Don’t Pretend Your Dog Is a Service Animal

NOT coming to a restaurant near you.

Photographer: Peter Suderman

They walk into the restaurant, their dog in tow. The dog is wearing a service vest, and you scan them to see what sort of disability they need a dog for. None is apparent, but some conditions aren’t obvious, so who knows. Maybe it’s a seizure-detecting hound. However, you can’t help but notice that the dog doesn’t seem to be exactly exquisitely trained. She’s squirming around, begging for food, barking at another service dog across the restaurant.

As you watch them enjoying their meal, maybe you think to yourself, “I wonder what it takes to get one of those vests?” After all, you’re fond of your dog, and you’d rather have him with you at dinner than cooped up home alone.

The answer is that it doesn’t take much at all. You can order them from Amazon. And since restaurants have to let you in, and are unlikely to get strict and invasive by demanding documentation, plenty of people are strolling their pets into pet-unfriendly public places under the auspices of the Americans With Disabilities Act.