TONIGHT AT 11: Fake Service Dogs Cause Probl

    DAYTON — Seeing more
    service dogs while out and about?

    Maybe it’s because you can pimp your
    pup with legit looking for vests for cheap.

    But fake service dogs are
    bad for disabled and bad for business.

    Alexandra Lewis investigates why getting away with the deception so easy and what it means for folks who really need them.

    “I
    couldn’t do a lot of things without her,” Huber Heights Elena Duncan
    says passionately at Bob Evans Thursday (November 20th).

    A battle with lime disease left Duncan with brain damage.

    “Now I can’t regulate my heart or when I stand up for a long period or sometimes even for a few minutes,” Duncan explained.

    One-year-old Freya helps Elena with her balance and gives her the courage to fight her PTSD.

    Freya is a service dog. Her patches and vest are a sign that she’s on the job, and her ‘get in free card’ to any establishment.

    But sniffing out real from fake is not easy. And more and more folks are taking advantage.

    You
    can buy the official kit for about a $150 online and not provide any
    info about you or your dog. But if impostures don’t want to shell out
    that much, they can go cheaper. We took a quick stroll on eBay and found
    a vest for $17.99.

    Our next step was to test it out. We took our faux service dog to Lily’s Bistro in the Oregon District. No one seemed to mind.

    “I just thought you were training it. So it was very cute,” Duane Myers of Washington Twp. said after finishing his lunch.

    Next we hit Dot’s supermarket in Dayton. One of the store managers barely took a second look.

    “I hadn’t seen them that small before but I know they train them at any stage,” Rick Roach, Dot’s Supermarket, said.

    We called the eBay seller from New Jersey.

    “They
    have disabilities. They’re not people who have money. Money is not a
    disposable thing,” David Kurzman, Clarksburg, NJ, explained via phone on
    Monday.

    Kurzman says he barely makes a profit and sells vests to help those in need.

    “How
    do you know that they don’t have bad intentions? You don’t. You
    honestly don’t,” Kurzman added. “Is there cases where I’ve had people
    who didn’t need it buy from me? Absolutely. But I didn’t knowingly sell
    it for that reason.”

    Due to privacy laws staff can only ask two
    questions: 1. Is the service dog required because of a disability? 2.
    What work or task has the dog been trained to do? Any other questions
    are a violation could land a business owner in deep trouble.

    Because of the thousands of sellers like Kurzman, anyone can turn a pet into working dog.

    “You
    don’t have to prove anything. So it’s making it harder for people who
    need the animals because people are taking dogs in places who aren’t
    behaving,” Duncan explained Thursday.

    It is a federal crime to use a fake service dog, but enforcement is extremely hard because of privacy laws.

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