someone over there so he's looking at them making sure everything's cool and that's his job, that's what he does," said Brandon Ruzbacki, a U.S. Army veteran who suffers from PTSD.

State lawmakers want to tighten the leach on imposters. A proposed bill in the State Senate would punish anyone caught faking their service dog. They'd have to perform community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities and/or pay a $500 fine.
"Don't bring your house pet to Home Depot or K-mart or anywhere else. You're making it very hard for people like me and other people who have service dogs. You're really giving us a bad name," said Ruzbacki.

Some service dogs can require up to a year of training with a certified specialist. They aren't required to wear a service vest or patch. But Brandon Ruzbacki says there are other ways to spot a fake -- by it's behavior in public.
"When people bring in Spot, or Fluffy or whatever and claim it's a service dog and the dog is choking on it's leash and nipping at people or barking. service dogs don't do that," said Ruzbacki.

Many airlines are also cracking down on those who try to abuse their service dog policy.

About 12 states, including Colorado, Maine and Michigan, have signed laws making it illegal for people to misrepresent their dog as a service animal. Under those laws, offenders can face fines up to $250 dollars in some states.


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