KPLC 7 News
Wednesday, April 20th 2016
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC)
Service dogs are often used to help disabled individuals or those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Like anything else, there are those looking to take advantage of the animals even if they don't need them.(Source: Liz Koh/KPLC)
Senator Jonathan Perry of Kaplan has filed a bill that aims to crack down on service dog fraud.
Joshua Mercer is an Army veteran who suffers from PTSD. He got his service dog Chloe about a year ago.
"I don't know what I'd do without her," said Mercer.
Chloe earned her service dog patch of honor by going through extensive training.
"She went through about three rounds of testing and that includes over 100 hours of public access training using various situations that I would encounter in my day-to-day life and she rocked it," he explained.
Those who take advantage of the system skip training altogether. Currently, there is no way to officially identify service dogs. Since there are no regulations for the industry, it's as easy as buying a service vest and then claiming your pet as a service dog.
"Having been in the military, it's very prideful. It's hard to admit when you have a disability or an issue and (it's) very humbling," said Mercer. "I think it's a horrible thing to take advantage of that and to pretend that you're somebody that you're not. It's sad."
If it passes, Perry's bill will require the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs to create a service dog registry.
The proposal also states service dog owners should be required to obtain a doctor's note and carry identification.
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