CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local service animal training facility is warning of an uptick of scams and fakes, an issue they say is quickly growing in our area.
Currently, 19 states have laws against misrepresenting a pet as a service dog. That includes North Carolina, but not South Carolina.
The Dog Knowledge Center in Charlotte says lately they’ve been getting calls every week from people who have been scammed and scorned by people who are giving out fake service dog certifications, vests, and ID cards.
“Online you can purchase a vest, unfortunately, as well as a falsified title or certificate to go with it,” said Austin Stallings, assistant director of the center’s service dog foundation.
“People want their dog to have full public access, so they can take them to the grocery store, Starbucks, things like that.”
But for people like Marine Sergeant Mike Garvey, who was injured in Afghanistan, the frauds are making it harder to get by his legitimate service animal.
“It's just so selfish,” he said. “It's like, why would you do that?”
In North Carolina, you can be charged with a misdemeanor if you’re caught misrepresenting your pet as a service animal.
“Not only are you kind of giving the entire industry a bad name you're making it that much harder for people in dire need of dogs,” Stallings said.