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Alberta guide dog advocate focuses on illegitimate service dogs

Click to play video: 'Service dog advocates raise concerns over fake tags and vests' Service dog advocates raise concerns over fake tags and vests
A Calgary service dog advocate says some people are passing off their dogs as service animals when they aren't qualified. Joel Senick looks at why he says this is easier to do now compared to years past – Jun 3, 2018

It’s easier now more than ever to pass off your dog as a service animal, when it really isn’t, according to a member of a Canadian guide dog advocate.

“They can even buy [service dog vests] on the internet and just call it a service dog,” Steve King, a member of the Lions Foundation of Canada, said in a recent interview.

“People are trying to pass off their dogs as being ‘service dogs,’ when they truly aren’t.”

READ MORE: Service dog changes life of Regina woman

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King said the issue comes down to accessibility, since service dogs are allowed in areas where pets are not.

“Getting on a plane, they want to carry their dog in the cabin with them, they want to go to a restaurant, they want to take their dog with them,” King said.

“We need to figure out some way of making sure the legitimate ones aren’t harassed.”

Provincial officials noted that they haven’t seen an increase in complaints about people using unqualified service dogs. In a statement, Alberta’s Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir said the government is “working to increase awareness and education around public access for service dogs.”

“I’m proud that our government’s changes have increased the number of service dogs available to Albertans who need them,” Sabir’s statement read.

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