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A hard look at the special role of service animals

David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe

Fakery puts the work of true service dogs in jeopardy

On behalf of NEADS World Class Service Dogs, our clients, and all legitimate working service dog teams, as well as the general public, I want to thank you for your editorial “No support for fake service animals” (Sept. 11) and the clear, thoughtful presentation of the growing issues surrounding fake service dogs.

Legitimate service dogs are rigorously trained in task work and are purpose-bred for temperament, soundness, trainability, and demeanor. It takes 18 months to two years to train and socialize a dog that will work as part of a service dog team.

People with their service dogs are protected by federal law in all 50 states under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But each time someone tries to pass off their pet as a service dog, it puts the work of these true service dogs in jeopardy. Passage of H.2277, filed by state Representative Kimberly Ferguson, Republican of Holden, means that Massachusetts will join more than a dozen states where misrepresenting a service animal is already illegal.

Gerry DeRoche


Chief executive officer

NEADS World Class Service Dogs

Princeton, Mass.

Service dogs provide invaluable assistance for people with vision impairments, limited mobility, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues. People who fraudulently attempt to pass off their family pet as a service animal create many problems for those who truly need the assistance of a service dog, as your editorial accurately noted. Untrained dogs masquerading as service animals distract legitimate service dogs from performing their work. The impostor dogs also cause business owners, restaurants, and others to question the legitimacy of true service animals.

Able-bodied individuals who take advantage of necessary accommodations such as a handicapped parking space are already subject to penalties; those who infringe on the needs of people who require a service dog should also be penalized.


Christopher Smith


The writer raises puppies who go on to work as service dogs for the visually impaired.

One person’s ‘emotional support’ animal is another’s albatross

Re “No support for fake service animals”: Thank you for addressing one of my pet peeves. As a psychologist, I cringe at the thought of requests from clients to write letters to allow them to board planes with their “emotional support” animals. In addition to my belief that it is unethical for me to do this, I also have a personal reason. After being a dog owner myself for many years, I have developed allergies to both dogs and cats. The last thing I need in a confined airplane is to sit next to a dog, which happened to me recently on a flight from Washington, D.C.

As the old saying goes: One’s personal freedom ends where another’s begins.

Kayta Curzie Gajdos


Don’t lump her into this particular breed of pet owner

Your editorial made it sound like all pet lovers were taking advantage of the “confusion” surrounding support animals. While I doubt that’s what you intended, I want to make it clear that that is definitely not the case.

As the owner of three dogs, I am repeatedly horrified by the “support animals” I have seen, including dogs that don’t know how to sit on command. I love my dogs, and they do offer a lot of support — at home. They are happier at home, and that is where they stay. I would never inflict them on anyone else or put them in a situation that causes them stress.


The average pet does not belong on an airplane. And I won’t even talk about ducks.

Elaine Chertavian


It’s a dog’s world (we just live in it)

I think dogs should be allowed nearly everywhere, as they are in civilized places like Paris and Rome. Dogs are a beneficial presence. The library at Harvard Medical School has had a resident dog to relieve student anxiety, as do many nursing homes. Merely petting a dog can lower one’s blood pressure. Obviously, poorly behaved dogs should be expelled, as should poorly behaved children. Regarding hygiene, am I the only one who has seen children plunge snot-covered hands into grocery store bins and samples?

People of any age with allergies should consult their doctor, because dogs are everywhere, regardless of whether a law is passed against “fake service dogs.” People who use these vests and credentials are not amoral monsters mocking the disabled; rather, they are people who love their dogs and fear they will die from heat if left in a car or be stolen if tied on the street.

Instead of punishing owners of “fake” service dogs, we should lift some of the regulations on where they can take their dogs.

Miriam Rosenberg