"Therapy dogs" are not the same as "service dogs" for the blind.
While it ensures their rights, the looseness of the law is a source of frustration for Freyseth and Johnson, who have been forced to contact police when untrained service or therapy animals have attacked their own dogs, which can be scarring to the animals and cause them to lose focus on the task at hand. A particularly traumatizing incident could render the dog unable to continue working, an especially harsh loss given the $40,000 and several months invested in training.
More at Madison.com: Photo credit Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune.“The hardest part is when we run into fakes,” Freyseth said. “We don’t know where they are, and one attack can change our dog forever. I get scared.”
While unauthorized service capes and harnesses can be easily purchased online, Johnson says an animal’s manner is a clear indicator of its legitimacy. Growling, lunging, excessive barking and energetic playfulness are hallmarks of untrained animals, as is the language the owner uses for discipline.