service dogA bill that unanimously passed the state House this week makes it a crime for dogs to be falsely represented as a service animal so that owners don’t reap ill-gotten rewards of taking their companions with them to public places.

Criminalizing the misrepresentation of service dogs seems a little extreme — fines of up to $5,000 for repeat offenses plus ten hours of community service for puppy posers.

One service dog owner claims to have encountered hundreds of fakes recently, and Angela Eaton with Canine Partners for the Rockies says it’s a “huge problem,” the Denver Post reported.

“We’ve had calls from people who just want a vest so they can fly with their dog in the passenger section of an airplane,” Eaton said. “There are well-meaning people out there who feel the dog does provide a service, but they haven’t done the proper training. I hope this bill passes so it encourages people to seek that out.”

Aha. The problem appears to be that people don’t want to pay to have their dogs properly trained, so now the state has found a way to make money from it, rather than force owners to seek the training needed.

Now it makes sense. Just not in a good way.

We admit we are disturbed when we spot the posers and service dogs in grocery stories, because that’s gross. Same for restaurants where we’re eating and don’t like picking dog hair out of our food.

However, we may or may not be guilty of sneaking our canine companion into a national park, because it’s the freaking outdoors and rules against leashed dogs are stupid. We confess that the only service our dog provides is fetching a ball, over and over and over again. But, we’ve never lied about our companion to avoid extra hotel fees or take him with us in public buildings.

Seeing and hearing service dogs are essential, just as the training is for the dog to do its job. But the increasing popularity of so-called comfort animals is obviously causing the problem. If one can’t go grocery shopping or eat a meal without the comfort of a dog, we suspect that person needs more psychiatric help than a mere pup can provide.

However, criminalizing it and clogging our already overburdened court system with dog disputes is not addressing the problem, and we think Rep. Daniel Kagan did a disservice by sponsoring this bill.