Ask The Hairy Dogfathers: Therapy Dog Fraud?
Just because you can register your pooch as a therapy dog, does it mean that you should? The Hairy Dogfathers have a few thoughts on if a dog should be registered just for a reader’s convenience.
Dear Hairy Dogfathers,
I have a wedding next winter that I have been invited to. I am close to this niece and I would like to support her. However, it’s a destination wedding and I don’t want to leave my dog at home. I heard from a friend that she registered her pooch as a therapy dog, so she can bring it on the plane with her anywhere she goes. How do I do this?
Signed, Not Going to Fly Solo
Dear No Solo,
Leaving your dog behind when you go away is never fun. I always do my best to plan road trips instead of hitting the airways for this exact reason. In terms of your current situation, getting your dog some kind of service designation may be an option, you will have to do some research on this as the requirements vary by region. But I caution that before you go through with this, make sure to think it through. Getting your dog on the plane is only part of it; will this vacation be conducive to having your dog with you? Are you planning on spending your afternoons at a swim-up bar or on the beach tanning? If you dog will end up spending more time in the hotel room than with you, you are likely better off finding a good kennel where your dog and stay and play while you enjoy your niece’s wedding.
No, No Solo! Just don’t do it! People who rely on service dogs, RELY on them! Now we’re seeing refusal of entry to actual service dogs because so many people have had the same thought as you and are trying to get their dogs passed off as “therapy dogs.” This is a growing problems that is jeopardizing special needs people and their dogs. Actual service dogs go through intense training, not so they get on planes, but so they can do a critical job.
I get the guilt and you not wanting to leave your pup behind for a wedding. But ask around – there are some really wonderful house sitters and doggy camps out there. The best ones book up early, so start looking now. And my bet is that your dog will have such a good time, he won’t even miss you!