Over Labor Day weekend I went hiking at Mt. St. Helens, where dogs are not allowed, and came across a group of young people claiming their two dogs were service dogs. As I was hiking an eight-mile trail I came across this group again hiking with their dogs off leash, and I wondered what sort of service they could possibly be providing? As a dog lover myself I get the desire to take your dog wherever you go, but rules regarding where animals are allowed are in place for good reasons. In parks and natural areas dogs can disturb native wildlife. There are plenty of places to hike with your dog, the areas for wildlife to live undisturbed are far more rare.
Who is it hurting passing your pet off as a service animal? For the many individuals that depend on these amazing animals to help them with everyday tasks, it can be disruptive. Animals that are not extensively trained can interfere with the duties of a service animal. The law does not include comfort or emotional support animals, and you can ask what the animal is trained to do. It must be trained to perform a specific task in order to be considered a service animal. It would be ideal if those who think it’s no big deal to make this claim, would just think about the impact they’re having on others and stop being so selfish and inconsiderate.
Mary Middleton, Olympia