Pets in Vests: Examining the Relationship between State Policies and Assistance Dog Fraud
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Methods: To extract state-level policy data, I individually reviewed each state’s assistance dog legislation. I collected survey and demographic data for assistance dog handlers from the world’s largest assistance dog organization, Canine Companions for Independence. I use a difference-in-differences analysis to explore the relationship between state-level policy and the prevalence of fraudulent assistance dog and legitimate handler encounters, as well as the secondary impacts of encounters between fraudulent assistance dogs and legitimate handlers.
Results: Preliminary results suggest that state-level policy is not positively associated with a reduction in assistance dog fraud, likely in part due to its incongruence with federal policy. However, the prevalence of fraudulent service dog encounters varies by assistance dog type (assistance dogs for children versus adults). Additionally, females tend to be denied access to public facilities with their assistance dogs more so than males.
Discussion: State policymakers are rapidly enacting policies in an attempt to curb assistance dog fraud. However, enforcement remains a challenge, and state policies do not yet show any association with a decrease in assistance dog fraud. Federal policy changes may facilitate the effectiveness of state-level policy on assistance dog fraud if the federal government were to strengthen its stance on assistance dog fraud.