Recently, the need for “psychiatric” service dogs (as opposed to service dogs that help people with a physical ailment) has skyrocketed. Service dogs are being recommended to everyone from PTSD to anxiety to Autism. The problem is that the service dog industry is not regulated. There is no certification program in any state. The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act does not require that a service dog does not need to be professionally trained or certified. This has led to many “fake” service dogs being sold to families with loved ones that have disabilities – which is fraud.
There have been several lawsuits between companies as recipients of dogs who often found that their service dogs to be nothing more than every expensive pets and are not capable of helping in a life-threatening situation.
According to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, in order for a service animal to be properly trained, it must undergo at least 120 hours of training and obey basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and heel. All of this in conjunction with not being aggressive towards other people or animals.
In one extreme case, after a service dog was taken away from a child with PTSD and anxiety for not being properly trained, the child ended up committing suicide.
These businesses that sell “trained” service dogs are misrepresenting their business and there should be consumer protection laws in place. Pets and dogs bring so much joy into people’s lives, it’s a shame that people are being scammed out of money.