Pretending to Be Disabled Is Despicable [OPINION]
Pretending to be disabled to get your cute little pooch into Target or your favorite restaurant is repugnant. You really ought not to do it. Unfortunately, people do and they do it often enough that the Massachusetts Legislature is considering making it a crime punishable by a fine.
Rep. Kimberly Ferguson has filed a bill, H 3657, that would make it a civil infraction to knowingly misrepresent a dog as a service dog or service-dog-in-training "to obtain any rights or privileges afforded to a person with a disability requiring the assistance of a service dog." Ferguson tells the State House News Service, "This is a bill about fraud."
Pets who have not received service dog training can become aggressive and place a legitimate service dog and the people who rely on them at risk of injury.
The State House News Service says there was a hearing on Ferguson's bill last week which calls for a fine of up to $500, 30 hours of community service at an organization serving people with disabilities, or both, for a first offense. The penalty would increase for subsequent offenses. Nearly half of the legislature has signed on to co-sponsor the legislation.
Whether it be appropriating someone else's culture to gain an advantage or pretending to need a service dog so that you don't have to leave Fluffy at home, fraud is fraud and is intolerable.
H 3657 should pass unanimously and be vigorously enforced. Pretending to be disabled so that you can have the advantage that a truly disabled person has is despicable. Be thankful that you don't need the services of a service animal and respect the rights of those who do.
People need to smarten up.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.