Healthy People Are Faking Disabilities To Get A Service Dog

You may think of service animals as those puppies that keep blind people from strolling into traffic, but they’re available for all sorts of conditions, like PTSD or nervousnes. Or nothing at all, if you’re willing to lie.

Yes, as you might have noticed if you’ve flown next to a suspiciously unruly rottweiler or find three humping dogs forming a canine centipede at the DMV, there are a hell of a lot more service animals now than there used to be, and some of their owners seem perfectly healthy. Why in the hell would somebody fake a disability merely to get a fake service animal? To find out, we talked with “Ashley, ” who did precisely that.

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Does Your Lease Say “No Pets Allowed? ” Well …

This is the big one. If your pet countings as a supporting or assistance animal, you and your dog/ cat/ goat can stride merrily past “No pets allowed” signs all day long. That’s what get Ashley into the game.

“When my grandmother passed away, ” she says, “I got her dog, a little nine-month-old terrier. I was going to shelter him, but after a few months sorting things out at my grandma’s house in Arizona, he became my little baby.” Then she returned home and introduced her landlord to her brand-new roommate, a very good boy. The landowner said, “‘I guess that means you’re giving notice.’ Because the lease had a no-pets policy.”

But Ashley already had a counterattack ready in the form of a pile of documents prepared by her statute student nephew. The terrier, she told the landlord, was her assistance animal. According to the Fair Housing Act, renters are welcome to keep assistance animals, as “No pets” policies don’t apply, since such animals aren’t pets. Landowners can’t even charge extra fees or a pet deposit. Ashley was welcome to keep it, so long as it was never documented being aggressive and required no unreasonable accommodations.

PawPADS So, presumably no emotional support buffalo.

Those special laws weren’t meant for her and her grandma’s terrier. They were entailed for animals that help people with physical disabilities( such as guide dogs for the blind ), or convenience animals for people with severe mental disease like PTSD. Ashley simply claimed to have depression, having gotten the diagnosis specifically so she could keep the dog. The landlord said she’d soon hear from his lawyer. She never did. “I probably seem terrible to you, ” she says, “but I like to tell myself that at least I had a reason. I was depressed at the time, and I didn’t want to see something of my grandma’s go away. I grew attached, and I did what I had to do.”

But that was only the beginning.

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With A Fake Service Animal, You’re An Instant VIP

Want to bring your dog on an aeroplane? You can stow it under a seat for around $125, if it can fit. You can send it in cargo for $300. Or, if you call it a subsistence animal, it rides for free thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act. “It’s almost a secret club at airports and in airplanes, ” says Ashley. “Perfectly healthy people come in with service puppies, and there’s always a knowing nod we have.”

The Easter Turkey Files/ Facebook It doesn’t even need to be a dog.

Outside of housing and flights, the rules are a lot tighter. Business are free to kick out emotional support animals. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they only have to allow service animals that are trained to perform specific tasks for the disabled, with “being h* ckin cute and floofy” not counting as a specific service task. But plenty of businesses aren’t clear on the distinction, so they err on the side of letting assistance animals past every velvet rope.

“When you think of every place you’ve seen them, I’ve taken him there, ” says Ashley. “Lyfts. The metro. On beaches which said ‘No dogs allowed.’ Malls. Hotels. At first I did it because I wanted to see how far I could take it, but besides a few eateries, I found out that there’s virtually no limit.” Once, she even brought him into a spa, a place not commonly receptive to loud barks and shedding. “The manager had to come down and part a wall of employees for me, all of whom looked pissed.”

From skipped fees and other perks, she reckons she saves a couple thousand dollars a year.

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Certifying A Dog Can Be Nothing But An Elaborate Charade

There are a few routes, with varying degrees of legitimacy, to “certify” your animal( assistance animals today scope from cats to the frickin’ turkeys seen above ). The first is you go the whole nine yards and get a real one. A puppy may cost tens of thousands of dollars to train, and unless you’re legit incapacitated and need it to open doors or push buttons, you aren’t getting one.