“Chris Slavin of Danvers, Massachusetts, with her 3-year-old service dog, Earle. Massachusetts is considering a bill that would crack down on people who misrepresent their pets as service dogs. Nineteen other states have adopted similar measures.© Courtesy of Chris Slavin
by Michael Ollove
“Chris Slavin was in an elevator a couple years ago with Earle, her yellow lab service dog, sitting calmly beside her wheelchair. The elevator doors opened and in walked a woman holding a purse. In the purse was a teacup poodle the color of apricots.
“The doors closed just as the poodle spotted Earle. That’s when the trouble started. In an instant, the poodle leaped from the purse, flung himself at Earle, and clamped his teeth into the bigger dog’s snout, leaving Earle bleeding onto the elevator floor.
“‘As soon as this occurred the woman said the poodle was a service dog,’ said Slavin, who has a severe spinal injury that requires use of the wheelchair. ‘She then said he wasn’t a service dog but an emotional support dog. Finally, she admitted he was a pet she just wanted to bring in the building with her.’
“Incidents like that one in Reading, Massachusetts, not far from where Slavin lives in Danvers, have spurred 19 states to enact laws cracking down on people who try to pass off their pets as service animals.”