Sarah, The Registered Service Dog?

There are so many scam sites out there for registering your dog as a service dog. One of the largest scam sites is the United States Service Dog Registry or as it is it is more commonly called the USSDR, NSAR. 
To prove my point, I registered Sarah as a service dog. The website registered her for free but we could have paid the fee and got the vest and ID card.

 This should mean that she can fly for free from now on, right??

Think I'm joking?
Hi Bunny,
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By registering you've voluntarily accepted a specific set of training and behavior standards that were developed by experienced trainers and disabled Service Dog owners within the Service Dog community. These training and behavior standard s go above and beyond the ADA.

We want to encourage education and compliance with the ADA, the importance of training and the behavior of you and your animal. Remember, you and your Service Dog may be the first team that someone ever meets. It is up to you to make sure that you leave them with an excellent impression. By registering and signing this agreement, you've made a small but important promise to yourself and other disabled individuals who rely on their Service Dogs.


Girl with short blonde hair with braces smiling
Congratulations Sarah! You are now a registered service dog. 
Does this prove that she is a service dog? It takes more to be a service dog than just a registry. 

First off, a person who has a service dog MUST be disabled. According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Service animals are defined as dogs and (under rare cases mini horses) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

  • Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
  • A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Even though some states have laws defining emotional support animals, these animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities and therefore are not covered by federal laws protecting the use of service animals.  Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office. It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.
  • When a service dog handler enters a business 2 questions are allowed to be asked ...
    (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability 
    (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
    Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

    Training a dog in obedience and teaching them to do the tasks that are needed for the disabled handler, is not something that can be done overnight or even a few weeks. There are many sites that you can register your pets to become a service dog, emotional support animal or even a therapy dog. Send these sites x amount of dollars and they will send you a vest and ID card. 

    These types of sites do not require any proof that the person who is registering their animal is disabled nor do they ask about training. Answer a few questions and they "certify" your animal. The only problem is there is NO CERTIFICATION required for a service dog. Many programs who train service dogs do certify their dogs but it's through their program and it shows their dogs have been trained according to their standards. 

    If you visit Instagram and search the hashtag #ServiceDog or #Serviceanimal you will likely see someone posting their animal stating how they can go anywhere with them now, bragging how they don't have to pay for their pet to fly or saying that now they can't be denied a pet in a no-pet housing. 

    There are times when you read about service dog handlers having problems with access to stores or restaurants to name a few. This goes back to the 2 questions that a business can ask. How is a store or restaurant to know that you have a legitimate service dog, one who has been trained and assist a disabled handler? There may be 10 real service dog teams in the area but there are 20 additional people who are saying their dogs are service dogs too. 

    While in a Dollar store one day and the manager of the store asked the 2 questions when we entered. We shopped for a while but I noticed that the workers were keeping an eye on Carma. We were walking past the manager of the store who was putting up stock and she said she wished all service dogs were quiet and polite like me. I said, "what do you mean?" The manager went on to tell ma about 2 service dogs who come in the store and one likes to jump up on people and the other one likes to bark and growl at people. I educated her about what they could do as a business and gave her one of our cards that have the ADA laws on them. This made her happy.  

    Sometimes businesses not only need to know they have to allow a service dog to come in their stores or restaurants but they also need to know they can protect themselves and their customers. Fake service dogs can be a danger to shoppers or those who are eating. There are stories after stories of fake service dogs attacking highly trained service dogs. 

    If you are in a public place and a dog is misbehaving, you can bet either 3 things... the dog is having an off day (we have bad days too), the dog is in training and may not be ready for public access or they are a companion pet and not a trained service dog. 

    If a service animal behaves unacceptably and the handler does not control the animal, a business or other entity does not have to allow the animal onto its premises. Uncontrolled barking, jumping on other people, or running away from the handler are examples of unacceptable behavior for a service animal. A business has the right to deny access to a dog that disrupts their business. For example, a service dog that barks repeatedly and disrupts another patron’s enjoyment of a movie could be asked to leave the theater.

    If a business asks a handler to remove their dog, the business has to allow the person to re-enter the business without the dog. 

    I guess you are wondering why I registered Sarah as a service dog. We wanted to prove that the registries online are only in business for your money. If you register your animal or person as a service animal and you have access troubles, you have the law called on you or you have a problem in a business, you will not be protected by the ADA. 

    Faking a service dog status puts legitimate teams in jeopardy. When a business has asked for an ID card for me, I hand them one of the ADA cards above. We had a clerk at a fabric store argue with us that I needed an ID card or be in the registry to be a true team. After the clerk read the card and went and looked up the information on the ADA website, she came back and apologized then she thanked her for educating her. 

    Education is the key to keeping trained service dogs and their handler safe. Being disabled is hard enough much less having access troubles because of the fake service dog teams. 

    Carma was a trained service dog.

    6 pack of RC bottles registered as Service Dog in training

    I even registered my 6 pack of RC cola as a service dog in training! 

    Do you have any questions?
     I will answer them the best of my ability
    Have you ever seen a service dog team that you felt were fake? 

    *Additional Resources*

    Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals-

    *UPDATE from registry* 
    We have suspended your registration agreement which serves as voluntary public acceptance of our training and behavior standards for yourself and your dog.  
    We have received evidence that you are exploiting the registry and that you do not have a clear understanding of the law or our purpose and are in clear non-compliance with our training and behavior standards on behalf of yourself and your animal. Your actions threaten the reputation of other disabled Service Dog owners who fight every day to have their Service Dogs taken seriously by members of the public.

    Every time I read the last line of the text the company sent when they suspended my registry number, I laugh and laugh. The company should remind themselves of the last sentence every day! 

    Wonder if the rocks, couches, orcas, and jars of Nutella were also suspended? If not, those are all "registered" service dogs with this company. 


    1. Excellent post, Carma. Thanks for helping educate people. There are so many misconceptions about service dogs, and there are way to many fake service dogs.

    2. I have a friend who has severe anxiety, and will actually collapse if she has an anxiety attack. She is on medication, but also requires a service dog to get her to safety when she's about to have an attack. The dog is trained to notice cues and subtle behaviors that my friend doesn't even realize she's doing, and will signal to her to get to a 'safe' place so she doesn't hurt herself. Her dog is a small poodle, and she's had an unbelievable amount of opposition from business and people who think her dog is a pet and not a real service animal.

      Perhaps it's thanks to all the 'fake' service animals who misbehave that have put people on guard, and think any small dog obviously can't be a real service animal. Her dog is always quiet and calm, and half the time people don't even realize he's there. Yet she has still been kicked out of restaurants and shops because she has him.

    3. I am so glad you are calling light to this. Dar was in Sam's Club last week and there was a very adorable (but not certified) dog in Sam's with a gentleman. I know because I was outside with Dex in the car watching the guy come out. The dog was jumping on folks and super friendly. The guy kept pulling back at the dog. Rainy night and I am sure he wanted to get to his car. I thought of you and all you do to keep the service in service dog. TY for this very well done post. Kudos!

    4. I deal with this from time to time as an animal control officer. Fakers don't know the law. I've had several tell me "I don't have to tell you that!" when I ask what is the service the dog provides. For example , service dogs are required to be on leashes unless it directly interferes with a service it provides. I wrote a ticket to a woman whose hearing dog was running off leash a hundred yards away from her. Also, service dogs don't automatically get free passes. I wrote a ticket to another woman with a service dog. The dog was a hearing assistance dog for the woman's mother. But mother was at home 45 minutes away while the dog was running amok in my jurisdiction. Neither woman disputed the ticket.


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