By Athena McCloud

Texas Youth and Government legislation at the district conference passed the bill for the regulation of service animals by Deziree Guerra, Junior at Sam Houston High School.  

The bill was passed by the entire committee with only few revisions.

The bill would create a regulation that would require a person with a disability to purchase a patch for their service animal that shows they are approved by the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. This would be more rigorous regulation that would enhance the rules already in place for a handler to take the service animal into public facilities.

“I was trying to get my social security card because my mother had lost mine, and I noticed there were a few service animals in the building. And a couple of them were not acting to bar. Which made me question it and do more research into the topic.,” Said Guerra. “Imposter service animals must be stopped.”

According to the article “Fake Service Dogs: A shame .. And Crime,” a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that has completed special training so that they can assist their handler with actions they cannot do themselves.

The article “Emotional Support Animals Vs. Service Animals: The Facts” by Rita DiNunzio says that service animals are completely different from therapy or emotional support animals. They are appointed by a physician and are used to help with both physical and mental illnesses, but they do not have the same protection as a service dog.  

Additionally, it is starting to become common that individuals are making their dogs into imposters service animals. Which according to “Four-legged Imposters Give Service Dog Owner a Pause” by Lisa Napoli a fake service dog is easily recognized because of two basic facts. One that service dogs are highly trained individuals that are specifically trained to do certain activities for the owner. Second, their behavior – most imposters act wild and vicious.

Others want the rules to stay the same because they believe one should not have to justify why they have a service dog. Some feel uncomfortable sharing why they have a service dog because they feel they may be judged for disclaiming having a disability or illness.

“No one should need to justify their service dog,” said Doran Pedahzur, a Junior at the Ann Richards School.

Imposters are why Guerra decided to create a bill to help regulate service dogs. There are two main reasons why regulations on service animals will help those that actually need them. One reason is that these imposters are giving service dogs a bad name, according to the article by Napoli. The second reason is that these imposters are not trained to control their aggressive actions when around others.

For example in the article “These 19 states are cracking down on fake service dogs” by Michael Ollove, wrote about an experience that Chris Slavin, a handler of service animal had gone through. She was in an elevator when a lady walked in with her teacup poodle in her purse. The doors had closed when the poodle saw Slavin’s service dog, Earle and then the poodle jumped at Earle biting his snout. Making Earle bleed on to the floor and the woman lied saying that the poodle was her service dog, but soon after she admitted she just wanted to bring her into the building.

Although Guerra’s plan is to incorporate a patch to help regulate service animals, as the committee discussed the problems they brought up one fact. The badges can be copied and sold to those same imposters.