Take Action Home >

Stop Fake Service-Dog Vests and Protect Disabled Individuals

1,146 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

3.82% Complete

Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

Fake service-dog vests pose serious risks to public safety and the disabled community. Join us in protecting the integrity of real service dogs and their handlers.


The rise in the misuse of fake service-dog vests is a growing threat to public safety and the rights of disabled individuals.

Fake service dogs can cause chaos, endanger the public, and undermine the trust in genuine service animals. We must take urgent action to address this issue and protect the integrity of real service dogs.

The Growing Problem

Fake service dogs have become more common, thanks to the ease of purchasing service-dog vests online. Websites like Amazon offer these vests for as little as $20, making it tempting for pet owners to misrepresent their animals as service dogs1. This misrepresentation undermines the legitimacy of real service dogs and poses serious risks.

Victor Hurtado, a former army member, experienced these dangers firsthand. While waiting for a flight, he was attacked by an untrained poodle masquerading as a service dog. His own service dog, Holly, saved him but was traumatized by the incident and temporarily unable to perform her duties2.

Legal and Moral Implications

Service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which stipulates that they must be trained to perform specific tasks related to their owner's disability. The ADA also makes it illegal to require documentation proving a dog's service status, which unfortunately makes it easier for people to fake3.

States have begun to address this issue by enacting laws that penalize those who falsely represent their pets as service animals. For example, Arizona imposes a $250 fine, while California can impose fines up to $1,000 and six months of jail time4. These measures aim to protect the rights of disabled individuals who rely on genuine service dogs.

Impact on the Disabled Community

Fake service dogs not only endanger public safety but also cast doubt on the legitimacy of real service animals. This skepticism can lead to discriminatory treatment of disabled individuals. Elizabeth Schoen, a legally blind woman, experienced being denied boarding on a plane with her guide dog due to past incidents with fake service animals2.

Paul, a legally blind TikToker from the duo "Matthew and Paul," also faced discrimination when he was denied entry to a restaurant with his guide dog, Mr. Maple. The staff did not believe that Mr. Maple was a legitimate service dog, a doubt fueled by encounters with unruly fake service dogs5.

The Cost of Real Service Dogs

Real service dogs undergo extensive and expensive training to perform their duties. They are taught to behave calmly in public, avoid distractions, and perform specific tasks that aid their handlers4. Training a service dog can cost tens of thousands of dollars, an investment that fake service dogs undermine.

Call to Action

The misuse of service-dog vests is not a victimless act. It endangers the public, disrespects the disabled community, and undermines the trust and support that legitimate service dogs provide. As awareness grows, so too must our efforts to protect the integrity of service animals and ensure that those who rely on them can do so without fear or discrimination.

We call upon the leaders of the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) to enact a prohibition on the sale and use of fake service-dog vests. By taking these actions, we can protect the rights of disabled individuals and ensure a safer, more respectful environment for everyone.

Sign the petition now to help stop the use of fake service-dog vests and protect those who genuinely rely on service animals.

More on this issue:

  1. MacKenzie Zwillman, Berkeley Beacon (4 April 2024), "Under the vest: Exposing the danger of fake service dogs."
  2. Katie Burkholder, The GA Voice (3 July 2018), "For Shame! Phony Service-Dog Vests Are an Insult."
  3. Kristi Carignan, Matt Fleming, Pettable (D M Y), "Real Service Dog Vest vs Fake: What is the Difference?"
  4. Cara Lynn Shultz, People (10 June 2024), "Living with Blindness — and Why Fake Service Dog Vests Are So Dangerous."
To Top

The Petition:

To the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Transportation, chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. Attorney General, and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB),

We, the undersigned, call upon the esteemed leaders of the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) to enact a prohibition on the sale and use of fake service-dog vests.

The Need for Regulation

Fake service-dog vests have become increasingly accessible through online marketplaces and retail stores. While these vests might seem harmless, their misuse poses significant risks to public safety and the well-being of those who genuinely rely on service animals for their daily functioning. Untrained dogs wearing fake service vests can cause disruptions, aggressive incidents, and increased skepticism towards legitimate service dogs. This undermines the protections and accommodations that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures for disabled individuals.

Impact on the Disabled Community

The misuse of fake service-dog vests leads to dangerous situations where untrained pets disrupt public spaces, potentially attacking real service dogs or causing chaos that endangers everyone involved. This misuse also creates unnecessary barriers and discrimination for those with legitimate service animals. Disabled individuals often face unwarranted scrutiny and denial of services because of the increasing prevalence of fake service dogs.

The Call for Action

We urge authorities to:

  • Prohibit the sale and distribution of fake service-dog vests.
  • Implement strict penalties for individuals who falsely represent their pets as service animals.
  • Educate the public and businesses on the importance of legitimate service dogs and the risks associated with fake ones.
  • Provide clear guidelines to businesses on how to identify and handle questionable service dog situations without violating the rights of disabled individuals. By taking these actions, you will ensure a safer and more respectful environment for everyone. These regulations will help protect the integrity of service animals and support the rights of those who genuinely need them, fostering a society that values and upholds the dignity of all its members.

Ensuring a Better Future

Implementing these measures will contribute to a future where disabled individuals can rely on their service animals without fear of discrimination or harm. It will also promote public safety and awareness, creating a more inclusive and respectful society for all.

Together, we can protect the rights of disabled individuals and ensure that service animals can perform their crucial roles without interference from fake counterparts. We urge you to take immediate action to address this pressing issue.

Sincerely,

To Top

Signatures: