guide dogs

Blind man reveals struggle using service dog due to 'fake' ones

There are people that rely on service dogs for their everyday functioning. In the past they were mostly associated with blind people, known as seeing eye dogs or guide dogs. But service dogs are trained to do all sorts of things, recognize when someone is about to have a seizure, a diabetic emergency and more. They're truly highly trained life saving animals that need to go where their humans go so they can do their job–alert them so they can be safe.

This vital role service dogs play is the reason their existence in public spaces is protected by federal law, even if that establishment doesn't allow dogs. But there has been an uptick in people attempting to treat their Emotional Support Animals (ESA) as service animals or acquiring fake paperwork. ESAs are not trained professionally to be in public spaces and just about any animal can become an ESA with some paperwork usually completed by a mental health professional.

Service dogs are typically trained professionally for 1-2 years before they're released to their new family full time. The process of getting a service dog can cost anywhere from $15k-$50k according to GoodRX. But the rise of imposter service dogs is causing real life issues. One man took to social media to explain how he was asked to leave a business due to his seeing eye dog.

Paul is blind and uses a seeing eye dog in public spaces, he shared a video to his social media page, Matthew and Paul explaining the ordeal and why he thinks it happened. "I'm blind and I just got kicked out of a restaurant in Seattle. I walked in with my guide dog Mister Maple and immediately somebody walked up to me and said 'no pets allowed only service dogs.'"

Paul says he confirmed that Mister Maple was indeed a service dog before the man asked if he was an emotional support dog. After showing the man his dog's guide dog harness which was attached to the dog, the man accused him of lying about his blindness.

"A lot of people in the blind community still have functional vision," Paul recalls saying. "But it's like I have a pinhole of vision, it's all I can see."

The man supposedly tells Paul, "it's not my first rodeo," after hearing the explanation of why he has a guide dog. But when the bewildered blind man offers to come back with Mister Maples paperwork the man threatens to call the police.

In the caption of Paul's video he writes, "this is just a reminder that if you or someone you know has purchased a fake service dog vest or fake papers, it may be contributing to a larger problem that impacts those who really need these amazing dogs!"

You can watch the entire shocking story below:

Comedian Drew Lynch thinks his service dog, Stella, is amazing.

Which is why he recently put together this short video showing all the ways she helps him throughout the day.

Image by TheDrewLynch/Twitter, used with permission.

The help provided by service dogs like Stella — not to mention the friendship — is immeasurable.

The thousands of service dogs working in the U.S. do a lot more than you might think.

When we see service dogs out in public, casually guiding their human through public spaces, we don't always stop to consider just how smart these dogs really are or appreciate that they are trained to do so much more than meets the eye.

Image by TheDrewLynch/Twitter, used with permission.

These dogs are trained for much more than helping people with vision or hearing impairments.

They can work with people who use powered or manual wheelchairs, have various types of autism, or are prone to seizures. They can also alert people to other complications, like low blood sugar. According to the National Service Animal Registry, you can qualify for a service dog if you have any condition that limits your daily physical activity.

Although Drew didn't specify why he has a service dog, he did joke on "America's Got Talent" that the state of California gave him one because of his stutter.

Check out Lynch's adorable video showcasing Stella's many talents and busy life: