Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
Help Stop Service Dog Fraud
Service dogs are more than a vest purchased for a few dollars online. They require years of expert training to perform specific commands and provide calm, reliable assistance to people with disabilities -- including Veterans injured while fighting for our nation.
"When untrained pets posing as service dogs behave badly, it can affect attitudes toward people who truly need assistance dogs," said Stephanne Proske, patient experience officer of the Providence VA Medical Center. She added that Veterans can help by educating family and friends on this important topic.
The term "service dog" refers to any formally trained dog that performs tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Such tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing, pulling a wheelchair, opening doors or retrieving dropped items."
Service dogs are allowed access to VA facilities when accompanying an individual with a disability, but staff members are not allowed to care for, supervise or otherwise assume responsibility for a service animal. Owners must plan ahead, particularly if the medical care they are receiving would prevent them from caring for the dog.
"Most importantly, please don’t bring pets, emotional support animals, other animals or non-service dogs into the medical center, or other businesses," Proske said.
Service Dog Etiquette:
- Don’t touch the dog without asking permission first!
- Don't distract the dog in any way.
- Never feed the dog.
- Talk to the person, not the assistance dog.
- Don't whistle or make sounds to the dog, as this may provide a dangerous distraction.
- Never make assumptions about the individual’s capabilities.
- Don't be afraid of the dog.