Copied and pasted from a friend, with some modifications.
It has come to my attention that Walmart is now selling service dog vests. I don’t know if they’re available locally yet, but I checked, and they’re on the Website and on the app. They’ve also been seen in stores across the country. PLEASE NO, this is DANGEROUS. Some people might not realize how its dangerous, so let me explain.
Service dogs go through hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours of specialized training in order to behave appropriately in public and to assist their disabled handlers. By selling these vests in Walmart, shoppers are encouraged to buy these and put them on their untrained pets, and possibly bring them into public establishments as an attempt to pass off their pets as legitimate service dogs. Not only is it illegal to falsely represent a pet as a service animal, but it can present a very real danger to legitimate service dog handler teams.
1. Allowing untrained animals in public accommodations is a liability. They could potentially urinate or defecate in inappropriate areas and pose a health risk, or damage merchandise and cause hardship to the store. Additionally, they often cause disruptions by barking and having poor leash manners, running up to strangers, etc.
2. Even the most friendly pet can become defensive and bite out of fear in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by unfamiliar people. Its also unethical to put a pet through this kind of situation that it hasn’t been trained for. It causes the pet unnecessary stress.
3. Untrained pets and fake service animals in public have become so common that many businesses have developed a negative view of service animals. people who utilize legitimate service dogs in order to live independent lives are facing discrimination as a result.
4. Untrained pets posing as service animals often bark, lunge, or growl at legitimate service animals as they pass. This can be dangerous in multiple ways, even if the pet never comes into direct contact with the service animal. Distractions like this can cause medical alert service dogs to miss life-saving signs of seizures, drops in blood sugar, etc. Mobility or guide dogs might lead their handlers into danger or allow the handlers to fall and become injured.
5. Unfortunately, attacks on legitimate service animals by pets are not uncommon. In many cases, a service animal that has been attacked can become traumatized and be forced to retire from its work. There have also been several instances of service animals being killed by pets in public. This is devastating for obvious reasons.
Walmart is one of the most common non-pet friendly places to which shoppers bring their pets. At most locations, signs are clearly posted at the front doors, indicating that only service animals are welcome. The fact that Walmart is now selling vests allowing people to pass off their pets as service dogs is disappointing and disturbing. Fraud is now easily accessible to pet parents everywhere.
First of all, please don’t purchase one of these vests, and discourage those you know from doing so. If you see these vests being sold in your local Walmart, I encourage you to have a conversation with the manager of that location and request they be taken off the shelves in order to protect legitimate service dog teams.
However, more needs to be done. For the safety of shoppers, pet dogs, and service animals and their handlers, please use this link to contact the corporate headquarters of Walmart. The bottom line is the only thing that will get the giant’s attention. If Walmart figures out that more people, with and without disabilities, dislike the vests than approve of them, they will disappear from the store shelves.