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Does the federal government need to regulate service dog websites?

Aside from the financial peace of mind provided by Social Security disability benefits, those suffering from a serious disability have other mechanisms at their disposal to help make life easier and perhaps even more enjoyable.

For instance, many disabled individuals can secure a service dog to not only provide them with much-needed companionship, but also help manage their condition or everyday activities.

Indeed, many of our nation's wounded veterans rely on these highly trained service dogs to assist with everything from mobility issues and seizure detection to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Interestingly, there is now a growing call among the disabled community here in Texas and across the nation for federal officials to perhaps start taking a more rigid stance when it comes to service dog requirements.

That's because they say otherwise dubious websites are now popping up that offer customers the ability to buy -- without submitting any sort of proof -- everything from vests, leashes, tags, cards and even certificates indicating that a dog is a service dog.

"It's really just a discredit to the people who need and use these dogs," said the owner of a San Antonio-based business that trains service dogs for the disabled.

It may come as a surprise to many people to learn that while the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that service dogs must be trained to assist the disabled, it has no provisions indicating how this training should occur. Furthermore, it lacks provisions calling for the creation of a national service dog registry or punishing those caught using a bogus service dog.

Advocates for the disabled argue that strengthening service dog requirements or at least regulating service dog websites would help reduce bias and ensure that service dogs were only being used by those who really need them.

Interestingly, other advocates have argued that tighter regulation is unlikely to dissuade those committed to pretending to have a service dog and may actually serve to make things more difficult for those who really need services.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Does more need to be done to regulate these types of websites?

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