Blogger: Dog owners flaunting rules, bringing pets in stores

SEATTLE -- A Seattle woman has ignited a debate over service dogs and the people who claim to have them.

Legitimate service dogs go through rigorous training and are almost always well behaved. People are legally allowed to bring the dogs into grocery stores, but a local blogger claims some Seattleites are flaunting the rules and bringing their non-service dogs into grocery stores.

In a recent blog post, Jenny Fillius blasted pet owners who bring ordinary dogs into stores and make things uncomfortable and unsanitary for others.

"Defecating, fornicating dogs riding in shopping carts," Fillius said.

She says federal law doesn't require service dogs to wear any special signs or collars, and owners don't get ID cards.

"The dog doesn't have to have anything that distinguishes itself from any other dogs, so people can lie about it," she said.

Those who train service dogs agree that too many ordinary pet owners are committing fraud.

It's against state law to pretend your dog is a service animal, but the owner of West Seattle's Service Dog Academy said cheaters can get around the law because store managers are leery of confronting them.

"(They'll say), 'I'm going to sue you. You can't ask me that stuff, you're breaking the law.' And, basically, stores are afraid of getting sued and that's why they're not asking the legitimate questions they're able to," said Mary McNeight.

McNeight is now mounting a letter-writing campaign to local government leaders to help improve service-dog laws.

"Let's get something that denotes service animals from regular animals," she said.