Text Transcript – Service Dog Dependents Threatened by Imposters Video

They used to be called guide dogs, but they’re correctly known as service animals. Not just dogs and not just for the blind, people with many different disabilities can use them. But as Carter Evans reports tonight, there are abuses.

From the time they’re puppies, service dogs are rigorously trained to help those who need them most to get into places where no pets are allowed. The dogs are identified by the vests they wear. But since it’s not illegal to buy these vests it’s easy for imposters to go online. There we are, My choices are endless. Susan Lee Vic is national director of Canine Companions for Independence.

This is Bambi. Bambi’s new service dog vest.

This one has a seal saying the Department of Justice.

There was never any vision of this outcome. This just sort of explosion of how the best wherever asked go anywhere you want with your pet. No one saw that.

I always thought that service dogs, were somebody with a really, really, really profound disability.

But your disability just isn’t that obvious? Correct.

Peter Morgan has a spinal disorder. I dropped the keys and he will get them. It is nearly impossible for him to bend and pick up. He teaches kids with special needs, Chuka constantly at the ready. Peter says no one has ever doubted his need for a service dog, until recently. The last two years it’s become very prevalent. The questioning, the looks. It’s been a radical shift. I think is a huge shift. Now wherever he goes, restaurants, movie cinemas, he sees fit. At a recent dinner out. There was another dog, even by the casual observer, you could tell it was not a service dog.

But did it have a vest? It had a vest.

It was eaten off the floor, licking people, lunging at people. Then he says the dog’s owner pulled him aside and said, it’s really neat that we can bring these dogs in here and get away with it.  Because you know my dog’s not a service dog and neither is yours. I just turned and I said you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.

There’s a growing call to penalize people who try and pass off pets as service dogs, but few agree on how it should be enforced. Advocates for the disabled say the biggest problem, may just be ignorance.

Bringing your pet dog out into a public place harms that persons with disabilities right to live a free and independent life. So, they should stop it.

Peter Morgan says he’s been kicked out of restaurants when other dogs act up.

So, do people think you’re an imposter? Yeah, it kind of felt like that.

People that are actually doing this, should really take a long deep breath and think about how they’re affecting less able people than themselves. Then he says would provide the most valuable service.

Carter Evans
CBS News