Demand Consumers Verify Service Dog Ownership Before Purchasing Service Dog Vests


Target: Andrew R. Jassy, Senior Vice President of Web Services at

Goal: Require more safeguards surrounding the online sale of service dog vests, to prevent owners of non-service dogs from acquiring vests.

The role that service dogs play for individuals who need them is essential. However, problems arise when individuals who simply want to be accompanied by their non-service animals attempt to pass their dogs off as legitimate service dogs. While it is touching that some people care very deeply about their dogs and want to be around them, restrictions on animals’ presence in certain public and private locations exist for a reason.  Many people are allergic to dogs, and so their presence in a restaurant could compromise the health of those people. In other cases, some patrons may simply feel uncomfortable around dogs. People who have service dogs are allowed to be accompanied by their animals, because the dogs perform an essential service that outweighs the discomfort which might be imposed on other people. However, for non-service dogs, the interests of other people outweigh the interests of the owner of a non-service animal. allows customers to purchase service dog vests without providing any evidence to show that their dog is in fact a service dog. This makes it very easy for owners of non-service dogs to buy service dog vests and masquerade their animals as something that they are not. The result is that Amazon is enabling immoral dog owners to compromise the reputation of actual service dogs while also compromising the well being of other individuals around them.


Dear Mr. Jassy, Senior Vice President of Web Services:

The role that service dogs play for individuals who need them is essential. They provide a warning as to when diabetics’ blood sugar falls too low, offer their sense of sight to aid those who cannot see adequately, assist those with autism, and can help people who are hard of hearing. As a result, service dogs are permitted in places they otherwise would not be allowed inside of, from restaurants, to airplanes, to museums.

Amazon currently allows customers to purchase service dog vests without providing any proof that they do in fact have a service dog. This can easily result in non-service dog owners pretending that their dog is a service dog by purchasing the service dog vests. Please require that customers provide proof of service dog certification before they are permitted to purchase these vests.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. I appreciate what you are trying to do here. Fakers are making it harder for real teams to access public places. They not only put me and my service dog in danger, but they put the general public in danger also as they are not highly trained like SDs are. However, there is no certification to be shown for service dogs. There is no standard test for them. And the law was written that way to protect people with disabilities. As it stands, it can cost $25,000-50,000 for a fully trained program dog. We also have the option of owner training. Once the government steps in to require some federal or state testing, outrageous fees can be imposed, long waits, and the inconvenience of driving to a testing facility. Many disabled people live on a very fixed income and could not pay for the fees that would be associated with said hypothetical certification. And many more disabled people find it difficult to drive, wait in long lines, or meet in specific places for these tests to be run. I highly agree that something must be done, but the wording of your petition is in direct conflict with the federally mandated Americans with Disablilties Act. It states there is no certification or ID required of a service dog. So Amazon could not legally comply with your petition even if they wanted to.

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    I appreciate reading your comment and hearing your feedback. When it comes to submitting “certification,” I don’t believe it has to be as formalized as having specific paperwork. I think that ANY kind of process in which proof is submitted would help deter fraud. According to the ADA on services animals,

    “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.”

    If Amazon required purchasers to submit this information in writing, as a form of proof as to their animals’ service qualifications, it would deter consumers from buying the vests. It is one thing to order a product at the click of a button, and quite another to write out a full-fledged lie. This type of writing requirement could help to deter fraud.

    I hope that this idea inspires more confidence that it is possible to foster change on this issue.


  3. Yes, the magic two questions are perfectly acceptable to answer. But that is not what you asked Amazon for in the petition. You asked for proof of certification. No such thing exists.

    If you changed it to ask for the two questions to be answered, the change would be legal for Amazon to implement. However, the way this would pan out would be by clicking a box marked “this is a service dog used to mitigate a disability”. No further inconvenience. How many times have people clicked boxes stating they have read the terms and conditions without actually reading said terms? It wouldn’t stop anything.

    Many legitamit websites that sell these materials have a disclaimer that states that trying to pass off a pet dog as a service dog is a crime. At best, this petition would include that wording with a little box that the buyer clicks stating they understand. It would only inconvenience the web designers who must now go in and include the disclaimer and box. It will not hinder people from fraudulently passing off their pets as service dogs. In fact, many people would not even read it. They would only see that something needs to be clicked to proceed.

    Your heart is in the right place. And I really appreciate your efforts. But I think the proposed change needs a little more thought about how it would look in action. Often things looks good on paper but don’t pan out the way we thought once implemented. We need more education for change. People are terrified of lawsuits. Managers don’t realize they can kick out unruly “Service Dogs”. If we found a way to empower employees and managers with the true intent of the law, and when they are legally allowed to deny access, then we could catch the fakers, call the cops, and have them fined and/or imprisoned. But employers don’t know the law well enough to know that they can ask a team to leave if the dog is misbehaving (barking, growling, jumping on people, relieving itself, eating off tables, sniffing plates)…everything a normal pet dog would do in these very human environments. But a real service dog would never do these things (medical alert dogs might give a bark or a paw to the handler, or even jump on the handler to lick the face in order to alert the handler of an emergency, but never to another person. And the bark/jump/paw/lick will be directed at the handler, not everything that moves in the store). Even the police don’t fully understand the law. That is why many handlers carry copies of the state and federal law with them. We need to find a way to get the message out there and educate businesses, police, and the general public about the dangers fakers pose to everyone.

    I really want and need fakers to be stopped. I can’t tell you how many times my service dog has been lunged at by dogs that didn’t belong in the store. Whats worse is the owners think it is funny because their purse rat is trying to kill a 115 pound dog who thankfully is not reacting because he was so well trained. But for some SDs, constantly being under attack from these ill mannered pets can make the SD scared of other dogs, or even make them feel like they need to protect themselves and their person. Once that happens, the SD can not be relied upon anymore and the handler has lost their freedom and independence.

    I do as much educating as I can. I support the idea of this petition, but unfortunately I don’t feel it will make any difference in practice. Again, your heart is in the right place. And you are very close to a solution. Please keep trying. This is a problem that needs a solution. And it will take people like you to come up with the right one.

  4. Hi Jennifer! I am so sorry to hear about your experience with that mean little fake service dog. I have heard (in general terms) about that kind of thing happening, but it is different to hear about that story in the words of an individual person.

    I have thought more about what you said and dug deeper research-wise. If Amazon took more measures to ensure that the sale of its vests were to legitimate service dogs, there would still be other companies that would sell those vests. Some online ads read ““Identification for your service dog will reduce conflict. Get yours before the law changes!”

    This made me think, the law should change. I see three possibilities:

    1) Certification requirements for service dogs. I don’t like this idea though, because it creates an additional paperwork-driven hassle for people with disabilities.

    2) Regulating the sale of service identification materials. Many medications are obtainable only by prescription because of the risk of them being abused. Right now, identification materials for SD are being abused, which should be a sign that they need to be more well-regulated. If new legislation required vendors to have a note from a doctor indicating that a person had a service dog, it would reduce the availability of fraudulent vests. This would probably present other legal issues (for example, there might be extra regulations surrounding the vests if they are more formally identified as “medical equipment,” I don’t know yet). What are your first impressions of this idea?

    3) Making it a crime for vendors to sell service vests to people who do not have service dogs. This would put the burden on the vendors for ensuring that the sale of their materials are to legitimate service dog owners.

    As for the petition here, I still think it would make a difference (even if a small one) for Amazon to require vest purchasers to answer these two questions, writing open-ended responses. Until one of the three bigger changes proposed above happen, I still think that there is something that can happen more immediately.

    (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

    The extra minute that it takes a person to deliberately lie to both these questions could be enough to make a few people realize what they are doing. It would also call Amazon’s attention to the negative effect that they are having on the owners of SD.

  5. Thoughts 2 and 3 go hand in hand, and I think you really may be onto something there. While, it wouldn’t stop all fakers (as vests and IDs are not required), it would stop the vast majority of people who don’t bother to read the laws and just want an easy way to keep their pets with them. I hear people ask all the time how they can get a vest. Of course I educate them and tell them that even if I handed my SDs leash to someone without a disability, there would be no access rights. You must be disabled to use a SD. People always look shocked when I tell them that. So, this would definitely stop those people.

    I don’t see that this would be too much more inconvenient for people with disabilities, as most handlers already have a note from their doctor stating an SD is needed, or at least they have talked about it and could easily get one at the next appointment. Rental housing currently has the right to ask for a doctor note. So many people are already used to having one on hand somewhere.

    SDs are currently thought of as medical equipment, much like a wheelchair or oxygen. One would need a prescription to purchase an oxygen tank, I need a prescription for my SD’s prescription food, I don’t think asking for a prescription for gear related to SDs would be a problem for anyone except the fakers. As long as there are several options for getting it to the companies and they can not ask why the dog is needed. That would get into privacy concerns. But if the doctor could write “it is my professional opinion that my patient could benefit from a service dog”, that should be fine. And customers should have the option of faxing, emailing, or mailing the letter, or even have the doctor’s office fax it like many prescriptions are handled.

    And of course, we would need the third idea with that as a deterrent to companies who choose not to comply. The only down side I see with that is there would be fewer companies selling this stuff, causing prices to rise. But it seems like a good solution to a difficult problem.

    I wouldn’t know how to start with getting the law implemented, but let me know if I can help. If it is written correctly, that could be one I could get behind.

    Thank you!!! Brilliant!!!

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