Monday, September 6, 2010

There He Goes Again

I know that there is generally a lot of confusion when it comes to laws and regulations regarding Service Dogs, but I would expect the man who is "supposed" to be America's most popular (ugh) dog personality to know better than this.

There was recently an announcement posted on Cesar Millan's home page that his Pit Bull, Junior, had been certified as a Service Dog.  The page was later taken down, probably because Cesar realized how asinine it was, but here it is, courtesy of Google Cache (click to enlarge):

There are so many problems here.

For once, this US Service Dog Registry thing seems to be nothing more than a listing service.  I can even register Marge as a Service Dog with them if I'd like to - and God knows, she is not exactly Service Dog material, nor do I need a Service Dog.  (Someone just successfully registered their deceased dog to prove the problem with this web site.) And, for the low price of $50, I can obtain some sort of certificate stating it formally.  They did not assess Cesar's dog in any way. Surely, the oh-so-great Dog Whisperer can do better than this.

Next, Cesar does not mention anywhere on this page that Service Dogs must be trained to perform some kind of activity to aid their disabled handler in order to truly be Service Dogs.   They may aid their handler as a seeing eye dog, hearing ear dog, mobility dog, or may retrieve things, alert their handlers to oncoming medical issues (such as seizures, panic attacks), among many other behaviors.  But they must do SOMETHING.
"A Service Dog is defined in the Americans With Disabilities Act as "any guide dog, 
signal dog, or other animal
 individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the 
benefit of an individual with a disability."
Whether or not Cesar is disabled is none of my business, but he should NOT be giving people the wrong idea by telling them that they can go out and get their dog certified so that it can accompany them in public places.  This is extremely dangerous for true Service Dog handlers, who already have to battle with "fakers" bringing misbehaved pet dogs in to public establishments unlawfully.

I'd like to hear the thoughts of those who have Service Dogs or are more familiar with the laws.  I am glad that this unimpressive page was taken down, but I am upset that it was posted in the first place because, to me, it shows a true lack of understanding on Cesar's part as to what a Service Dog really is.  Not cool at all.  Really, it just adds more fuel to the fire of my dislike for this commercialized, unscientific, and overly negative "dog psychology" empire.


Amy / Layla the Malamute September 6, 2010 at 3:42 AM  

Doesn't that just drive you crazy?

At work one day, a patient and I were talking about how Layla's a therapy dog. One of the other customers (a hardcore junkie) asked why she isn't there with me. I gave a very short explanation about how she isn't allowed unless she's providing emotional therapy. He said something to the effect of, "It's against the law for people to ask what your disability is, so you should just bring her." It seems that the ones who always try to skirt around the law are the ones that know it best.

Technically, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they're really not allowed to ask what the disability is. It's not always apparent. Now they have Psychological Service Dogs (ironically, the exact reason I got Layla for myself) but that's more to help people who have schizophrenia and things. The dogs calm the people down, and sometimes even sense when there's about to be an episode.

Even though people aren't allowed to ask what the disability is, if the dog does something damaging, they can ask to see proof that it's a service dog. They might be able to ask for that anyway, I'm not quite sure. But anyone can order a Service Dog vest off of a website without providing proof, and if someone walks into a store with the dog vested, who's going to push it?

I would LOVE to take Layla everywhere with me. Honestly, I would. But it's just not cool (and I think super bad Karma) to pretend to have a disability. Similarly, they have in Disney a special card that anyone can get at Guest Services that lets them avoid all lines - I think it was mostly designed for people who either couldn't spend a lot of time on their feet, or even Autistic people who can't handle being in close quarters for such a time. You don't need to provide any documentation that there's a disability, they just take your word for it (on the presumption that most people wouldn't be so deceitful, I guess). They don't really publicize the card, but it is there. I was behind two separate parties last year - one lady had her son who had Downs Syndrome and she was talking to another man. The man said something about how it's the greatest thing ever because he never has to wait, and "all the retards are finally good for something." And he said that TO the mom of the Downs Syndrome boy!! Some people are just...ugh. I don't even know the word for it.

Back to the service dog thing..I didn't read it myself, but someone said that Cesar didn't write that himself and the writer who wrote that announcement (about Junior becoming a service dog) has been fired. Either way though - that's one thing that nobody needs, more idiots who shouldn't have dogs in the first place bringing them everywhere with them.

Dawn September 6, 2010 at 7:32 AM  

For awhile during my time as a librarian a man came in with a greyhound. It had a rope as a leash and most of the time the patron wasn't even holding the "leash." The dog wandered around the library, sniffing other people, and wasn't even near the patron. We asked him to take the dog outside but the patron said the dog was a service dog. Apparently the "service" was that the patron felt "happier" with the dog near.


Anonymous September 6, 2010 at 8:51 AM  

Happy Labor Day! Just droppin by to let you know I gave you an award today. Feel free to pop in and pick it up :)

Sam September 6, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

Amy, I don't even think business owners are allowed to ask for proof. From what I've heard from Service Dog Handlers, they can ask three specific questions:

- Is that a Service Dog?
- Are you disabled?
- And I believe they may also ask for the behaviors that the dog is trained to perform (without asking what the disability is).

Either way, it's crazy that people would go to such lengths to get around the law. I know that I personally can't imagine brining a dog every where with me if I didn't have to. Outsiders act as though SD Handlers WANT to have a dog with them.. like it's their fuzzy little pet and it must be fun to bring them everywhere.. but I think they'd much prefer to be able people and not have to deal with all of the problems that go in to using a Service Dog.

Pwd September 6, 2010 at 11:48 AM  

Whether or not some writer on his staff wrote that or not it was his responsibility in the first place. After all the writer did quote him!

I saw the page myself and was furious to say the least as a person with a disability and service dog this sort of thinking causes true teams more discrimination then not. Many of us were glad to see he took it down but what was interesting is that he didn't apologize for misleading the public. Personally it tells me more about the mans character (how shady).

Another thing though I didn't get to read it as I gotten a google alert late. The exert from the bot stated that Junior is just starting his formal training to be a service dog. Interesting it's like having the barn door closed after the horse left. The link took me to CM page but I was not authorized to read it. So what does he have to hide I wonder.

In my opinion it seems he wanted certification papers due to the New Regulations of the ADA (in effect by 2011). Breed Ban Restriction Clause which makes it quite clear the ADA trumps the state Dangerous Dog Act.

Although a business cannot demand such papers under the ADA/New and Old a business can ask 2 questions.

1. Is this a service dog for your disability?
2. What tasks does your dog do? Although it doesn't has to be so specific that will lead the business to ones disability.

Also if a service dog becomes unruly or aggressive in any way such as growling, barking (unless getting human help) jumping on people, begging for food, even running loose (unless getting human help), etc. the business does indeed have legal rights to have the dog in question removed. However the individual may indeed come back and shop without that particular dog.

One does not need to request documentation. A service dog or mini horse must be under control and also must be house broken. (that is in black and white now). No room for interpretation.

That is just the highlight of the laws. As for those that are fakers or companies or people promoting such scams, yes they know just enough of the law that looks good. But get caught and one will have not only prison time which no dog with you but a fine as well.

If you like to read more about the New Regulations and about the different types of service animals such as peanut alert/respond dogs, PSD you could go to my forum. I try to sort all these things out.

houndstooth September 6, 2010 at 11:58 AM  

We've actually been having a lot of discussions about this in our circle of dog friends because one woman that we know takes her Sheltie with her everywhere and tells people that she's a service dog because once the dog licked her face when her blood sugar was low!

Personally, I believe that all service dogs should have to pass the CGC and be able to prove themselves capable of doing their job in some capacity, plus show that they can eliminate on command and not go when they are working otherwise. There needs to be one organization that oversees and certifies all service dogs in this country. It would eliminate the abuses that are flagrantly going on a lot of the time. I also think that these dogs should have an ID badge that is attached to their vest that shows that they are offically certified. People wouldn't need to ask their owner questions about what their disability is or why they have the dog, but they could see that the dog is official.

People who abuse the service dog laws are the lowest of the low, in my opinion!

Kathy Mocharnuk September 6, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

If CM was just trying to push the training portion why didnt he just work to have Junior certified as a therapy dog that can go and help others? A service dog to me sounds like it is to perform a service. I have a friend who trained her dog to do all the things a service dog would do, she picks things up, opens doors, closes doors, gets her phone, things like that, when my friend got ALS and was still able to walk it was really cool her dog was able to help her a lot and got certified as a service dog. If that was posted on any of Caesars official pages by an employee of his, it looks like a huge advertisement and if he is about educating the public then he gave a very misleading impression of what a service dog is all about in my opinion-tsk tsk, very bad Caesar.

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! September 6, 2010 at 4:13 PM  

I wonder if he got him papered as a 'minister' of some sorts too -

Sue September 6, 2010 at 6:41 PM  

I've also heard of people using these phony registrations so they can fly with their dogs and avoid the extra charge.

I'm with you regarding Cesar Millan. I think his techniques can do more damage than good, but he should be ashamed of that sort of announcement in his name.

Cinnamon and Mint September 6, 2010 at 7:10 PM  

What an immoral and inconsiderate act by a well-known dog personality, who is supposed to be a role model!

Kari in Alaska September 6, 2010 at 10:09 PM  

I have many issues with Cesar. He does a lot of talking in circles and something about him rubs me the wrong way. I also HATE people who fake service dogs. It is really detrimental to those who need them.


TC September 6, 2010 at 11:48 PM  

I don't have enough energy or time for Cesar's techniques in full. Using the standards that have been set forth I guess Dispatch would qualify as a service dog though, he provides comfort and sometimes if I'm upset he can calm me. Of course I'm not disabled and if the dog calms me it's because he wasn't with me.....

PoochesForPeace September 7, 2010 at 10:04 PM  

The crappy thing is Cesar is looked up to simply because he's on tv, so people end up thinking everything he does must be good, which definately isnt the case. Nice post :)

Never Say Never Greyhounds September 8, 2010 at 12:58 PM  

I think its a dis-"service" to real service dogs. I think you can pretty much slap a service dog jacket on any canine and call it a service dog. I don't think that is right.

I'm not a Cesar hater. I always think its funny when people are extremists. Love or hate, but no middle ground. Something can be learned from everyone. My least favorite trainer in the world occasionally comes up with something useful.

I don't agree with everything Cesar does and I think his explanations can be way off, but I bet there are more people walking their dogs today thanks to Cesar. I also think its perfectly okay to stop my dog from doing something just because I said so and without a treat bribe.

Never Say Never Greyhounds September 9, 2010 at 6:40 AM  

Not offended at all! :-) Sorry if my comment sounded like it was. And I totally agree that the service dog stunt was pretty ridiculous.

  © Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2008

Back to TOP