While I was on the road last week, I ran into a woman that I can only describe as a Paris Hilton wannabe. Normally she wouldn?t even rate the time of day from me, but it was recently brought to my attention that her actions may actually cause problems for people who travel with legitimate service animals.
The reason I call her a Paris Hilton wannabe has nothing to do with her age or her looks or her wardrobe, but it has more to do with her dog. Yes, that?s right, I said her dog. The sad fact is, this 50-something woman takes her little toy poodle with her everywhere ? in her purse. And she expects people to accommodate her (and her dog).
Now don?t get me wrong, I am an animal lover, however I don?t think a pet has any place at the dinner table at a professional conference. And that?s exactly where it was ? front and center.
A colleague of mine summed it up best in an e-mail to me. She said she was, ?personally pissed that there was a dog in the banquet room.? She went on to say that service animals were of course acceptable but ?this was a Paris Hilton wannabe and her purse pet!?
That started the wheels to turn in my mind. Not everybody is as educated about service animals as my colleague. Let?s face it, to most people, a dog is a dog. They interchange the word ?pet? and ?service animal? far too often. Not everybody can recognize the difference between a working dog and a purse pet.
Therein lies the problem. Why do you think people who travel with service animals experience problems from some business owners? Maybe it?s because they had a previous encounter with a Paris Hilton wannabe, and they lump all dogs and dog owners together. So here we have some lady demanding access for her purse pet, and giving all animal owners a bad name. No she never stated that her dog is a service animal, (in fact she said it?s a ?travel writer?) but as I said, to many people, a dog is a dog. They will remember her (and her purse pet) next time somebody with a legitimate service animal shows up.
Yes, business owners should learn the laws, but in reality many just don?t. The solution begins with education. And that?s an education that could be better implemented if the Paris Hilton wannabes would just leave their purse pets at home.
Remember ladies, purses are for lipstick and cash, not dogs and bones!