Assistance dogs for the deaf organisation are sending out letters to dog owners urging them to join a central register of valid assistance dogs and owners. [At least they should be doing that].
They should be doing this in response to numerous concerns some dog owners are abusing the concessions a service dog provides to its owner, by purchasing online authentic-looking dog vests cheaply with 'Trained assistance dog' written on them for their own untrained pets.
This has caused issues for the deaf, and for blind people, with publicly accessible area owners claim to be unsure who qualifies or if the animal actually is trained and some have been banning dogs to comply with health and safety laws. Deaf and Blind have also complained about taxi owners doing the same thing.
Purchasing a dog vest that states it is an assistance animal appears to be freely available without any checks at all via Amazon and eBay as well as various dog supply outlets, with no check at all the purchasers had a trained animal. ATR found 15 sites in as many minutes. We gather there is a registration process in the USA and fraudulently claiming a pet is a trained animal can incur fines.
No such law appears to be extant in the UK. One enquirer claimed she was offered a hearing dog for the deaf vest with their official logo on from their own site with no checks.
The problem also appears to be in that there is no legal requirement to insist on an assistance dog in the united kingdom is either registered or indeed the owner has to provide real proof their animal is a trained assistance animal.
Currently, owners point to the law and the 'proof' is there via the vest the dog is wearing. To this end, a suggestion is being made to register all owners and their trained animals, and to then issue then with a validation card they can produce if asked and a barcode individually issued for a nominal fee that a dog can wear on its vest that can be scanned as proof.
Concerns are being raised the UK charities still have no legal requirement to set up any such a register which can render the whole thing pointless. Frauds are buying these vests to confuse challenges. Is this an issue the RSPCA can take up?
Disabled with other less obvious disabilities are also buying 'trained assistance animal' vests for their pets. Mainly on the grounds, their pet is emotional support of some kind. Again whether such pets are recognised by the systems or trained as such is unclear too.