Palisades News Letters: Calling Pets ‘Service Dogs’ Is a Disservice

A reader wrote the News that she saw a shopper’s dog defecate in CVS and was horrified that people bring their pets into stores and try to pass them off as service animals.

Glen Gregos, who is in a wheelchair because of a spinal injury that he suffered as a 15-year-old, said: “It [calling pets service dogs] absolutely does a disservice to those who need a service animal.” His service animal can help pull his wheelchair, carry a light shopping bag, turn lights off and on, and retrieve items he drops.

California Health and Safety Code, Section 114259.5 prohibits live animals in a food facility, which includes restaurants, grocery stores and other places that sell food—except for “service animals.”

Glen Gregos’ dog is trained to put his paws on his owner’s feet in order to hand him something.

Is a dog that provides emotional support a service animal? No, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which defines a service animal as “[A] dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.”

Gregos said that the abuse of the system has made it more difficult for those who are truly disabled.“We’re trying to educate. Service dogs are considered ‘medical equipment.’”

Claire Van Konynenburg said that when her family gets a new CCI puppy, they will take it to the service manager at Gelson’s and introduce the dog and its purpose. She also hands out pamphlets about CCI. “We’re trying to create awareness,” she said.

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