AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Hope Lives Here is a local non-profit that provides service dogs to veterans that suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or military sexual trauma (MST).
These dogs are rescued from local shelters and Hope Lives Here pairs them with a veteran, and train the two as a team.
Lately, they have been noticing a growing trend in fake service dogs.
The organization said the training required for the dogs does not happen overnight.
“The training from start to finish usually lasts up to a year,” Brooke Schneider, Founder of Hope Lives Here, stated.
Schneider said there is a growing trend with people trying to pass off their pets as service animals. Something that could be harmful.
“If that dog is not properly trained especially around other working animals the fake service dog could become aggressive and unfortunately attack our service dogs,” Schneider explained.
Service dogs are required to perform a task that can assist a person with a disability.
“Some of the tasks they can perform are pushing buttons, opening doors,” Schneider said.
Mike Broyles, an Army veteran suffers from PTSD and anxiety. He said his service dog, Chief, helps him combat the struggles of everyday life.
“He’ll rest his head on my arm and or underneath my arm and he’ll lick my hand. he’s just telling me he’s there,” Broyles said.
Broyles said Chief has given him a new start to life when before he was unsure if he even wanted to live.
“Before Chief came into my life I was in a very very dark place. and when he came into my life, he saved me,” Broyles explained.
According to the ADA, an establishment can ask “Is the animal required because of a disability,” and “What task is the animal trained to perform? “
If the handler can not answer these questions, or if the dog is acting aggressive, the establishment has the right to ask the animal and owner to leave.
In the United States, there is no certification required.