Now, not that we aren’t against people who abuse service dog status to get their run-of-the-mill, non-utilitarian dogs into inappropriate places. I once worked for a person who used a sketchily acquired service vest to get their designer dog its own seat on airplanes, and have been on more than one train held up by a crust punk screaming at a skeptical conductor that their poorly cared for dog “IS A SERVICE. ANIMAL. A SERVICE ANIMAL.” By all accounts, taking advantage of (and thereby demeaning) a system designed to help people with real disabilities is a shitty thing to do. That said, the Post’s undercover investigation of the phenomenon? Maybe not strictly necessary.
But, of course, it happened anyway, and today, Tara Palmeri chronicles the time she borrowed her mother’s “wacky golden retriever/poodle mix ‘Hampton,'” shuttled him around to upscale places like Orsay and “a Starbucks on Lexington” in a service vest, and let him run amok just because she could. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities act, which prevents businesses from inquiring about a patron’s specific disability or demanding identification for service animals, the dog was left to its own devices (though a “grossed-out patron” did ask about Hampton’s papers while the dog “strutted through the dining room, sniffing around for scraps.”)
So, unclear what point, exactly was proven by all this. That businesses should be able to ask invasive questions of people with disabilities? That these vests should be harder to acquire? That, now that she’s done it, everyone dragging around fake service dogs to places like Le Cirque should act like a decent citizen and cut this shit out? Or maybe just that Hampton is a particularly ill-behaved goldendoodle. Tough questions for a slow news day.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.