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Old 09-29-2009, 09:13 PM   #1
Stellapedia
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Vent about "service" dog at WDW

We were at HS this past Sunday with a friend. We had our dog (Aussie) and she had her dog (standard poodle). When we went into the little mermaid show, the CM mentioned something about the poodle's "cousin" already being inside.
We went in and were sitting down and this couple in wheelchair seating had a pink stroller with a wheelchair pass on it (allowing to use the stroller in place of a wheelchair). It was completely enclosed in mesh which I thought was odd but figured that for whatever reason the baby inside it needed it that way.
The lady kept talking to the stroller, chastising it, and then I realized that it wasn't a kid, it was a DOG. A little shih tzu thing with a hat and bows in its ears. Whining, barking, annoying. Her "service" dog in a freaking stroller with ribbons in his hair. AND the DOG was allowed to use his/her stroller as a wheelchair. So now the service dog is disabled?

I was so annoyed by this. I am 99.9% certain that this dog offered no service to the owner other than not having to pay for boarding. A service dog does not ride around full time in a stroller. Especially a pink stroller with ribbons in its ears. A whining yelping shih tzu in a pink stroller with ribbons in its ears.

Now, I have a Phil and Ted double sport buggy. It has a rather large footwell for the main seat and a big basket, as well as a hammock like second seat. And when it gets really hot and the pavement is scorching, or I am otherwise concerned about him, I MAKE the dog sit on the footwell or in the bottom basket (aussies aren't that big, and he's small even for an aussie). But that's only when it's really too hot for him to be walking, and we leave. But sometimes I just don't realize it before going how hot it will be, or we're walking somewhere I didn't think or for longer. So I don't take issue with a dog temporarily riding in a stroller for legit purposes (like not burning his paws off), but this?

My child's needs are not outwardly apparent (versus my friend that was there and it's fairly obvious why she needs the dog), and I am sure that sometimes people wonder why we have him and wonder what on earth he can do, esp because of his size (I don't need his strength, I need his nose). But he is vested, well behaved, and almost invisible when you don't choose to pay attention to him. He disappears under a table or bench like he is supposed to (except in Philharmagic, we don't even try anymore, it terrifies him). So even if someone doubts his purpose, they can't doubt his behavior or the fact that he doesn't ride in a stroller with ribbons in his ears.

That's it, that's my rant of the day.
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:10 PM   #2
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Quote:
A service dog does not ride around full time in a stroller. Especially a pink stroller with ribbons in its ears. A whining yelping shih tzu in a pink stroller with ribbons in its ears.
That's a pretty amazing rant. I am really surprised that they did not get stopped before coming in.
There is a young woman in my daughter's dance class who has a small dog (I think it's a cockapoo, but not sure). It often rides in her lap in her wheelchair, so it is not a large or powerful dog. It has been trained to get things for her, to alert someone for her (she can't speak loud enough for people in another room to hear her if she calls), to be aware of some of her needs (like if she is out of position). He sometimes does wear ribbons in his ears.

But, he is quiet, well trained and well behaved.
Even if the dog in the stroller was a service dog, he/she would need to be well behaved. A whining, yelping dog could be asked to leave even if it was providing a service for its disabled handler.
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:56 PM   #3
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oops double post

Last edited by LockShockBarrel; 09-29-2009 at 10:58 PM. Reason: double post and added to it
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:57 PM   #4
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Could it have been an emotional support dog? I'm not sure if they're even allowed in the parks, can you clarify Sue?

Racer has made some noise at the parks before, he barked at a JAMinator because he was getting too close and was too loud, I think it was just a "What the heck are you and why are you getting so close!!!" reaction, and he's whined a little at some of the louder noises but that's it. And once he's told "quiet" he stops. I've seen little dogs for people with seizure disorders or once that can detect low blood sugars, but even then they're out with a little blanket or something, not being carted around in a stroller! That seems a bit much, even for Disney's tolerance.

I know they can't ask specifics into WHY someones disability, but they can ask for proof that the animal is a service animal, we've been asked a couple times, so I guess she either had proof and just had a really misbehaved dog, or no one bothered to ask her.
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:21 AM   #5
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Riding in a kid's lap in a wheelchair is different and understandable and I know a dog doesn't need to be a certain breed or size. My dog is under 20 pounds yet he fills our needs perfectly- easy to travel with, easy for our son to handle, and his nose works just as well as any big dog. But he walks. I would not have taken as much issue with the dog (even the ribbons and hat) if s/he was walking, not being carted around in a pink stroller used as a wheelchair.

I've never been asked for anything about the dog, esp at Disney. Never once has a CM asked why we had it, what he does, or anything of the like. I've had them ask what breed he was out of pure curiosity, but that's it. So I'm pretty sure they don't ask. And yes, my dog has his moments at WDW as well. WDW is pretty outrageous even for the most trained dog. Like I said, he hates Philharmagic and shakes the whole time. He also used to refuse to walk over the bridge to the monorail at the polynesian. But he doesn't whine and yelp the whole time, he just gives me the evil eye and secretly lets me know that he'll pee in my shoe later.
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LockShockBarrel View Post
Could it have been an emotional support dog? I'm not sure if they're even allowed in the parks, can you clarify Sue?
Not Sue but here's clarification:
An Emotional Support Dog, because it does not meet the ADA definition of a service animal, is not a service dog and, as such, does not enjoy the legal protection required for public access.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LockShockBarrel View Post
I know they can't ask specifics into WHY someones disability, but they can ask for proof that the animal is a service animal, we've been asked a couple times, so I guess she either had proof and just had a really misbehaved dog, or no one bothered to ask her.
Clarification:
A business may ask only 3 questions:
1. Are you disabled? (yes/no)
2. Is this a service animal? (yes/no)
3. What task(s) has the dog been trained to do to mitigate the disability?

Anyone asking for proof of service dog status is crossing the legal line.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:30 AM   #7
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Videogal answered the big questions.

I know the OP knows that legitimate service dogs can come in all sizes and shapes - what I wrote was mostly for other posters who don't and might think a small dog could not be a service dog.
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:57 AM   #8
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I realize that service dogs can come in all shapes and sizes. What I'm wondering about is how a dog can in any way provide a service when he's in a stroller with netting between him and any person he may need to service. I undertand about siezure dogs and diabetes dogs, but I thought they generally need to be held by their owners so the dog can sense pending issues. Something just sounds odd about this situation.

I guess I'm just trying to get educated a bit more about this (ok, I'm just a curious busybody LOL). I would never question a person about something like this as (a) it's none of my business (b) as the parent of an Aspie, I know how easy it is to have hidden issues so I would never question other people's hidden issues. I would imagine other people would be interested to learn more as well if anybody has any ideas about this.
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Old 09-30-2009, 09:20 AM   #9
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One of the big problems with people trying to pass off a non-service dog as such is that it potentially makes business owners suspicious of all dogs. Many years ago when I was in college, I worked for a large retail chain. People would come in with a dog, the manager would tell them "no dogs allowed" and they would insist it was a service dog. Some of these dogs obviously were NOT service dogs, as they would try to jump on people and generally behave in a manner suggesting they were untrained. It ended up that the manager was suspicious of ANY dog that wasn't a lab or shepherd wearing a vest and harness.

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Old 09-30-2009, 12:02 PM   #10
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This type of situation can get really messy. My parents have a child with special needs who loves their dog. Someone told them that as long as the dog was providing a service to their child then it was a service dog and they can take the dog with them everywhere. Here's the problem. This is not a trained service dog and there are some behaviors that this dog has that would preclude them from being certified. Nothing major but definite obedience issues.

The problem develops when these dogs are called a service dog and then they behave inappropriately. I know it it illegal to ask for proof of a service dogs certification but to be honest we carry it with us and are very glad to show it to anyone we come into contact with who wants to know if it's a real service dog.

I guess to me this is like the people who rent wheelchairs to get preferred treatment but who really don't need them. If you need a service animal then get a service animal, I'll be happy to hook you up with an organization, if you are wanting to take your dog with you everywhere then I'm sorry but you need a Kennel.

This is just how I feel.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by christymarie View Post
This type of situation can get really messy. My parents have a child with special needs who loves their dog. Someone told them that as long as the dog was providing a service to their child then it was a service dog and they can take the dog with them everywhere. Here's the problem. This is not a trained service dog and there are some behaviors that this dog has that would preclude them from being certified. Nothing major but definite obedience issues.

The problem develops when these dogs are called a service dog and then they behave inappropriately. I know it it illegal to ask for proof of a service dogs certification but to be honest we carry it with us and are very glad to show it to anyone we come into contact with who wants to know if it's a real service dog.

I guess to me this is like the people who rent wheelchairs to get preferred treatment but who really don't need them. If you need a service animal then get a service animal, I'll be happy to hook you up with an organization, if you are wanting to take your dog with you everywhere then I'm sorry but you need a Kennel.

This is just how I feel.
They are breaking the law and will get caught eventually. The person that gave them that information is ignorant. In order to use a service dog the handler must be disabled as defined by the ADA and the dog must meet the definition of Service Dog, as defined by the ADA and relevant case law. The person with the disability must be the handler because the dog must be trained to do something that mitigate the disability. Being a cuddle toy doesn't count.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mary976 View Post
One of the big problems with people trying to pass off a non-service dog as such is that it potentially makes business owners suspicious of all dogs. Many years ago when I was in college, I worked for a large retail chain. People would come in with a dog, the manager would tell them "no dogs allowed" and they would insist it was a service dog. Some of these dogs obviously were NOT service dogs, as they would try to jump on people and generally behave in a manner suggesting they were untrained. It ended up that the manager was suspicious of ANY dog that wasn't a lab or shepherd wearing a vest and harness.

Mary
This is why the fault lies with businesses who don't bother to train their employees (or themselves) in service dog law. It is illegal to refuse access to anyone with a service dog and there is ample information on how businesses can LEGALLY address this problem. The laws that pertain to public access, and this is intended as information for interested posters, not as a shot across your bow, is located on the Delta Society website, among other places. Yes, frauds abound, but a general "no dog" policy can really lead a business into a legal swamp if they try and enforce it without the support of the law.
I might just ask, as well, can you imagine how it feels to use a service dog and enter a business that has a "store dog" in residence, or dine at a restaurant in a town that has persuaded its city council that the Health Department "no dogs in restaurants" laws are archaic, unworldly, and petty without considering the safety of the eventual Service Dog-accompanied diner?. Now, THAT is exciting!
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by videogal1 View Post
They are breaking the law and will get caught eventually. The person that gave them that information is ignorant. In order to use a service dog the handler must be disabled as defined by the ADA and the dog must meet the definition of Service Dog, as defined by the ADA and relevant case law. The person with the disability must be the handler because the dog must be trained to do something that mitigate the disability. Being a cuddle toy doesn't count.
Unfortunately, there are places online you can go and PURCHASE certification that states that your dog is a service dog. That's sad, but true. Some people are always looking for ways to cheat the system.

On another note, with service dogs the handler does not have to have a disability. Our oldest DD has a service dog and her dad and I are the handlers. She is not able to handle the dog independently, so we function as a team. We still have the same privileges as other people with service dogs. But, one main requirement is that we are a TEAM...thus our DD can't take the dog somewhere without us (like school) and we (her dad and I) can't take the dog out without our DD. We are very new to the service dog "thing" as we've only had our dog for about 2 months. Most of the responses we have received are very positive. It's somewhat funny because we live in a fairly small town. My oldest DD is one of two in her school in a wheelchair...so everybody knows her. Now, she has a service dog so she is getting very well-known outside of school, too!
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:51 PM   #14
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Are you guys absolutely sure they're not allowed to ask for some type of identification that states that it is a trained certified service dog? Anyone who goes through Guiding Eyes for the Blind for a guide dog is issued a card with a pic of the dog and "user" stating that it's a service animal used to guide a visually impaired person. We've been asked for it at airports and at Disney, and the reason given to us has always been a "just making sure, people have gone as far as borrowing or stealing harnesses as "proof" or made phony certificates or even made fake blankets trying to pass off a pet as a service dog to avoid fees or just to take their dog with them" Personally I don't mind showing ID, I think its a good idea, but maybe they need to regulate what is "proof'' and whats not.

As for the emotional support comment I made, I understand there's a difference, and that they're not protected by the ADA law, I'm just saying maybe a CM let it go thinking it was a SD or just doesn't know the difference, or maybe it's easier not to "start trouble" and just let them through.
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Old 10-02-2009, 12:39 AM   #15
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I think in general, Disney is WAY too lenient, and this has got to stop. One day a fake SD will bite a child, and then who will be liable? One day an untrained fake will interfere with someone's needed, trained, SD, and then who will be liable? I've also seen a dog in a stroller...a bulldog that was on the bus and covered with a blanket so no one could see they had a dog. These guests strolled back to their room at Pop Century. I reported them, and the CM just looked the other way and said that since they didn't see the dog, they couldn't do anything about it. I've seen people who admit that their dogs are emotional support dogs- saw one recently at Port Orleans Riverside- never should have been allowed in a guest room or in the parks. She was a pekingese and snapped/lunged at my SD as we passed by. I saw a lady on her own at a pin event with TWO "hearing dogs" who were so untrained that they were pulling ahead of her, barking, and wrapping their leashes around her legs as she tried to walk through a busy area. How anyone needed two hearing dogs was beyond me...one for each ear? These tiny dogs were wearing vests, but were obviously NOT trained for anything. They tried to run out from under the restroom stall to get to my SD who was in another stall with me and were choking themselves on their collars. Sometimes people have been told incorrectly that they can bring an ESD anywhere but usually people feel they're entitled to do whatever they want, including lying about bringing precious Fido on their vacation, into guest rooms, and into the parks. One woman, when asked at the entrance to AK if her dog was a SD, actually told the CM that her dog became anxious when left at home, and as such, needed to be with her. She was let in the gate with the dog in her purse. Again, it will take a legal issue to get Disney to act responsibly against people misrepresenting pets as SD's and it's obvious that CM's need to be trained to ask questions. I suggest that the OP and anyone else concerned write a letter to Guest Relations. We shouldn't have to wait for a problem for this issue to be addressed.---Kathy
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