Stand Against Service Dog Fraud

When untrained pets posing as service dogs behave badly, people who truly need assistance dogs can face added discrimination and lose access to public places--both violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Misrepresenting a pet as a service dog is against the law and has serious consequences for people with disabilities who rely on trained service dogs for independence. Fraudulent service dogs cause confusion around the laws and can pose a serious threat to the safety of working service dogs.


of graduates have encountered a fraudulent or uncontrolled service dog in public where pet dogs are not allowed.


of graduates have had a dog interfere with, vocalize at, bite, or growl at their service dog.

1 in 5

of graduates feel that their quality of life and independence has been moderately or severely impacted by fraudulent service dogs.

What is a service dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as a working animal trained in specific tasks that directly mitigate the effects of a handler’s disability. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort do not qualify as service animals and are not permitted in public.

Service dog teams are permitted in any location the public is allowed if they meet the definition above and are in control and behaving in a safe manner.

What businesses can expect from a service dog team.

Service dogs must be clean, in control and behave in a safe manner. Aggression or continued misconduct, including barking, interfering with customers or toileting accidents can legally result in the dog’s removal from a business under the ADA.

Who does fraud impact?

Service dog fraud impacts our graduates and other people who rely on trained service dogs for independence. The quotes below come from a recent survey of our assistance dog teams--those directly affected by fraud.

boy kissing Canine Companions service dog

“A dog in a vest growled and snapped at our Canine Companions skilled companion. Because we are a three-part team, our assistance dog was between me and my son this put my son in danger.” -Skilled Companion Facilitator

Canine Companions Service Dog sitting next to person sitting in a wheelchair

“The store owner said people were bringing their badly-behaved pets into his store, so he adopted a ‘no dogs at all’ policy.” -Service Dog Team

Canine Companions Hearing Dog with woman

“[Being denied access] is exhausting and makes me feel more reluctant to take my assistance dog into public.” -Hearing Dog Team

Canine Companions Service Dog sitting in focus in front of a boy sitting in a wheelchair

“I’m so scared we will have a problem that we have avoided all air travel with our Canine Companions dog.” -Skilled Companion Facilitator



Grab an item while walking backwards to pull it



Turn a light on with nose or off with paw



Lead the handler to the source of a sound



Retrieve an item and hold it until commanded



Hold and carry an item in the mouth until commanded



Put two front feet up to deliver an item


Jobs That Give Independence

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Canine Companions for Independence assistance dogs are there for their human partners with disabilities. Expertly trained to perform over 40 commands these dogs help children, veterans and adults with disabilities open doors, pick up dropped items and much more.

Get Involved

Canine Companions hearing dog laying down and looking up

More Information

Looking for materials? You can find Canine Companions’ service dog infographic, perfect for quick reference here.

Download Information
Canine Companions service dog pulling a door open using a tub strap


Are you interesting in an educational training? Canine Companions offers trainings to fit your organization’s needs, from national conference sessions to local business or group trainings.

Request a Session

Partners That Stand Against Service Dog Fraud

We are grateful for our committed partners working with us to stop fraud and give a dog a job.


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NextHome logo
BraunAbility logo
Chrysler logo