Bogus Therapy Dogs Used to Get Discounts and Preferential Treatment


According to an article from the New York Post,

Phony “service dog” tags have become common among city pooch owners, who use them for everything from taking Fido bar-hopping to pick up chicks to getting discounts on the Hamptons Jitney.

Dog owners can easily snap up bogus tags, vests, patches and certificates on the Internet, circumventing the city Health Department and undermining federal regulations designed to aid the disabled.

“I was sick of tying up my dog outside,” said Brett David, 33, a restaurateur whose tiny pooch, Napoleon, wore an unofficial “therapy dog” patch during a visit to Whole Foods on Houston Street (pictured).

from the New York Post

picture from the New York Post

“Sometimes, they’ll give me a hassle and say bring the papers next time, but for five bucks, you order [a patch] off eBay, and it works 90 percent of the time,” he told The Post.

The Health Department issues legitimate service-dog tags but doesn’t regulate them.

To obtain a legitimate tag, an applicant only needs to present a letter from a dog trainer saying the dog can perform certain useful tasks. Proof of a disability isn’t required.

David merely had to say “service dog” at a Starbucks on Delancey Street and again at a dumpling eatery on Broome Street for him and his furry friend to be allowed inside.

“He’s been to most movie theaters in the city, more nightclubs than most of my friends,” David boasted of Napoleon, a Maltese Yorkie.

“I don’t care who you are, a teacup Yorkie will trump a black [American Express] card when you’re trying to pick up a girl.”

Financier Kate Vlasovskaya, 24, carries a phony “service dog” ID card she bought online from the “United States Service Dog Registry” for her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Lila.

“It’s becoming pretty popular now,” she said as she recently carted Lila on the Hamptons Jitney without having to buy a ticket for the dog.

For $50, the laminated card, featuring a hologram, provides the dog with an ID number.

Vlasovskaya isn’t worried about getting called out, noting it’s a hassle to verify the certificate.

“You’d have to go through all of these links or get someone on the line,” she said. “With all of that effort, they will probably just let you in.”

Toni Eames, the blind president of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, said fake service pooches antagonize her Seeing-Eye dog.

“People don’t realize that if the dog misbehaves in any way — if it isn’t clean, barks or is overly friendly and jumps on people — that it aggravates other dogs and disrupts the way they do service,” she said.

Lori Levine, designer of the Comes With Baggage handbag line, got her dogs legitimate tags after paying $1,100 to have them trained. She got the tags so she could take the pets to visit a sick friend in the hospital but also brings the pooches along while dining out, shopping or traveling.

“You can tell when people are faking it,” she said. “Their dogs act crazy.”


This article makes me sick. I can’t believe people are abusing their pets by putting a Service Dog patch and getting preferential treatment like avoiding the “pet cabin fee.”


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3 Comments on "Bogus Therapy Dogs Used to Get Discounts and Preferential Treatment"

  1. Beyond disgusting, like those who hire disabled people in order to skip long lines at the amusement parks. I hope karma bites them back tenfold.

  2. Will Run For Miles | August 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Reply

    I wrote this about a year ago about service animals on planes. The topic is controversial, because on one end of the spectrum are people who genuinely need the support animals, and on the other are the fakers and frauds. I have a close friend who is going through Pancreatic Cancer treatment and honestly, having her dog by her side 24/7 (through chemo, subway rides, etc) has been a lifesaver for her.

    anyway, here’s the post about air travel:

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