Fake “Service Dog” Owners Beware: It Could Soon be a Crime in Minnesota

fake service dogs

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

If you’re thinking of sneaking your regular ol’ doggo into service-dog-only establishments using a vest you bought on the Internet, think again — in Minnesota, this may soon be illegal and punishable with a fine.

“Minnesota lawmakers are considering bipartisan legislation that would criminalize taking an untrained service animal out in public,” reports MPR News this week. “Separate measures in the state House and Senate would make it a petty misdemeanor, punishable with a $100 fine, to pass off a pet as a trained assistance animal. Subsequent infractions would be considered misdemeanors under the bills.”

Our pals at Can Do Canines support these proposed laws, saying, “Misrepresenting an animal as a service animal is not a victimless crime. It negatively impacts those with a disability and a real service animal.”

“Fake service dogs do not receive rigorous training,” Can Do Canines points out. “This can pose a potential danger in public situations with overly excited or aggressive behavior towards humans or real service dogs. When an ill-trained animal is interfering with a service dog’s ability to do their often life-saving job, they are interfering with that person’s right to have a service dog that improves their quality of life.”

Luckily for Minnesota dog owners, tons of local establishments (including indoor spots) welcome leashed, well-behaved dogs whether or not they’re service animals. Stick to the places that welcome your pups — there are plenty!

Do you support these new laws? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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7 Comments

  1. Jean J. on March 7, 2018 at 10:39 am

    I support the law. I wish the punishment were more severe though. People who pretend their pets are service dogs just because the dog likes to go “bye-bye” are irresponsible. People who need these animals to get around, and to function in life are being hurt because so many establishments can’t tell the difference, and are having to ban all animals to protect themselves and their clients and customers. This is causing great hardship to many who no longer can get around on their own because their trained service animal has been banned.

  2. KJ on March 7, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    My only concern is the law being properly written for those pretending to be service animals by indicator. There are places which allow dogs but don’t advertise as such and people can make a scene attempting to right what they believe to be a wrong. This is more common place in this day and age as people are becoming more bold.

  3. KJ on March 7, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Also, how are they supposed to train service dogs for real life situations if there law would make it “illegal to take a untrained service 🐕 in public.”

  4. Keith on March 7, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    This is a bad idea! This law will just make more establishments more confused on what the rules are. A person with an actual service animal does not need any proof that it is a service animal under federal law. Establishments are going to start calling the police to verify if service animals are real and the police don’t have any way to do it either. The way it is right now, even bonafide service animals can be barred if they don’t behave. Let’s just let well behaved dogs go everywhere.

    • Pamela lutgen on March 9, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Agree 100%.
      I cannot afford $10,000 for a service dog but I can train my rescue dog to pick something up for me. Or whatever other need I may have. I can also retrain my dog as my needs change.
      Any new law will just burden those with financial hardships.
      Who should investigate who is really behind this and they will benefit.

  5. Sandy Hruby on March 7, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Yes I fully support this. We have heard many stories of real trained services dogs being damaged and unable to work due to actions of an untrained fake service dog. Our son relies on his service dog to be in public there are times we choose not to go as a family in fear of confrontation with an untrained dog.

  6. Sue Keator on March 7, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Unfortunately it seems nothing will be done. The House passed on this and may come back later. The Trespass law that is being looked at is no good. Boo.

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