Fake service dogs attacking a Grants Pass woman and her true service dog

Winco Foods says it follows the letter of the law, and will ask someone to leave if the service animal owner and the dog do not follow the laws, in Grants Pass, Oregon, on Thursday, November 17th, 2016. (KTVL/Ariana Rakhshani).

GRANTS PASS, Ore.-- A Grants Pass woman said people are taking fake service animals into stores. She said these so-called service animals keep attacking her trained service dog. Over the last five years, Colleen Douglas said her service animal, Goshe, has been bit about 30 times.

Dogs for the Deaf Trainer Director John Droch said many businesses are afraid of lawsuits, and let people come in with fake service animals. The problem is it can put others, like Douglas and Goshe, at risk.

"If I bring him in, he may be hurt from the impostor that's inside, and if I don't take him in, it leaves me open for someone that thinks I'm an easy mark," Douglas said.

She said just several days ago, she saw an owner bring their dog into the store. Douglas said the owner held the leash loosely, allowing some distance between the dog and the owner. Douglas said someone who depended and needed their service dog would know better, so, she opted to leave Goshe in the car and used her cane. Coming out of the store, she had her purse stolen. She believes if she had Goshe with her, she would not have been looked at as an easy target.

Droch said it is not illegal to bring a pet into a store and lie about it being a service animal in Oregon, but California is considering making it a crime. Droch said Oregon should also consider that.

"I believe this should be a crime--minimum of a misdemeanor, simply because you are taking the rights away from so many people who truly need them," Droch said.

Douglas did recently purchase a taser cane to protect Goshe and herself, but she does not want to have to use it.

Droch said if an animal comes into your place of business, there are two questions you can legally ask: one, is t his your pet dog? If they say yes, a business can ask them to leave. If they say no, then you can ask what does your dog do, or what tasks does your dog perform? You cannot ask someone what disability they have.

He said there are some basic rules every animal service owner must follow. Every dog must be on a leash--they cannot be in a shopping cart. The dogs must be well-groomed and well-behaved. If they are not, the owner has the right to excuse them from the establishment.

Further, if you have a service animal, Droch said you should protect yourself as well. He said you should always carry a law book, which has all of the laws in all of the states. You should know all of your rights, have some type of identification for your dog, and have your animal service vest on your dog.

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