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Fake Service Dogs: Leading by Example

By Joshua Ferguson

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This qualitative research examines public awareness pertaining to the protocols surrounding service dogs and their handlers, known collectively as the service team. The use of service dogs has been on the increase as more people discover the benefits provided by service dogs. The increase in the number of service dogs fosters questions about safety, training, the dog’s purpose, and its legitimacy. Previous studies suggest that many individuals are falsely claiming their dogs as service dogs or “fake service dogs.” This research explores what trends are leading to increases in service dog use and how fake service dogs affect people involved. An autoethnographic methodology allowed this principal investigator to act as the key instrument for data collection during normal daily public interactions using a personal service dog. Data was assessed by scoring 87 individual interactions between the service team and a public employee and scaled based on how the interaction should have gone versus how it occurred. The results indicate that public awareness about how to engage service teams is below average and that the largest segment of people educating themselves are the people who want to use fake service dogs. The study suggests that businesses with Human Resource personnel or other training personnel have better awareness about service dog protocol while smaller businesses require additional education.    


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 19 April 2019
Format PDF
URL https://digitalcommons.usm.maine.edu/thinking_matters/211/
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals -- Law and legislation.
  3. Assistance animals
  4. Disabilities
  5. Dogs
  6. Legislation
  7. Mammals
  8. open access
  9. Service animals
  1. open access