Any one of my readers who is also involved in the service dog community whether it be as a puppy raiser, a handler, or a training will have come into contact with this subject before. I've seen dogs in stores who were clearly not services animals. They were pestering other patrons, lunging, barking and a few have even been aggressive towards my puppy in training all the while their owner just stood there and did nothing about it while the manager looked on unsure of what to do. I've also gotten people asking me where I can get those cool vests for their pet because they'd like to bring their pet with them too and it has taken most of my self restraint not to slap them across the face and calmly explain to them that passing off their pet as a service animal was a federal offense.
The real problem stems from ignorance. Ignorance of the general public to what bringing their ill behaved pet into a store can do for public access issues for those who have actual service animals and use them to lead independent lives. Ignorance of shop keepers and store managers in regards to ADA regulations and what they are legally allowed to do and what they are not legally allowed to do. Ignorance of some of the online shops who probably genuinely believe that they are helping people register their service animal and that no one would EVER abuse the cheap "service animal" vests to bring their pets into public areas (poor, misguided souls).
Quite recently CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) have started a campaign to educate the public while making it harder for people to abuse ADA regulations concerning service animals to pass of their pets as service animals because they just want to take them everywhere. Guide Dogs for the Blind firmly backs and supports this campaign.
Below you will find a link to the CCI page where you can find links to an educational video and to the campaign page where you can add your signature. Please head on over and add your name!