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      Abusing the service dog privilege?

      The mother of a child who needs a service dog tells us she sees lots of 'fake' service dogs. She also tells us what to do about it

      The mother of a special needs child who's just gotten a service dog for her son, says she's amazed at how many people are trying to pass off non certified and untrained animals as service dogs to get the same 'privileges' as people with genuine helping dogs.

      Christine Stearns' son is autistic and has seizures, and they've had Rafi for just over three months. She joined us on Sunday's 'Weekend Today in Central New York' to talk about the issue.

      The Americans with Disabilities Act has revised its guidelines on service dogs (read, from their website) to define how and when a questionable animal can be challenged, and the 'incorrect' actions that can allow it to be denied access to places where pets are not welcome, but service dogs are allowed. Stearns points out that just having the 'working vest' is not an automatic entry, especially if the animal is out of control, or barking in a way that does not indicate distress for the person it's serving.

      We were surprised that people abuse the service dog privilege (much as the 'handicapped parking' privilege is abused), but on Googling "Americans Disabilities Act service dog laws' were amazed at the number of entries on fake service dogs (and companies that will help you get your pet 'qualified').