VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Scams involving untrained or poorly trained service dogs are costing Canadian families thousands of dollars and, they’re proliferating.
Experts say the problem is exploding in the U.S. as the demand for the animals, especially “psychiatric” service dogs for people with autism or post-traumatic stress disorder quickly grows.
Here, the dogs are provided free of charge by charities although there are long waits, says Laura Watamanuk, the executive director of the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society.
She says some trying to avoid the wait look to buy an animal themselves, but they’re getting scammed.
“I’ve heard of many instances with people with families in Canada that have paid money — say $15,000 to $20,000 for a dog — that they think is going to support their child with autism, and they find themself getting an untrained dog from the United States,” she says.
She says some schools are claiming to be certified and have credentials — but they don’t — and they’re charging substantial amounts of money for dogs.
Societies like PADS provide service animals free of charge but can’t keep up with demand, meaning people will often look to buy them on their own.