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View Full Version : Service animals? Why no ask for proof??



garhkal
09-02-2013, 09:37 PM
Over on a convention related forum (gencon) we have a nice long thread where people are discussing ways to improve the following years convention. And during it, the convo got a little side tracked with discussions about service animals.

Someone brought up the point, that they find it ironic/strange that you can ask for someone to prove their disability (needing a placard on their car etc) but by the ADA, you can't ask someone who has a 'service animal' to prove they ARE a service animal (even though they supposedly require certification)..

Anyone else seen this?

bombsquadron6
09-02-2013, 10:46 PM
Over on a convention related forum (gencon) we have a nice long thread where people are discussing ways to improve the following years convention. And during it, the convo got a little side tracked with discussions about service animals.

Someone brought up the point, that they find it ironic/strange that you can ask for someone to prove their disability (needing a placard on their car etc) but by the ADA, you can't ask someone who has a 'service animal' to prove they ARE a service animal (even though they supposedly require certification)..

Anyone else seen this?
Uh, yeah.....about a million times. I work in public transit and you would not believe (or maybe you would) the number of people who bring their "service animals" on the trains and buses. As the public has learned more about the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and how to game the system there has been a remarkable increase in the number of people feigning disabilities and claiming that their dogs are service animals. And no, Garhkal, you don't actually have to prove you are disabled in many instances. We are not allowed to challenge their assertions that they are disabled. I have seen many so-called disabled people running to catch my train, nimbly working their way through the crowds to claim a seat for disabled people. I have seen able bodied people refuse to give up their seats for people with walkers or the very elderly or else refuse to move so we can get someone in a wheelchair into the area designated for handicapped people. It is selfishness to the Nth degree. But the number of people who bring their pets on the train claiming they are service animals is stunning. Again, we are not allowed to challenge them. Recently, I had a homeless guy with his huge pitbull get on the train and the dog jumped up on the seat with the guy. I went back to explain that while I would let them ride the dog had to stay on the floor. The pitbull growled at me, everyone else moved away and I said to hell with it-I'm not going to mix it up with this dog. Homeless people bring their dogs on the train all the time and most of the time the dogs are much better behaved than many passengers but it is still abusing the system. And I am a serious dog lover. Last winter I had a young couple, both obvious transients, get on the train with - I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP- a rooster on a leash. It was a service animal they assured me. OK. What the hell. I's a damned barnyard on the trains some days.

garhkal
09-03-2013, 04:46 AM
It makes me wonder then, WHY the powers that be made the logic that you can't ask for proof of disability or 'service animal'?

TJMAC77SP
09-03-2013, 10:59 AM
I have enough trouble with the people with handicaped parking placards. From what I have seen the only criteria seems to be either being older than 65 or bigger than 300 lbs so even if you could ask for proof it would seem too easy to obtain.

I have seen an increase in the number of 'service animals' lately. I was in the Orlando airport in June when this young woman came in with one. I assume the dog was a service animal because it was wearing one of those vest things. She looked perfectly ok but as I understand it they are using service animals for people with anxiety and crowd problems.

RS6405
09-03-2013, 11:33 AM
Animals can help individuals beyond being eyes for the blind. They are used for people with seizures, give them a warning before one takes place. They are used by those with PTSD to help calm the individual.

Austistics use them to limit the stimming, follow routines, and to help keep them safe. If my son had ever showed signs that he could bond with an animal, I would have got him one. The one time my brother took my son on vacation, he was at the Grand Canyon. My brother pulled over to park, but they had to cross the road to see the GC. When the road was clear, he told everyone it was safe to cross. Except being autistic, my son took longer to process the information, and started to cross when a car was approaching.

When he was younger, all of a sudden he would have an urge to run, which usually meant out the door into traffic. You would not believe how many times he's done that to me. I had special locks on the doors and a death grip in public. A service animal could of help him with the on-demand commands or to help prevent him from acting on urges.

So the disability may not be obvious, but they are being used more and more by people to help function in everyday life.

It's becoming popular with veterans with PTSD, so I'm surprised by the opinions from the MTF members on the subject.

Pullinteeth
09-03-2013, 03:41 PM
Over on a convention related forum (gencon) we have a nice long thread where people are discussing ways to improve the following years convention. And during it, the convo got a little side tracked with discussions about service animals.

Someone brought up the point, that they find it ironic/strange that you can ask for someone to prove their disability (needing a placard on their car etc) but by the ADA, you can't ask someone who has a 'service animal' to prove they ARE a service animal (even though they supposedly require certification)..

Anyone else seen this?

Who says you CAN'T? Just because most people DON'T doesn't mean you CAN'T. They should have not only the certification that they require a service animal, in most (but not all) the animal itself should have certification of their training for said service.

bombsquadron6
09-03-2013, 04:00 PM
Who says you CAN'T? Just because most people DON'T doesn't mean you CAN'T. They should have not only the certification that they require a service animal, in most (but not all) the animal itself should have certification of their training for said service. Garhkal is correct. While the person is supposed to have some documentation proving disability and the animal is supposed to have some documentation proving that it is an assistance animal, those of us in public transit are not allowed to challenge them or even question the legitimacy. I'm sure this is the case in most business and public places. The regs were written by bureaucrats in Washington and the burden is on the public to accommodate those with disabilities. This has led to many abuses of the law and those with genuine disabilities often have to compete with those who are abusing the system.

RS6405 made valid points above about the fact that often disabilities are not evident and service animals are frequently used legitimately by these people. After 35 years in public transit I think I am fairly good at determining whether someone is gaming the system or not and I have found that people who are legitimately disabled are the ones who follow all the rules, have the documentation for their animals and are often the ones who give up their seats to those with more debilitating conditions. The examples I gave earlier were all flagrant abuses of the system, I believe. And I know how difficult it is to keep autistic kids from harming themselves. A dear friend has a 16 year old autistic son and has dealt with the same issues that RS6405 describes. This boy also does not relate to animals so an assistance dog was never an option.

The public has every right to be disgusted by those who take advantage of a law that was so loosely written that almost anyone can claim to be disabled for their own advantage. Transit companies and businesses are all worried about getting sued so they give the employees that have to deal with this each day no ability to make judgments about who is legitimate and who is gaming the system. This hurts disabled people the most in the long run.

TJMAC77SP
09-03-2013, 04:16 PM
Animals can help individuals beyond being eyes for the blind. They are used for people with seizures, give them a warning before one takes place. They are used by those with PTSD to help calm the individual.

Austistics use them to limit the stimming, follow routines, and to help keep them safe. If my son had ever showed signs that he could bond with an animal, I would have got him one. The one time my brother took my son on vacation, he was at the Grand Canyon. My brother pulled over to park, but they had to cross the road to see the GC. When the road was clear, he told everyone it was safe to cross. Except being autistic, my son took longer to process the information, and started to cross when a car was approaching.

When he was younger, all of a sudden he would have an urge to run, which usually meant out the door into traffic. You would not believe how many times he's done that to me. I had special locks on the doors and a death grip in public. A service animal could of help him with the on-demand commands or to help prevent him from acting on urges.

So the disability may not be obvious, but they are being used more and more by people to help function in everyday life.

It's becoming popular with veterans with PTSD, so I'm surprised by the opinions from the MTF members on the subject.

RS, I don't think the MTF members are against service animals. I think they are acknowledging that some people have figured out how to game the system. That is wrong and ultimately harms those who truly need these animals.

Pullinteeth
09-03-2013, 04:24 PM
Garhkal is correct. While the person is supposed to have some documentation proving disability and the animal is supposed to have some documentation proving that it is an assistance animal, those of us in public transit are not allowed to challenge them or even question the legitimacy. I'm sure this is the case in most business and public places. The regs were written by bureaucrats in Washington and the burden is on the public to accommodate those with disabilities. This has led to many abuses of the law and those with genuine disabilities often have to compete with those who are abusing the system.

RS6405 made valid points above about the fact that often disabilities are not evident and service animals are frequently used legitimately by these people. After 35 years in public transit I think I am fairly good at determining whether someone is gaming the system or not and I have found that people who are legitimately disabled are the ones who follow all the rules, have the documentation for their animals and are often the ones who give up their seats to those with more debilitating conditions. The examples I gave earlier were all flagrant abuses of the system, I believe. And I know how difficult it is to keep autistic kids from harming themselves. A dear friend has a 16 year old autistic son and has dealt with the same issues that RS6405 describes. This boy also does not relate to animals so an assistance dog was never an option.

The public has every right to be disgusted by those who take advantage of a law that was so loosely written that almost anyone can claim to be disabled for their own advantage. Transit companies and businesses are all worried about getting sued so they give the employees that have to deal with this each day no ability to make judgments about who is legitimate and who is gaming the system. This hurts disabled people the most in the long run.

I saw a Judge Judy case in which a landlord asked a guest on his property about her "service" dogs (3) and she sued him. He won but she still sued him for discrimination. She had the paperwork and said she is required to carry it-the dogs were literally just for comfort-no training required. Why would she be required to carry it if no one could ask to see it? I get that your employer doesn't allow you to ask but as far as I know, there are no general prohibitions to asking as implied by the OP....

Rusty Jones
09-03-2013, 04:38 PM
Same deal with driving a taxi. We can't ask for proof.

But one thing I can tell you is that it's a small world. If I picked up a customer before, I'll remember him or her if I pick them up again. So if they get in the cab with a dog, and then come back the second time around without a dog... they're not bringing their dog in my cab again.

bombsquadron6
09-03-2013, 04:41 PM
That's how screwed up this is. She had THREE service dogs???? She sues anyone who questions her??? She has documentation that they are there for her comfort???? I know this is probably all true because I have seen similar things over and over. We used to have a creepy woman with a vicious pitbull (named Pinky) who rode trains and buses. She had documentation that the dog was a service animal but what it really was was her protector. She was insane and usually homeless. She treated the dog very badly, which was probably one reason that it was vicious. She would ride the buses and trains and if another service dog got on with a passenger, Pinky would try to attack it. She rode for years and drove us all crazy. The last I heard some years ago was that Pinky was shot and killed by police after some confrontation. It was likely true although I never confirmed it. The point is that anyone can get documentation that their dog is a service animal. There are apparently no standards. And anyone who gets one of these dogs can treat it badly, it doesn't have to have any social skills and they can ride public transit. Everyone is so afraid of getting sued under the ADA which goes into federal court so they just say to hell with it. That's how the system REALLY works.

garhkal
09-03-2013, 08:18 PM
I have enough trouble with the people with handicaped parking placards. From what I have seen the only criteria seems to be either being older than 65 or bigger than 300 lbs so even if you could ask for proof it would seem too easy to obtain.

I have seen an increase in the number of 'service animals' lately. I was in the Orlando airport in June when this young woman came in with one. I assume the dog was a service animal because it was wearing one of those vest things. She looked perfectly ok but as I understand it they are using service animals for people with anxiety and crowd problems.

When i looked up a list of what people can get service animals for i was shocked.. In addition to seeing eye dogs, they are used for those with epilepsy and other seizure issues, along with autism, depression, and anxiety issues.. it seems anyone can have a 'mental issue' and get a service animal these days.

As far as teh disability placards, imo if they are not physically disabled or mentally disabled to where they can't walk that far, they should not get them. BUT i realize i am in the minority on that front.


The public has every right to be disgusted by those who take advantage of a law that was so loosely written that almost anyone can claim to be disabled for their own advantage. Transit companies and businesses are all worried about getting sued so they give the employees that have to deal with this each day no ability to make judgments about who is legitimate and who is gaming the system. This hurts disabled people the most in the long run.

Exactly. More and more companies are worried about lawsuits by denying/asking for it, so they don't challenge those who have animals with them.


That's how screwed up this is. She had THREE service dogs???? She sues anyone who questions her??? She has documentation that they are there for her comfort????

And that is why i brought this up. I have heard of many people try to bring their animals with them anywhere, on the bases that since they are 'comfort animals' they should be under the same "Service animal protections".

MLH1954
09-04-2013, 12:27 AM
Working in the hospitality industry we see the same things. We have discovered that according to the ADA comfort animals are not covered.

Pullinteeth
09-04-2013, 04:35 PM
Working in the hospitality industry we see the same things. We have discovered that according to the ADA comfort animals are not covered.

100% correct.

garhkal
09-04-2013, 07:19 PM
But if you can't ask whether they have proof their 'animal is a service one or not, how can you differentiate between a comfort animal over a service one?

MLH1954
09-06-2013, 11:55 PM
But if you can't ask whether they have proof their 'animal is a service one or not, how can you differentiate between a comfort animal over a service one?

This is what the ADA guidance provides: According to ADA requirements you are ONLY allowed to ask the following questions. (No other questions may be asked.)
Is the animal required because of a disability?
What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

It goes on to say: Service animals are trained to perform specific functions and tasks that the guest with disabilities cannot perform for him or herself. (I.E. Open doors, carry items, and etc.)
and Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, or crime deterrence are NOT “service animals”.

garhkal
09-07-2013, 03:20 AM
So what 'service' does an animal who is there for autistic kids provide?
what of those who are there for Epilepsy?

bombsquadron6
09-07-2013, 06:30 PM
This is what the ADA guidance provides: According to ADA requirements you are ONLY allowed to ask the following questions. (No other questions may be asked.)
Is the animal required because of a disability?
What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

It goes on to say: Service animals are trained to perform specific functions and tasks that the guest with disabilities cannot perform for him or herself. (I.E. Open doors, carry items, and etc.)
and Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, or crime deterrence are NOT “service animals”.

It's all well and good that the regs identify that an animal has to perform a function but who is going to enforce this? Here is what happens in the real world, as opposed to the alternate reality that is some bureaucratic office in D.C. where the regs are written (and I use my job as train operator to illustrate): Allegedly disabled guy with dog gets on train. Although my employer has never told me to ask the questions above and will probably get pissed if I do, I ask anyway. Guy says, "It's a service animal. He barks when the mailman comes to the door, or he picks up my dirty socks or he does this or that." So how am I supposed to confirm this other than to call the transit police and have them interrogate the guy? And all the while the other passengers are getting pissed because the train is not moving because I have decided to be an ADA enforcer. BTW, the next words out of the guy's mouth will be, "I will be discussing this with an attorney who specializes in ADA law." The reality is that companies do not want the employees asking any questions that will lead to legal trouble. So it is a wide open frontier out there for anyone who wants to game the system and use the ADA to their advantage. The prevailing attitude among companies is, "Screw it. You want to bring your so-called service animal on the train or cab or hotel or whatever? We won't challenge you." THAT is the way the system really works.

bombsquadron6
09-10-2013, 05:05 PM
OH! How convenient! In this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, which I subscribe to, comes this timely column by Robert Kirby who is a humor columnist. This column has to do with his recent encounter with a "service animal." He also makes reference to TRAX, which is the light rail train system. He pretty much sums up what we have discussed on this thread.
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56848122-78/dogs-service-dog-kirby.html.csp


On another note, I recalled yesterday another animal encounter on the train which happened a few years ago and I had completely forgotten about until now. I arrived at a station in the downtown area and there was a guy waiting on the platform with an enormous snake draped around his shoulders and neck. I thought to myself, "Please, please, please. DON'T GET ON MY TRAIN. Go bother someone else!!! So of course the guy gets on my train. I called the controller and said there was a guy carrying a big snake getting on the train and the controller was silent for a few moments. This often means he is busting a gut laughing with the other people in the control room. He comes back over the radio and says, "Tell the passenger he has to have it on a leash." Smartass. So I hike to the back car of the train to find the guy and say, "Uh.. about the snake...." He immediately undrapes it and stuffs it into a pillowcase. Good enough for me! Moral of the story? That was some years ago. Probably by now the guy has found out about the ADA "service animal" ruse and tells everyone it's a service snake.

garhkal
09-10-2013, 07:22 PM
I loved that column that mr kirby wrote. And it sums up what this thread is about!