Laying Down the Paw
For those of you finding it difficult to decipher Phoebe's words, here is her Special Comment in writing:
"It has been brought to my attention, on numerous occasions, America, that there are those that will, for their own selfish reasons, claim their pet is a service dog in order to gain public access. Your dishonesty, no matter your motivation, undermines the legitimacy of my job. I am putting my paw down and saying to those who purchase a red vest and call a pet a service dog: you make my job, and my human's life, more challenging. Your actions give business owners a reason to question my presence in their establishments because they have been fooled by people who selfishly throw out the term "service dog" as if it has no consequences. Pets are not trained in the same way as service dogs. We have completed thousands of hours of specialized training in order to responsibly share public space with humans. We are trained to know immediately when our vests are put on that it is time for work, for good behavior, and we take our jobs very seriously. From restaurants, to schools, to hospitals, we understand that upon request from our humans, we immediately sit, lie down, or complete whatever task is required of us. We are the real deal, we are certified working animals, and when you throw a vest on your pet and drag him or her into a grocery store or a movie theatre, there is a real possibility of disruptive or inappropriate behavior. If that happens, employes are under the impression that your dog is a service animal, thus, they think less of service dogs, or they look upon me with doubt the next time I enter their business with my human. It is not far, it is not right, and it is not legal. To those of you who have attempted to pass off your pet as a service dog, I ask only that you think about the potential consequences of your actions. I ask you to consider how you would feel if your friend, your mother, your sister had a service dog and was hassled and treated poorly due to a stranger's choice to break the rules. I ask that you respect the men and women who have dedicated their time, their money, their energy and their love to training service dogs. I ask that the next time you are faced with a choice, you choose to regard service animals with the respect we deserve. Good night, and good luck."